Red Square

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Coordinates: 55°45′15″N, 37°37′12″E

Red Square (Russian: Красная площадь, Krasnaya ploshchad) is the most famous city square in Moscow. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter, known as Kitay-gorod. As major streets of Moscow radiate from here in all directions, being promoted to major highways outside the city, the Red Square is often considered the central square of Moscow and of all Russia.

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[edit] Origin and name

The land that Red Square is situated on was originally covered with wooden buildings, but cleared by Ivan III's edict in 1493, as those buildings were dangerously susceptible to fires. The newly-opened area (originally known simply as the Pozhar, or "burnt-out place") gradually came to serve as Moscow's primary marketplace. Later, it was also used for various public ceremonies and proclamations, and occasionally as the site of coronation for Russia's tsars. The square has been gradually built up since that point, and has been used for official ceremonies by all Russian governments since it was established.

Image:Surikov streltsi.jpg
The rich history of the Red Square is reflected in many artworks, including paintings by Vasily Surikov, Konstantin Yuon, and others.

The name of Red Square derives not from the colour of the bricks around it, nor from the link between the colour red and Communism. Rather, the name came about because the Russian word красная (krasnaya) can mean either "red" or "beautiful" (the latter meaning is archaic). The word was originally applied (with the meaning "beautiful") to Saint Basil's Cathedral, and was subsequently transferred to the nearby square. It is believed that the square acquired its current name (replacing the older Pozhar) in the 17th century. Several ancient Russian towns, such as Suzdal, Yelets, or Pereslavl-Zalessky, have their main square named Krasnaya ploshchad, namesake of Moscow's Red Square.

[edit] Recent history

During the Soviet era Red Square maintained its significance, becoming the main square in the life of the new state. Besides being the official address of the Soviet government, it was renowned as the location for military parades. Kazan Cathedral and Iverskaya Chapel with the Resurrection Gates were demolished to make room for heavy military vehicles driving through the square. There were plans to demolish Moscow's most recognized building, Saint Basil's Cathedral, as well. The legend is that Lazar Kaganovich, Stalin's associate and director of the Moscow reconstruction plan, prepared a special model of Red Square, in which the cathedral could be removed, and brought it to Stalin to show how the cathedral was an obstacle for parades and traffic. But when he jerked the cathedral out of the square, Stalin objected with his famous quote: "Lazar! Put it back!"

Two of the most significant military parades on Red Square were the one in 1941, when the city was besieged by Germans, and troops were leaving Red Square straight to the front lines, and the Victory Parade in 1945, when the banners of defeated Nazi armies were thrown at the foot of Lenin's Mausoleum.

On May 28, 1987, a German pilot named Mathias Rust landed a light aircraft on St Basils' Descent next to the Red Square. In 1990, the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square was among the very first sites in the USSR added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

[edit] Sights

Each building in Red Square is a legend in its own right. One of these is Lenin's Mausoleum, where the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union is displayed. Nearby is the elaborate bright-domed building of Saint Basil's Cathedral and also the palaces and cathedrals of the Kremlin. On the eastern side of the square is the GUM department store, and next to it the restored Kazan Cathedral. The northern side is occupied by the State Historical Museum, whose outlines echo those of Kremlin towers. The only sculptured monument on the square is a bronze statue of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who helped to clear Moscow from the Polish invaders in 1612, during the Times of Trouble. Nearby is the so-called Lobnoye Mesto, a circular platform where public ceremonies used to take place. The square itself is around 330 meters long and 70 meters wide.[1]

Image:Redsquarenight.jpg
Red Square at night, with Lenin's Tomb (center)

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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Red Square

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