Few places in the world hold as powerful a place in the American imagination as Moscow. Once seen as the epicenter of our political enemies, this historic powerhouse now embraces Americans who seek to discover Moscow’s endless array of cultural treasures. Moscow remains the heart of Russian identity, from its massive Soviet armaments to its countless vodka bars and blini cafes, and you’ll get to know its history during included excursions to iconic Red Square, the State Armory, Maiden Square and more. Perhaps you’ll join an Optional Moscow Circus excursion, or you might explore the city at your own pace for the chance to replace cold war memories with warm welcomes.
- It's Included:
- Airfare from Moscow to Kiev
- Accommodations for 4 nights in Moscow
- 7 meals—4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners
- 3 small group activities
- Services of an expert local guide who speaks English and the native language
- All transfers
Fly from the U.S. to Moscow, Russia.
Arrive in Moscow on Day 2, where we'll be greeted at the airport by an OAT representative and transferred to our hotel. We get to know our fellow travelers as we celebrate over a Welcome Dinner tonight.
Set out this morning to explore Russia’s modern capital on an included tour. On this morning’s included excursion, we see the expansive view of Moscow from the vantage point of Sparrow Hills, formerly called the Lenin Hills. These hills overlook the city from a steep bank on the south side of the Moskva River and give us a view of the famed Moscow State University, one of the scientific centers of Russia.
We will pass by the gleaming Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a distinctive structure that is an integral part of the Moscow skyline, as it is visible from so many points in the city center. Reconstructed in the 1990s, it is the largest church in Russia.
We’ll also visit Novodevichy (New Maiden) Cemetery, where Russian luminaries such as writers Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol and former president Boris Yeltsin are buried.
Our discoveries continue as we get a true flavor of life in Moscow, joining the bustle under the streets during a ride on Moscow's Metro, considered one of the best subway systems in the world. We ride the metro to the heart of the city, Krasnaya Ploshchad, known in English as Red Square. In the 16th century, krasny meant "beautiful," but its meaning changed over centuries to mean "red." Red Square does not refer to communism but rather to the beauty of the stonework in the city square. In the 16th century, the square became a place for state ceremonies, where they have been held ever since. Lunch is on your own here.
Once you’ve been introduced to Red Square, enjoy time on your own this afternoon to make discoveries here or elsewhere in this modern city.
After breakfast, we’ll tour the Kremlin, probably the most recognized icon of the mystery and intrigue of the former Soviet Union. It is actually a walled city built as a fortification and ringed all around by 15th-century towers. As we see, the Kremlin is the very heart of Moscow, with the city’s streets radiating outward in circles and the Kremlin standing as the focal point of the inner ring.
Construction of the Kremlin began in the twelfth century on the small Borovitsky Hill (translated as Pine Grove Hill, reflecting the stands of evergreens that used to line it) along the north bank of the Moscow River. Almost every ruler of consequence since then has directed construction in the Kremlin, so it is a wonderful collection of widely varying architectural styles. The citadel is surrounded by a mile of red brick walls 65 feet high and up to 20 feet thick. Along these are battlements and gated entryways interspersed with 20 towers, the tallest standing 264 feet high. Most visitors enter the ancient Kremlin grounds through Kutafya Tower. In addition to being the official residence of the Russian president, there are numerous museums and six cathedrals (one of which we visit) within the walls. The Kremlin not only represented the political power of the country from tsars to Soviet prime ministers, but in earlier centuries it was also the religious heart of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Our exploration of the Kremlin includes a tour of the State Armory, the oldest museum in Russia. Some of the Armory collection housed here dates to the 16th century and was originally stored in a stone chamber. In the 1840s, this Russo-Byzantine building was designed to protect the Kremlin’s collection of valuable weaponry, jewels, and ceremonial robes and articles.The museum’s collection has grown, and we will be able to see historic armor (Russian and foreign), royal thrones covered with thin plates of gold and studded with diamonds, imperial carriages, coronation robes, and the wedding dress of Catherine the Great. Some of the world-famous Faberge eggs, created by Carl Faberge, the jeweler to the tsars of Russia, are on display, as well as ornate twelfth-century decorations of Russian gold and silver, Russian weaponry in jewel-studded cases, battle-axes, sabers, and lavish equestrian harnesses and saddles. Here are the vestments of the tsars—priceless silks, velvets, and brocades, encrusted with jewels and pearls.
After lunch together in a local restaurant, explore the city at leisure, or join us for an optional Moscow Circus excursion. This artful performance has enjoyed international acclaim for many years. The circus showcases trained animals and daring acrobatic feats. You’ll also see the art of juggling, along with the humor and merriment that are unique to a circus atmosphere.
Tonight, dinner is on your own.
This morning, enjoy an included tour of the Tretyakov Gallery in Zamoskvorechye, one of the oldest districts in Moscow, just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. As the National Museum of Russian Fine Art, the Tretyakov Gallery features a collection of more than 130,000 paintings, sculptures, and graphics from Russian artists dating from the eleventh to the 20th centuries. Here, we may view paintings by Repin, Levitan, and more.
After lunch on your own, the balance of the day is free to seek out Moscow’s myriad delights, from the historic to the cutting edge. Compare notes with fellow travelers over dinner together in a city restaurant.
After breakfast, we fly to Kiev, Ukraine to begin our Ukraine & Moldova main trip.