12 exciting facts about Moscow
We want to present some facts about Moscow which we, ourselves, find exciting and often contrary to the popular beliefs.
1. Red square has nothing to do with the Red army or Kremlin walls red color. In fact, Kremlin used to be of white color at the time when the square got its name. Red in old Russian also meant “beautiful”
2. Moscow Boulevard Ring used to be the city wall by 1780th. The wall has been dismantled in 1780th because of the city expansion and then turned to boulevards.
3. Garden Ring (“Sadovoe koltso”), now one of the key Moscow highways, used to have real gardens or alleys on both sides of the road before 1937. You don’t see the gardens anymore because in 1937 the city government decided to widen the road for the increasing traffic and get rid of the gardens. Here’s the picture of B. Sadovoya st (Mayakovskaya station) from 1934 and 1986.
4. There’s almost no building in Moscow built earlier than 1812. The reason is the Great Fire upon Napoleon invasion which destroyed most of the city. The oldest remaining buildings are mostly churches which were built from stone.
5. Tver, now half-a-million people city, 200 km from Moscow, had equal chances to become the capital of Russia back in 14th century. There used to be a fierce competition between the two principalities for getting the label for the reign of Russia from the Golden Horde, which in the end was won by Dimitry, the prince of Moscow.
6. The air in the West part of Moscow has better quality than the air in the East due to the wind rose
7. In the Medieval time the current territory of Moscow was fully covered by dense forests.
8. In the same picture you can see the small river flowing in front of the old Kremlin which you can’t see anymore walking near the Kremlin. The river is still there, of course, but after 1812 when Moscow was reconstructed after the great fire, the river was put into pipes.
9. Moscow is not really a cold place. In fact, it’s not colder than Northern European countries or northern states of the USA. The average temperature in winter doesn’t go below -10 degree C and in some winters it barely has snow. It’s the Eastern part of Russia which is cold. See the chart with the average Janurary temperutures across Russia.
10. The majority of the current Moscow beyond the 3d Transport Ring (and partially, even beyond the Garden Ring) were still the villages in 1960th. Many of the Moscow district bare the names of those villages: Cheremuski, Vykhino, Altufievo, Izmailovo, etc.
11. Moscow accumulates almost 10% of the whole Russia population (12M out of 140M), even by official account. The key reasons are higher wages (Moscow median wage is 70% higher than Russian overall) and availability of workplaces which make people move from the rest of Russia. Besides, there’re many people living up to 100km from Moscow travelling each day by train to work.
12. The majority of supermarkets in Moscow are open till 11pm, many are 24 hours, 7 day a week. Non-food retail is normally open till 10pm. That’s why the Muscovites are very surprised when they find out that this is not the case in most European cities.