One of the most iconic squares in the world is located right in the heart of Russia’s capital. Red Square in Moscow is one of the oldest squares in the city that was quite literally built around it over the centuries to become an enormous metropolis of over 20 million inhabitants (entire metropolitan area).
Apart from being one of the oldest, it’s also one of the biggest squares in the city. This virtually rectangular-shaped square has a width of about 70 meters (230 feet) and a total length of 330 meters (1082 feet). That’s quite huge, don’t you think?
This also means that there are multiple fascinating monumental structures located directly on the square, and in this article, we have compiled a list of the 12 Red Square Buildings, some of the most amazing landmarks in Russia.
PS: The buildings and monuments on Red Square are listed in clockwise order.
1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral
This marvelous cathedral was constructed between 1555 and 1561 and is situated on the south side of the square, right on the spot that once marked the original Red Square which was much smaller than it is today.
2. Eastern Kremlin Wall
The Eastern Kremlin Wall is the eastern part of the defensive wall of the Moscow Kremlin, a huge fortified complex in the heart of the city. This immense wall runs all along the square and forms its western boundary.
On each end of the Kremlin Wall, there’s a 15th-century tower, the Spasskaya Tower on the south side, and the Nikolskaya Tower on the north side. The iconic Spasskaya Tower stands 71 meters (233 feet) tall and is an iconic sight on the square.
3. Lenin’s Mausoleum
Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as “Lenin’s Tomb,” is one of the most remarkable monuments constructed during the Soviet Era. It serves as the final resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and his body has been on public display here ever since his death in 1924.
The monument has the shape of a step-pyramid similar to the Pyramid of Djoser in Egypt. The two original versions were made of oak until it the current structure was completed in 1930 in granite and Labrador stone.
4. Kremlin Wall Necropolis
The Kremlin Wall Necropolis is another monument located near the Kremlin Wall and can be found right behind Lenin’s Mausoleum. This cemetery of honor was created in the year 1917 to bury about 250 soldiers who passed away during the October Revolution that year.
Hundreds of highly regarded people of the Soviet Era were buried here along with them between 1920 and the 1980s, including several military leaders and 12 statesmen. This also includes Stalin whose remains were moved here from Lenin’s Mausoleum in 1961.
5. State Historical Museum
Another iconic structure on the square is the State Historical Museum, situated on the northwestern side of the square, on the opposite side of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. This dark red building was built between 1875 and 1883 which makes it one of the latest additions to the square.
It replaced the first Pharmacy building in Moscow, an 18th-century structure that also briefly served as the First Moscow State University campus. Today, the building serves as the most famous and biggest history museum in Russia that has over 4.5 million items on Russian history on display.
6. Resurrection Gate
The Resurrection Gate is the main entrance to the square on the northwestern side. It was originally constructed in the year 1680 and used to be a major component of the fortifications of the historical Kitai-Gorod neighborhood which borders Red Square.
The gate features two arched portals and two massive towers, and even though these famous Red Square buildings look authentic, they are replicas of the original structures. These were dismantled in 1931 so the Communist regime could pass with their military equipment through the gates to hold their daily display of perceived strength.
7. Former Government Administration
The Former Government Administration building is situated right next to the Resurrection Gate and is a much less conspicuous structure. It was built between 1733 and 1740 and has since then served as the headquarters of the administration of the city of Moscow.
The original structure was destroyed by the troops of Napoleon in the early 19th century but was rebuilt shortly after in the second decade of the 1800s. The courtyard of this building features the original state mint which produced silver coins. This preserved building dates back to the year 1697 and was commissioned by Peter the Great himself.
8. Kazan Cathedral
Right next to the administrative headquarters of the city we find the Kazan Cathedral, a structure that was originally constructed in the 1620s. The church was named after the icon of Our Lady of Kazan and has been an important building for followers of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Unfortunately, the original was also demolished during the Soviet Era in the year 1936, but rebuilt shortly after the Fall of Communism in the early 1990s. The replica of the original church was completed in the year 1993, making it one of the first of the countless demolished structures to be rebuilt after the abolition of the Soviet Union.
9. GUM department store
The GUM Department store is one of the most famous shopping malls in Russia and occupies just about the entire eastern section of the square. This also means that it’s huge with a total floor space of 35,000 square meters (376,736 square feet). GUM is the State Department Store and an abbreviation of “Main Universal Store.“
This magnificent building was completed in the year 1893 and replaced another local trade center that was constructed in the year 1815. The building was constructed in the Russian-historical architectural style and features about 60,000 glass panels on the roofs of its passageways.
10. Former Wholesale Building
The easternmost point of the square is occupied by a building referred to as the “Former wholesale building.” This used to be one of the main commercial spots in Moscow referred to as the “Middle Trade Ranks” featuring countless market stalls.
When the Communists came to power in the 1920s, the building was used as the headquarters of various government agencies and until recently it was used by the Russian military. The building is currently undergoing serious renovations and there are plans to turn it into a hotel.
11. Lobnoje Mesto
The Lobnoje Mesto is a stone podium located right in front of the Former Wholesale Building. It’s one of the oldest structures on the square, dating back to at least 1549 when it was first mentioned after the 19-year old Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) gave a speech there.
Apart from the occasional speech, Lobojne Mesto was mostly used to announce new Tsar decrees to the public. Apart from its main purpose, it also serves as a spot to perform gruesome public execution, including the quartering of Cossack rebel leader Stepan Razin in 1671.
12. Monument to Minin and Pozharsky
With the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, we’re right back on the southern end of the square. This monument is located right in front of St. basil’s Cathedral and depicts two Russian national heroes named Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitri Poszharsky.
These two men lead the voluntary army that fought back against the Polish-Lithuanian troops who occupied the city and eventually liberated Moscow in 1612. This monument was erected over 2 centuries later in 1818, shortly after Napoleon had been defeated and chased out of Russia in 1812.