21 Best Sights in Kitai Gorod, Moscow

Bolshoi Theater

Kitai Gorod Fodor's choice

Moscow's biggest (bolshoi means "big") and oldest theater, formerly known as the Great Imperial Theater, was completely rebuilt after a fire in 1854. Lenin made his last public speech here in 1922. The splendor of tapestries, balconies, crystal chandeliers, and gold-leaf trim is matched by the quality of the resident opera and ballet troupes, two of the most famous performing-arts companies in the world. If you want to see a performance at the Bolshoi, be sure to book one of its 2,155 seats as far ahead as possible because performances can sell out quickly. To the left of the Bolshoi is the RAMT (Russian Academic Youth Theater), which puts on performances with a talented group of young actors. This is where you'll find the Bolshoi's main ticket office. The plaza, with fountains and fine wooden benches, is a nice spot for a relaxing look at the theater.

Sanduny Bath House

Kitai Gorod Fodor's choice

This impeccably clean banya, known also simply as "Sanduny," is probably the city's most elegant bathhouse, with a lavish blue-and-gold-painted interior dating to the early 1800s. The entrance is marked by wrought-iron lamps and a circular marble staircase. The VIP section has a pool surrounded by marble columns and a lounge with leather booths. Note that the banya essentials of a towel and a sheet to sit on in the steam room cost extra; you can also bring your own. You can also purchase birch branches, which you may be able to convince a fellow bather to beat you with (or you can hire a trained masseuse there to do it). This is a classic Russian banya procedure that's supposedly good for the skin. There is a thorough list of rules and recommendations printed in English at the ticket booth. On-site facilities include a beauty parlor and, of course, more traditional massage.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan

Kitai Gorod

Built between 1633 and 1636 to commemorate Russia's liberation from Polish occupation during the Time of Troubles, this church was purposely blown up in 1936, at the beginning of a planned remodeling of all Kitai Gorod that was to help usher in a new industrial era. The centerpiece of the area was to be a monumental House of Industry, but neither the House nor the plan ever came to fruition. The current cathedral is a replica, rebuilt and fully restored in 1993. Its salmon-and-cream–painted brick and gleaming gold cupolas are now a colorful magnet at the northeast corner of Red Square, between the Historical Museum and GUM. Inside and outside hang icons of Our Lady of Kazan; every inch of the impressive interior is covered in frescoes and whorled floral patterns. Many worshippers visit throughout the day.

8 ul. Nikolskaya, at Red Sq., Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Daily 8–7, except Mon., when it closes at end of 5 pm vespers service. Sun. services at 7 and 9:30 am

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Cathedral of the Epiphany

Kitai Gorod

This church is all that remains of the monastery that was founded on this site in the 13th century by Prince Daniil of Moscow. A good example of the Moscow baroque style, the imposing late-17th-century cathedral sits among former mansions and current government buildings near Red Square. One exit of the Ploshchad Revolutsii metro station is directly across the street. The entire church, both inside and out, has been restored in recent years, though the rather plain interior pales in comparison to the bright pink bell tower and walls of the facade.

Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God "The Sign"

Kitai Gorod

This solid redbrick church, topped with one gold and four green onion domes, was part of the monastery of the same name, built on the estate of the Romanovs in the 17th century, right after the establishment of the Romanov dynasty. The church was indeed a sign of hope, as the election of the young Mikhail Romanov as tsar by the Boyar Council brought an end to the so-called Time of Troubles, as the dark period marked by internal strife and foreign intervention that set in after the death of the last heir to Ivan the Terrible was known.

8--12 ul. Varvarka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia

Chambers of The Romanov Boyars in Zaryadye

Kitai Gorod

It's believed that Mikhail Romanov (1596–1645), the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty, was born in this house. Today the mansion houses a lovely museum devoted to the boyar lifestyle of the 16th and 17th centuries. Period clothing, furniture, and household items furnish the rooms, illustrating how the boyars, a feudal aristocracy, lived. During the week the museum is often open only to groups with advance reservations—these are typically throngs of school children—but if you ask, you may be allowed to join. Tours are available in English, but you must make reservations.

10 ul. Varvarka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
495-698--1256-Information desk
sights Details
Rate Includes: 300 R, Mon-Sun: 10--6, Wed: 11--7, Closed Tues.

Church of All Saints in Kulishki

Kitai Gorod

This fine example of 17th-century religious architecture was built in honor of the Russian forces who won the decisive Battle of Kulikovo three centuries earlier between Muscovy and the Tatar Golden Horde. Standing at the southern end of Slavyanskaya Square below a sloping park, the graceful church is one of the few survivors of the Soviet reconstruction of the area. Inside it's rather dark and the walls highly gilded; every inch of the ceilings are covered in frescoes. Morning (8:30) and evening (5:30) services are held daily.

2 pl. Slavyanskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 109074, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: Mon.–Sat. 8--10, Sun. 8--6

Church of St. George he Victorious on Pskov Hill

Kitai Gorod

This majestic five-dome church with blue cupolas studded by gold stars, built in 1657 by merchants from Pskov, stands right next to the Romanov Palace Chambers in Zaryadye. The bell tower is an addition from the 19th century. The interior of the church is somewhat bare, though there are a few impressive old icons and frescoes.

12 ul. Varvarka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia

Church of St. Maxim the Blessed

Kitai Gorod

In 1698 this white-stone church was built on the site where the Holy Fool Maxim was buried. It's between St. Barbara's and the Cathedral of the Sign (in front of the northern side of the bare field where the Hotel Rossiya once stood). The church's exterior is in a sad state, dingy with exhaust from the cars that speed by on ulitsa Varvarka, and the interior is currently closed to visitors.

4 ul. Varvarka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
No phone

Church of the Trinity in Nikitniki

Kitai Gorod

Painted with white trim and topped by five green cupolas, this lovely redbrick creation—one of the most striking churches in the city—mixes baroque decoration with the principles of ancient Russian church architecture. Its handsome semblance is unfortunately hidden from view from the nearby Staraya Ploshchad, tucked away as it is among presidential administration buildings. The church was built between 1628 and 1634 for the merchant Grigory Nikitnikov; the private chapel on the south side was the family vault. The murals and iconostasis were the work of Simon Ushakov, a famous icon painter whose workshop was nearby in the brick building across the courtyard. The church has two areas for worship, one on the ground floor and the other up a set of stairs; the upper one is used only on holidays. The lower area is open daily. The shop inside sells candles, icons and other small items.

3 per. Nikitnikov, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: Daily 8:00 AM (Opening)

Gostiny Dvor Arcade

Kitai Gorod

This former market, which takes up an entire block between ulitsas Ilinka and Varvarka, just east of Red Square, is made up of two imposing buildings. Running the length of pereulok Khrustalny is the Old Merchant Arcade, erected by the Italian architect Quarenghi between 1791 and 1805; on the other side of the block, bordering pereulok Rybny, is the New Merchant Arcade, built between 1838 and 1840 on the site of the old fish market. The complex now houses a number of restaurants, art galleries, and shops, though none of them are worth making a special trip to visit. Besides the facade, the only parts of the building of historical interest are the capacious glass-topped arcade inside and a small exhibition of the structure's old molding and other features, displayed simply in a set of rooms on the western side of the complex.

4 ul. Ilinka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia

Gulag History Museum

Kitai Gorod

After being yanked from their beds in the middle of the night and loaded onto cattle cars, many of those purged by Stalin were shipped off to the camps of the infamous Gulag. The Soviet Union's network of prison camps is the focus of this small but moving museum. The entrance to the museum is through a simulated gauntlet with metal gates, barbed wire, and a guard tower. Inside the crumbling building are six rooms with paintings of camp scenes, many of which were done by former prisoners. Glass cases hold prisoners' personal effects, including handicrafts they made, such as walrus-tusk cups and a metal cigarette case, and other Gulag-related documents and pictures. The bottom floor has a life-size diorama of typical camp bunks and an isolation cell. There are often excellent temporary exhibits here as well. Guided tours are available in English but must be booked in advance.

1-y Samotechniy Pereulok 9, Moscow, Moscow, 127473, Russia
495-621--7310-Administration Contact number
sights Details
Rate Includes: 300 R, Fri.–Wed. 11--7, Thurs. 12--8;, Closed Mon. and last Fri. of the month

Ivanovsky Convent

Kitai Gorod

Among the noblewomen who were forced to take the veil here were Empress Elizabeth's illegitimate daughter, Princess Augusta Tarakanova, and the countess Dariya Saltykova, who was imprisoned here after she murdered 138 of her serfs, most of them young women. Built in the 16th century and restored in the 19th century, this convent was used as a prison in the Stalinist era and was in shambles for many years after that. The convent is open for services.

Maly Ivanovsky Pereulok 2, Moscow, Moscow, 109028, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Daily 7:30--8

Lubyanka Square

Kitai Gorod

Now called by its prerevolutionary name, this circular "square" had been renamed Dzerzhinsky Square in 1926 in honor of Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Soviet revolutionary and founder of the infamous CHEKA, the forerunner of the KGB. His statue once stood in the center of the square but was toppled in August 1991, along with the old regime. It now resides in the sculpture garden next to the Central House of Artists in the Kropotkinsky District. Instead, a slab of stone now stands in the middle of the square, as a tribute to those who were oppressed by the Soviet government. The stone comes from the Solovetsky Islands, once home to an infamous prison camp. The large yellow building facing the square, with bars on the ground-floor windows, was once the notorious Lubyanka Prison and KGB headquarters. The KGB Museum, which chronicles the history of espionage in Russia, is in an annex of this building. However, it has been closed for several years, fittingly, for an undisclosed reason.

Maly Theater

Kitai Gorod

Writer Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), known as the father of Soviet socialist realism, once called this theater famous for its productions of Russian classics "the Russian people's university." It opened in 1824 and was originally known as the Little Imperial Theater (maly means "little"). Out front stands a statue of a beloved and prolific playwright whose works are often performed here, the 19th-century satirist Alexander Ostrovsky.

1 pl. Teatralnaya, Moscow, Moscow, 125009, Russia
495-624--4046-Ticket Reservation
sights Details
Rate Includes: Daily from11--10, Weekends and Holidays from 11--7


Kitai Gorod

Built at the turn of the 20th century in preparation for the celebrations commemorating 300 years of the Romanov dynasty, the Metropol underwent reconstruction in the late 1980s to restore its brilliant art nouveau facade to its original colorful guise. The ceramic mosaics are especially arresting when the sun bounces off the tiles. Look for the Princess "Greza" panel made by Mikhail Vrubel, as inspired by the plays of the French writer Edmond Rostand, and a mosaic depicting the four seasons. The hotel was the focus of heavy fighting during the revolution, and it was also the venue of many historic speeches, including a few by Lenin. For some time the Central Committee of the Russian Soviet Federal Republic met here under its first chairman, Yakov Sverdlov. The small café-bar is a sophisticated spot for tea, coffee, and a selection of delicious cakes and pastries. The expense is worth the calming effect of comfy, padded seats and intimate service.

Monastery of the Holy Mandylion

Kitai Gorod

The monastery was founded at the beginning of the 17th century by Boris Godunov. Russia's first institution of higher learning, the Slavonic-Greco-Latin Academy, was opened in this building in 1687. Many an illustrious scholar studied here, including scientist and poet Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–65) from 1731 to 1735. Hidden inside the courtyard is the monastery's cathedral, Spassky Sobor, built in 1600–61 in the Moscow baroque style. The tower of the church is under ongoing renovation, but the interior is intact, and services are held daily.

7–9 ul. Nikolskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia

Museum of Russian Icons

Kitai Gorod

One of the largest private collections of Eastern Christian art in the world displays icons and other Christian pieces dating back to the first century. Many of the Russian icons have been beautifully restored and the work continues under a resident master icon restorer.

3 ul. Goncharnaya, Moscow, Moscow, 109240, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Thurs.--Tues. 11--7, Closed Wed.

Old English Court

Kitai Gorod

Built in the mid-16th century, this white-stone building with a steep shingled roof and narrow windows became known as the English Court because Ivan the Terrible—wanting to encourage foreign trade—presented it to English merchants trading in Moscow. It then took on the role of England's first embassy. In 1994 Queen Elizabeth II presided over the opening of the building as a branch of the Museum of the History of Moscow. Displays about Russian–British trade relations over the centuries are probably most interesting to visitors from the United Kingdom.

4a Ulitsa Varvarka, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: 200 R, Tues.-Sun. 10--6, Thurs. 11--9, Closed Mon. and last Wed. of the month

Polytechnical Museum

Kitai Gorod

The achievements of science and technology, including an awesome collection of early-20th-century Russian cars, fill an entire Moscow block. The monumental building that houses the museum was built in 1875 by Ippolit Monigetti, a Russian of Italian birth whose day job was designing annexes on the royal family's country estates. The endless series of exhibits—miners' lamps, Soviet televisions, even a full-scale replica of the USSR's first atomic bomb—can be overwhelming and esoteric, but kids love it. There are also many good temporary exhibits, as well as the movie museum (mostly Soviet animation films) and a small planetarium at the southern entrance.

3/4 pl. Novaya, Moscow, Moscow, 101000, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: 150--300 R, Daily 10--10, Closed Mon.

The Museum of Moscow

Krasnaya Presnya

In a former 19th-century warehouse, exhibits explore Moscow's architectural and cultural history through paintings, artifacts, and amusing life-size dioramas. Unfortunately there is no written information in English, making it difficult to glean much from the exhibits unless you read Russian or have a guide.

2 bul. Zubovskiy, Moscow, Moscow, 119021, Russia
sights Details
Rate Includes: 200 R, Tue-Wed: 10--10, Thurs: 11--9, Fri-Sun:10--10, Closed Mon. and the last Fri. of the month