Ekaterina Romalute
Svoya Tropa guide

Russian History: Moscow

Russian History: MoscowMoscow has a unique history. An early mention of the city first appears in 1147, and contrary to popular belief, Moscow did not always use to be the capital of the country. Today, the founding father of the city is considered to be the Russian Prince Yuri Dolgoruky, who in 1147 had a dinner with friends in the Moskovsky town, named after the local Moscow river.


Shortly after, a small fortress was built here on Borovitskaya mountain, which later grew into a large complex, now called the Moscow Kremlin, but back then it was a small town, a neighbor of Vladimir, which was considered the second most important city of the state.


Moscow's location on the banks of the Moskva river has played a key role in the city's history. It was important because the river connected the strategically important Oka and Volga rivers. Such a location and rapid population growth led to the fact that a little more than a hundred years later, the Moscow state was founded here, and the local dynasty, which first ruled the Moscow Principality, later became the ruler of all of Russia.



Since the 14th century, Moscow has competed with Tver for power and influence, but later after having been attacked by the Moscow Prince Ivan Kalita and Mongol troops, Tver was not able to recover from such an attack and Moscow became a religious and cultural center. At the same time, the construction of the “new Kremlin” began, now however, white stone was used instead of wood.


At the end of the 15th century, most of the Russian lands had already been consolidated around Moscow. Ivan IV, also known as Ivan Grozny, declared himself "Tsar” (from the Latin word “Caesar”) of Moscow and all of Russia, but after his death, no heir out of the ruling dynasty was able to succeed the ruler and the country fell into the so-called “smuta” time, during which Moscow was occupied by Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Once the occupation was over, Mikhail Romanov was appointed as the new Tsar, and a new dynasty arose, which ruled the country for 300 years.


In the early 18th century, the new Russian Emperor Peter I founded a new city built according to European standards in the North of the country - Saint Petersburg and transferred the capital there. But Moscow did not lose its status as the capital completely, because Russian emperors continued to be crowned here. It was Moscow that Napoleon tried to conquer in 1812, but Moscow citizens burned most of the city down before leaving it to the French troops.


After the revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks moved the capital back to Moscow and soon it became the capital of the Soviet Union. Moscow has become a rapidly growing and thriving metropolis, and it still remains one of the largest and most important cities in Europe. During the Soviet Union, the Moscow metro appeared, one of the most convenient and beautiful transport systems in the world.


During World War II, the city yet again became a major battleground and target for invading troops. Most Moscow’s citizens were evacuated from the city as Soviet soldiers fought the Nazis in the battle of Moscow from October 1941 to January 1942. The defeat of the Nazis in this battle was one of the main turning points in the war.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow continued serving as the capital, this time, however, of a new state - the Russian Federation. Today, Moscow is an extremely diverse city, with old neighborhoods juxtaposed with newly built skyscrapers. This is where Russian history was made.



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