I couldn’t wait to go and stand on the Red Square; this has always been one of my dreams. I couldn’t believe I was about to realize this dream.
When I got out of the metro I was greeted by loads of Russian souvenir stalls lining the way to the gates. I loved walking through them, having a look at all the brightly coloured matryoshka dolls and all the fur hats that are sold here. It also looked like each and every stall sold tot glasses and flasks with the old SSSR emblems on them.
Before you walk through the gates and enter the Red Square you cross a plaque that marks the middle point of Moscow. From here all distances are measured and it is seen as good luck to stand in the middle of this circle and throw money into the air.
This apparently also means you will definitely return so I made sure to wait my turn to stand on the middle point of Moscow and to throw a coin into the air and over my shoulder. There were a couple of really old ladies (they are called “babushka” which means granny in Russian) standing around the middle point and as soon as my coin hit the ground they scrambled to pick it up. This definitely beats begging and I am sure they have an endless supply of tourists standing there having their pictures taken while throwing coins.
On my list was not just to stand on the Red square but to have a coffee on the Red square so I stopped at a small stall at the entrance and bought a coffee for myself.
I couldn’t contain my excitement as I walked through the gates and onto the Red square, I felt like a little kid in a candy store.
As I walked across the Square it took a while to take in the grandeur of centuries gone by. This was my first look at the Kremlin which was on my left. I stood there like a real tourist just staring at the Kremlin towers and its surrounding red wall. Standing right in front of the Lenin mausoleum staring at the Russian guards guarding it was awesome. Here I was surrounded by hundreds of years’ history having my first cup of coffee of the day on the Red square!!
I read somewhere that the square’s name has nothing to do with communism or with the colour red, although the history museum and the Kremlin walls are all red. In fact it derives from the word ‘krasnyi’, which once meant ‘beautiful’, and has only come to mean ‘red’ in contemporary Russian.
As I continued my slow walk across the square I had the famous GUM shopping centre on my right. This is the most expensive shopping centre in Moscow and in its time it was the biggest in Europe!
But the sight that took my breath away was when St Basil’s Cathedral appeared in front of me at the end of the Red Square. Setting eyes on the Cathedral and its onion domes for the first time took my breath away. It is truly an amazing cathedral.
I found that the Red Square remains, as it has been for centuries, the heart and soul of Moscow. Few places in the world bear the weight of history to the extent that Moscow’s central square does.
No matter how many times I walk across the Red Square, it stays mystical.