Fodor's Expert Review Red Square
Famous for the grand military parades staged here during the Soviet era, this vast space was originally called the Torg, the Slavonic word for marketplace. Many suppose that the name "Red Square" has something to do with Communism or the Bolshevik Revolution. In fact, the name dates to the 17th century. The adjective krasny originally meant "beautiful," but over the centuries the meaning of the word changed to "red," hence the square's present name. The square is most beautiful and impressive at night, when it's entirely illuminated by floodlights, with the ruby-red stars atop the Kremlin towers glowing against the dark sky. There are five stars in all, one for each of the tallest towers. They made their appearance in 1937 to replace the double-headed eagle, a tsarist symbol that is again an emblem of Russia. The glass stars, which are lighted from inside and designed to turn with the wind, are far from dainty: the smallest weighs a ton.