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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Moscow

HISTORY

The first Russian reference to Moscow is from April 4, 1147 when Prince Yuri Dolgoruki called upon the prince of Novgorod-Severski (North Novgorod) to "come to me, brother, to Moscow.”

The city is named after the river (old Russian: гра́д Моско́в, which means "the city next to the Moskva River").

Under Ivan I Moscow replaced Tver as a political center of Vladimir-Suzdal and by 1328 it had become the only collector of taxes for the Mongol-Tatar rulers.

In 1480, Ivan III broke the Russians free from Tatar control. Moscow became the capital of an empire that would eventually encompass all of Russia and Siberia, and parts of many other lands.

Ivan III

The Moscow Kremlin dates back to 1156. Originally constructed of wood, it was rebuilt in brick in the 14th century but lost its importance as a fortress in the 1620s.

The Moscow Kremlin served as the center of Russian government until 1712 and again after 1918.

The Great Fire of Moscow in 1547 began on June 24,  destroying sections of Moscow which had been built almost entirely of wood. It swept into the Kremlin and blew up the powder stores in several of the Kremlin's towers.

St. Basil's Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible), for Saint Basil the Blessed and built in Moscow's Red Square, the city's geographic center, between 1555-1560. The cathedral was consecrated on July 12 1561.

St Bail's Cathedral By David Crawshaw - Wikipedia Commons

In 1571, the Crimean Tatars raided Moscow, burning everything but the Kremlin.

The newly built St Petersburg replaced Moscow as the Russian capital in 1712. Peter The Great ordered every Moscow family with fewer than 30 families of serfs to pack up their belongings and move to the newly created city.

View of 17th-century Moscow (1922 drawing by Apollinary Vasnetsov)

Peter The Great hated the Kremlin where as a child he had witnessed the brutal torture and murder of his mother's family. When he built his capital at St Petersburg he forbade even the slightest repair on stone buildings in Moscow asserting that every mason was needed in the new city.

A devastating fire on June 6, 1752 destroyed one-third of Moscow, including 18,000 homes.

Moscow University was established on January 25, 1755. January 25th  is celebrated as St. Tatiana's Day, the end of the first term of the traditional academic year for Russian students. It is followed by a two-week winter holiday.

During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the Muscovites burned their city on September 14, 1812 and fled, as Napoleon’s army was on their doorstep.  The Fire of Moscow died down four days later after destroying more than three quarters of the city. Napoleon returned from the Petrovsky Palace to the Moscow Kremlin, spared from the fire.

French invasion of Russia in 1812, Fire of Moscow, painting of Smirnov A.F., 1813

One month after Napoleon Bonaparte’s huge invading force entered a burning and deserted Moscow, the starving French army was forced to begin a hasty retreat out of Russia on October 19, 1812.. The French emperor and his hungry and cold army were nearly destroyed during their journey home by the freezing Russian winter.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union on March 12, 1918.

The Moscow Circus School was established in 1927. Performers were trained using methods developed from the Soviet gymnastics program.

The  1980 Summer Olympics were held in Moscow. A number of nations including the USA boycotted the games to protest against the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

McDonalds opened its first restaurant in Moscow in 1990. The massive eatery remains one of the largest McDonald's in the world with 900 seats and more than 20 cash registers.

When the USSR ended in 1991, Moscow continued to be the capital of Russia.

By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of Moscow more than doubled, going from 1,091 to 2,511 square kilometers (421 to 970 sq mi).

FUN FACTS

Moscow is Europe's biggest city and the seventh largest city in the world.

View from Imperia Tower to Ostankino Tower

Moscow traffic is horrendous. As a consequence, some wealthy Muscovites have bought ambulances so that they can drive around freely during rush hour.

The Trans-Siberian train from Moscow to Vladivostok takes a week to complete its journey.

Moscow weathermen can be fined for inaccurate weather forecasting.

Moscow was named the world's most expensive city for non-Russian workers for three years in a row between 2006-2008. In 2009, however, Moscow went down to third after Tokyo and Osaka came in first and second.

The Ostankino Tower is a television and radio tower in Moscow, owned by the Moscow branch of unitary enterprise Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Network. Standing 540.1 metres (1,772 ft) tall, Ostankino is currently the tallest freestanding structure in Europe.

Ostankino Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in Europe and 8th tallest in the world

The biggest bell in the world is the Tsar Bell cast in the Kremlin in 1733. It weighs 216 tons, but  is cracked and has never been rung.

The Russian State Library in Moscow is the largest library in Europe and the second largest in the world, behind the Library of Congress.

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