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Moskva River, Russia

Ivan III (Ivan the Great)



Little is known about the foundation of Moscow. The first appearance of Moscow in literature is around 1147, so it is likely that it was founded sometime before that. On the banks of the Moskva River, the settlement of Moscow was able to steadily grow. During much of Moscow’s early history it was dominated by the Golden Horde. The principalities of the area all paid tribute and were in constant conflict with the Mongol invaders.
In 1325 Moscow became the centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. Christianity had spread from Kiev many years earlier and provided some limited unity between the principalities of the area. After the capture of Kiev the church moved first to Vladimir then to Moscow. After the fall of Constantinople some people considered Moscow and it’s leaders to be the successors to the Byzantine emperors and believed Moscow was destined to become the ‘Third Rome’.
Ivan III (Ivan the Great) the Grand Prince of Moscow was set to expand Moscow’s power in the late 1400's with his attack on Novgarod. In 1480 he stopped paying tribute to the Golden Horde and after the subsequent battles Moscow was freed of the Mongols. At this time Moscow’s control stretched from Novgorod to the Ural Mountains. Ivan IV (Ivan the terrible) further consolidated Moscow’s control incorporating Kazan and areas of the Volga. He was crowned as Russia’s first ‘Tsar’ (Caesar) and Moscow was now the centre and capital of the Russian empire.
Moscow is a city that has seen many disasters, and fires, having been burnt down many times. Moscow’s continued importance is evident in the fact that it was Napoleon’s main objective when he attacked Russia in 1812. During the French invasion of Russia, the Muscovites burned the city and evacuated, as Napoleon’s forces were approaching on 14 September. Napoleon’s Grande Armée, plagued by hunger, cold and poor supply lines, was forced to retreat and was nearly annihilated by the devastating Russian winter and sporadic attacks by Russian military forces.

As the Bolsheviks seized power, Moscow's population was around 1.4 million. Lenin decided to move the capital back to Moscow, and his government took up residence in the Kremlin. Development of Moscow increased dramatically under Stalin’s control. Stalin made plans to urbanize the whole city, demolishing large parts of the city and building sky-scrapers. Under Stalin’s power Russia was attacked by Hitler. A bloody fight began for Moscow. The German army made it within 30km of the Kremlin, and a long and bloody battle raged for the city through one of Russia’s coldest winters on record. Russia held out, and now the city is still the architectural and cultural capital and is home to millions of people.

Neva River

Alexander Pushkin

Palace Square

St Petersburg

Founded by Peter the Great in 1703 on the barren marshlands of the Neva River as Russia’s “Window to the West,” St. Petersburg emerged as a practical and symbolic vehicle for transforming parochial Russia into a competitive European empire. Its physical and spatial setting, encompassing built forms, open spaces, and waterways, is a remarkable achievement of urban planning and design. That achievement is a result of the sustained and self-renewing power of strategic planning and design mandated by key sovereigns—from Peter the Great to Catherine II and particularly Alexander I—who sought to transform their new city into one of Europe’s preeminent capitals and cultural centers. That such an improbable project succeeded was also due to the caliber of the architects whose talents to create urban ensembles and integrate them into the city’s overall physical and spatial fabric were recognized and encouraged by these sovereigns.

St. Petersburg evolved as a major city of culture, immortalized in the writings of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Andrei Bely. St. Petersburg’s cultural institutions, housed in imposing buildings and ensembles ranging from leading educational establishments to grand theaters, concert halls, conservatories, and renowned museums, are among the city’s most enduring architectural monuments. The city’s apex as an international center of literature, music, theater, and ballet and as the scene of a lavish and turbulent social life was reached in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The city grew rapidly in the latter 19th century; its area increased as a newly emerging Russian entrepreneurial class built elaborate mansions, apartment houses, and commercial facilities. Buildings also multiplied in the center, built closer and closer together, prompting art and architectural organizations to mobilize popular support for protecting St. Petersburg’s historic core against an onslaught of adverse urban development. For all that, the growing city displayed a remarkable harmony of style.

Following the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the transfer of the capital to Moscow in 1918 from what was then Petrograd, the city fell in status from an imperial capital to a regional center. Nevertheless, Petrograd—renamed Leningrad following Lenin’s death in 1924—sought to maintain its identity as a Westernizing outpost. As the city of the poets Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova and the composer Sergei Prokofiev, it continued to flourish as a center of intellectual and cultural life through the 1920s and 1930s.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the former imperial capital has gone through tremendous changes. Residents voted to restore the city’s name from Leningrad to St. Petersburg. Determined to revive its once-glorious standing as Russia’s gateway to Europe, the city is in the midst of a bold new plan to revitalize its historic center. The plan seeks to sustain St. Petersburg’s singular classical architectural and urban setting while advancing the aspiration to modernize the center’s cultural and physical infrastructure for the 21st century.

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Russiat has lots to offer, here is a quiz on ancient Russiat one of the most fascinating civilizations in history

Russian civilians flee as the German warplanes bomb their city

Napoleon Bonaparte

Bronze Horsemen

The Heroic Defenders of Leningrad

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