The Red Square originated in the late 15th century under the rule of Ivan III as the Trinity Square, which was named after the Trinity Cathedral, which once stood where St. Basil’s now stands. The square was Moscow’s central meeting place for festivals, government announcements, executions, and public gatherings. In 1918 the square became a communist cemetery and parade ground, and then in 1924 it became the site of Lenin’s Mausoleum. The rule of the Bolsheviks brought destruction upon many of Moscow’s churches, including the famous Kazan Cathedral.
One of the most celebrated events that took place on the Red Square was in 1945 when the Russian military participated in a parade and then marched directly to fight the Nazi’s on the front line and defeated them. Today, the square is still a joyous place where concerts are held.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is quite possibly one of the most photographed buildings on the planet with its attractive brightly colored spirals. This project was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate a military battle against the Mongols in 1552. The nine spirals are each chapels and represent nine different victories in the campaign against the Mongols.
Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible had the designing architect’s eyes put out after the completion of the Cathedral in order to prevent him from ever creating something so beautiful again.
The other celebrated cathedral on Red Square is the Kazan Cathedral. As previously stated, the original Kazan Cathedral was destroyed during the rule of the Bolsheviks on the Cathedral’s 300th anniversary. After its destruction, cafes and shops were created on the site to prevent an immediate reconstruction. In the 1990s, the government did decide to reconstruct it though, and today it is a fully functioning church with regular services.
GUM Department Store
The GUM Department Store is a historic shopping mall that faces the Red Square. Even the mall has quite a remarkable past. In the early 1900’s the mall was a very popular place to shop, and housed over 1200 stores. In 1928, Stalin shut the doors of GUM and used it as office space for his governmental committees that were working on his first Five Year Plan. Following the suicide of his wife, Nadezhda in 1932, the mall became a viewing place of her body. GUM department store reopened its doors as a mall in the 1950s. Today, many of the stores showcase designer brands from the west.