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The huge grey building with vertical ridges, and a dark granite portal decorated with a gold insignia is the State Duma – the Russian Parliament. The front entrance looks onto Okhotny Ryad street, while the side flank of the building faces Tverskaya street by the entrance to “Okhotny Ryad” metro Station.
The building's original occupant was the State Planning Ministry or “GosPlan”, which remained here until the USSR imploded. From 1928 GosPlan set the Five-Year Plans by which the economic fortunes of the USSR were intended to advance, and be regulated. These Five-Year Plans controlled the entire Soviet Union. In 1931 Stalin said ‘We lag a century behind developed countries. We have to catch-up that gap in ten years. If we don't – they will crush us’. “Catch up and overtake” became the shibboleth of the whole country for decades to follow. It was a quotation from Lenin's book “The Impending Catastrophe And How We Must Fight It”, and became one of the most frequently-repeated cliches of the Soviet era.
The building for the GosPlan Ministry of Planning was built in 1935, and would later be used by the State Duma. The overhang and portals were fashioned from polished red-grey granite. The exterior tiles were ransacked from the former Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour – which had been sacrilegiously torn down in 1931. Marble from the former cathedral was also used in the building of “Okhotny Ryad” and “Kropotkinskaya” metro stations. The tiling which had the names of heroes of the 1812 Campaign couldn't be re-used, so it was crushed to make path-gravel in parks, or for trimmings to civic buildings. It was originally planned – by the Planning Ministry – that the new GosPlan Building would be the first building on a new boulevard of similarly titanic proportions. However, the big plan failed to materialise.
The present Duma building was built on the site of the C17th Church of St.Paraskeva, which was torn down to make way for the new edifice. During the Soviet Era, there was no official “Parliament” - instead the country was nominally run by the Party Congress, which met in the Palace Of Congresses within the Kremlin. During the Yeltsin era the Parliament moved first to the White House (where it rebelled against Yeltsin, and he shelled it with artillery until it surrendered), and then subsequently to the former GosPlan building, which remains its current home.
Moscow is the capital of the ancient and modern Russian state. It has been playing crucial role for centuries. Here you can face all episodes of rich and gorgeous Russian history.
The city is full of historical buildings, monuments, cathedrals, museums and parks. It started many centuries ago from the Kremlin – medieval city-fortress overlooking the Moskva River. Now it is not only the government seat but open air museum. Behind the tall red brick walls palaces, cathedrals and museums are hidden. You can get there through one of the gates and walk along the streets that saw Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter the Great and all other Romanovs, and the Soviet leaders.
You can visit all the cathedrals on Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square, climb Ivan the Great Bell Tower, take photos of the Tzar Bell and Tzar Cannon, see state regalia, ceremonial vestments and gold and silver relics in the world-known treasury-house – the Armoury Chamber. To say more, the Kremlin and its vicinities are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We would like to advise you not to concentrate on the Kremlin only. Now you can get out of the Kremlin through the Spasskiye Gate and find yourself on Red Square – the main square of the country where Victory Day parades take place. In winter there is a skating rink with some kind of souvenir bazar. Red Square is famous for being the part of so called Kitai-Gorod – the second ring of fortified walls. Here you will see the beautiful fairy-tale St. Basil’s Cathedral. It is open for tourists and it’s worth visiting. Other places that pay tourists’ attention are GUM (the main center for shopaholics), Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State History Museum and the small Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of Our Lady. If you go along Nikolskaya Street, you will get to Lubyanka Square with the imposing buildings of former KGB and the biggest in Russia Children's World Department Store.
If you decide to go through the Resurrection Gate you will find yourself on Manezhnaya (Manege) Square at the entrance to the Alexander Garden. It’s a large pedestrian open space and a nice place to walk and relax near the fountains. Underground Trade Centre ”Okhotny Ryad” or “the Hunter’s Row” is a paradise for shopping. You can continue your walk towards Arbat or Tverskaya Street. There are also fine buildings to visit and to take pictures of: The Shilov Art Gallery, hotels “Moskva”, “Nationale”, Pashkov's House, The Former House of the Moscow State Duma etc.
If you decide to turn round Georgy Zhukov’s horse monument you’ll occur on Revolution Square where you can visit the Museum of Patriotic War of 1812. From there it’s very easy to get to Teatralnaya or “Theatre” Square limited by the Metropol Hotel, The Bolshoi and the Maly Theatres. In the center you will find a beautiful fountain by Vitali.
All these sites and even more you will be able to visit and explore with knowledgeable audio excursion with offline map from Your Audio Guide “Attractions around the Kremlin”. You will find Moscow very pleasant for spending holidays.