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The History
of Moscow

11 Interesting Facts about Moscow

A city of white stone, a city of golden domes, a city that never sleeps — it's impossible to remain indifferent about Russia's capital. With a history spanning over eight centuries, Moscow has gone through a great deal of grief and experienced a lot of joy, but it has always remained true to itself.

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Year 1147

'In the summer of 6655. Yuri went to war with the land of Novgorod; he came and conquered Novy Torg and Msta in its entirety. Yuri has sent a message to Svyatoslav and ordered him to go to war with the land of Smolensk. Svyatoslav went there and conquered the people of Golyad and people up the Protva, and his men have captured many people there. Then Yuri sent him a message saying "Join me in Moscow, brother". These lines from the Ipatiev Chronicle are indeed the first written mention of the city — prince Yuri Dolgorukiy was calling on the prince of Chernigov, Svyatoslav Olegovich, to join him at the feast. By that time, there was a settlement on Borovitsky hill, surrounded by ramparts. The Kremlin was founded on that spot shortly thereafter.

14th century

By the 14th century, Moscow wasn't just a large city, it was its own princedom. Metropolitan Petr moved the religious capital here from Vladimir. Prince Ivan Kalita wisely used the right to collect tribute from Russian lands and expanded his possessions. Trade also brought him considerable revenue because the capital of the Principality stood at the intersection of many roads. The Kremlin itself also grew, now protected by strong walls of oak.

Year 1367

Dmitry Donskoy, son of Ivan Kalita, followed in his father's footsteps: he ordered the erection of walls of white stone that would protect the fortress from enemies. When Moscow was besieged by the forces of Olgerd, the Great Prince of Lithuania, the Kremlin withstood the assault. The towers and churches within the fortress were quickly restored after the forces of the Golden Horde attacked Moscow several years later.

Year 1495

The Kremlin was thoroughly transformed in the 15th century: Ivan III invited Italian masters to rebuild the fortress. Decrepit buildings had to be renovated, and new fortifications had to be constructed. The Assumption Cathedral, Archangel Cathedral and Church of the Deposition of the Robe were built one after another, and the walls of white stone built during Dmitry Donsky's reign were replaced with walls of red brick with crenellated battlements. The Kremlin became an impenetrable fortress.

Year 1755

Three faculties, thorough screening of the professors and personal review of the most important issues by the monarchs themselves — such were the guidelines on which the Imperial Moscow University was founded by Elizaveta Petrovna on 25 January, the day of the Holy Martyr Tatyana. Generations of philosophers, lawyers and physicians graduated from this institution. The university campus was located near Red Square, occupying the building of the former Zemskoy Prikaz, which used to be situated at the present-day location of the Museum of History.

Year 1781

A new symbol appeared on the seal of the Great Prince Ivan III when he became the ruler not just of the Principality of Moscow but of the entire Rus — a horseman killing the dragon. Foreign emissaries were all in agreement: it had to be Saint George slaying the dragon. It became known as George the Victorious much later, when the crest of Moscow was described as such by Peter the Great. And that is how this image has made its way onto official documents. In 1781, this is the description that was provided for it: 'Saint George on horseback, same as on the state crest; on a red field he strikes down the black dragon with a spear.'

Year 1871

How does one find out how many people live in this city, the original capital? One has no other choice but to count every single one: almost a thousand people per day went out conducting a census. Here are their results: at the time, there were 354 thousand men and 248 thousand women living in Moscow. A nationwide census was held in Russia only 8 years later.

The years 1935–1957

The 20th century has brought about many changes to the city: its appearance was rapidly changing. In the late 1930s, an 11.2-kilometre metro line started operating underneath the city, connecting Sokolniki and Park Kultury stations. After the war, construction of several high-rise buildings began in Moscow to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the capital. MSU, the Hotel Ukraina, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the residential buildings on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment and on Kudrinskaya Square, a building near Krasnye Vorota, and finally, the Leningradskaya Hotel—all of these high-rise buildings became true gems of the city.

The years 1980–2018

The Soviet Union was the first nation in Eastern Europe to host the Olympic Games. Moscow was once again in the spotlight of international attention: athletes from over 80 countries around the world came to participate. Mishka, a giant teddy bear with a kind smile became the symbol of those summer games. It was created by the artist Victor Chizhikov. The touching closing ceremony of those Olympic games was broadcast and viewed around the globe: people shed tears as they waved goodbye to Mishka as he disappeared into the skies above Luzhniki stadium. Thirty-eight years later, the Russian capital hosted the FIFA World Cup. Football fans were so impressed they weren't very keen on leaving Moscow at all, and they promised to come back to admire its streets and boulevards again.

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