Located in the western part of Russia, Moscow is the capital of the country and the largest city in the European subcontinent. With over 40 percent of its area covered in greenery, Moscow is one of the greenest large cities of the world. This fact combined with much architectural splendour, that dots the city makes for a charming cityscape.
Being the northernmost and coldest metropolis in the world, the city experiences a severe winter. For those who can brave the weather, the snow-covered landscapes make for a breathtaking vista. By April sunshine creeps in to thaw the city and by summer Moscow is in full bloom, the most popular time for visitors.
From medieval times to the rule of the Tzars in Russia to the formation of USSR and finally the Russian Federation in 1992, Moscow has been at the centre of many world-changing historical events. World Heritage sites like the Kremlin and the Red Square and other symbols of its past abound alongside the contemporary structures that allude to its position as a leading global city.
In The Box Seat
The snow-white reception desk peeks out at the pedestrians walking past the glass doors of the Sleepbox Hotel in downtown Moscow. The futuristic design of the ground floor is in sync with the concept of the hotel. Maps, railway schedules and wall-mounted iPads make up the information zone next to the reception desk.
The three floors above are fitted with Arch Group’s sleep-boxes, originally designed to meet the need for a spot of quiet in the middle of chaotic spaces like airports, malls, etc. By fitting an unused building with sleep-boxes, Arch Group has created an inexpensive hotel in a premium location.
Wooden double boxes take up floors two and three while the black and white single boxes occupy the fourth floor. The ceiling and the floor is uniform across all the floors to ensure continuity and harmony between all the spaces. An area on each floor has been set aside for shower and toilet cabins lined up in a row.
Joints between each cabin illuminated with LED give the space an ultramodern look. With an excellent location and privacy at cheap prices the Sleepbox Hotel looks to fill the gap between hotels and hostels.
On A Prayer
A riot of colours grabs the attention of all visitors to the Red Square. This motley arrangement of onion-shaped domes and towers is the St. Basil’s Cathedral, the most recognised image of Russia. Each dome is decorated in different colours and different patterns, lending it an appearance that is not usually associated with a place of worship.
Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, St. Basil’s Cathedral houses nine cathedrals. A maze of stairways and arches within the cathedral connect all the chapels. Geometric and floral patterns in a myriad of colours stretch across the interior walls and ceiling. St. Basil’s Cathedral’s oriental vibe is evocative of Russia’s connect with both Europe and Asia.
Shop Till You Drop
Departmental store may be the category it may fall under but that is not a term that can define GUM by the widest stretch of one’s imagination. Built over a century ago as Upper Trading Rows, the present GUM is a trading and entertainment complex.The 242 metres long façade of the building stretches across the eastern length of the Red Square. The three levels inside are linked to each other by walkways.
The most dramatic element of GUM is the semi-circular arched glass roof that tops the mammoth building. The use of glass lends lightness to its appearance and allows natural light to filter in. A recent addition is an illumination project that uses light to highlight the architectural elements in the building’s façade. GUM is a classic example of bridging legacy and development.
Eat Like The Gods
If first appearances are anything to go by, the ornate entrance to the restaurant Godunov sets the tone for the unique experience that lies ahead. Housed in an erstwhile monastery founded in the 17th century, the restaurant recreates the charm of dining in an old Russian mansion.
Divided into three halls – red, yellow and green – the restaurant manages to exude warmth despite the elaborate interiors. Intricate patterns extend from the walls to the gold-plated ceiling.
Wooden tables and carved chairs and antique light fixtures add to the lavish ambience. The menu which is made up of recipes curated from ancient culinary books completes the vintage experience.
Text By Himali Kothari