Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum


  • This majestic building on Red Square serves as the resting place of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
  • One of the best creations of Russian architect A. V. Shchusev, the building of the Mausoleum is recognized as an outstanding architectural monument.
  • The Mausoleum is open to visitors, but visitor information is available in Russian only.

It seems like there no other reminder of the Soviet era is more distinctive than the monumental building of the MausoleumRussian: Mavzoley or Мавзолей in Red Square. The embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, the main organiser and leader of the 1917 October Revolutiona revolution in Russia led by the Bolsheviks with Vladimir Lenin as a leader that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917, rests here, at the very heart of the capital.

Political Significance

The Mausoleum of Lenin is not just a tomb: for the Soviet regime, it became a monument on a nationwide scale, a representation of public gratitude, and an illustrative symbol of the fact that Lenin’s cause remained alive. The Soviet leaders made political statements and inspected parades from its surrounds. Every member of the Communist party considered it their duty to visit Red Square Mausoleum to pay tribute to their leader. In 1953, Stalin’s corpse was placed there too, though only for a short period of time though: it was removed and buried in 1961 as part of de-Stalinisation. Thus, the mausoleum was named the ‘Lenin and Stalin MausoleumRussian: Mavzoley V.I.Lenina i I.V.Stalina or Мавзолей В.И.Ленина и И.В.Сталина’ between 1953 and 1961.

2_s The attitude to the Mausoleum is ambiguous today. The majority of Russian society is indignant about the fact that the unburied body lies right on the country’s main square. Lenin’s ideas and actions are considered disputable and are vigorously condemned by many people. However, it is hard to change the situation: burying the leader of the world proletariat might cause a serious divide in the country. The building of Moscow Mausoleum is justly recognised as a monument of architecture and one of the best creations by Alexey Shchusev, a key personality in the history of Soviet architecture.

If the Russian history is a subject of your interest and you want to know, for example, what is the oldest church in Moscow, what are the famous monasteries around Moscow, which style of Moscow architecture you can see only in this town, you can read on our website pages about Kreml and “History and Architecture”.

Lenin body mausoleum: history of construction

The project of the first Mausoleum was designed by Shchusev in 1924, after Lenin’s death. It was developed within a very short period of time, and a wooden cubic building with a pyramid on top (as a visual reference to burial constructions of Ancient Egypt) stood in Red Square as soon as three days after the leader’s death. On both sides of it, there were pavilions used for the entrance and exit of visitors who came to pay tribute to Vladimir Lenin. The site of the Mausoleum was not chosen randomly: a necropolis of Red GuardsCore units of the Red Army during the Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War and communist figures (Inessa Armand, Yakov Sverdlov, Vadim Podbelsky, and others) had already formed there during the first years of Soviet rule.

На трибуне деревянного мавзолеяA country-wide competition for the best design of the permanent mausoleum was announced soon after that. The archives still hold many drawings made by different people, some of whom were just amateur artists of humble origins. The projects included some very unusual versions: a giant castle with towers, a glass pyramid topped by a globe, a huge cave… There even exists a proposed building shaped like an armoured car. Most of those dreamlike drawings were unfeasible in real construction practice, which is why it was then decided to accept only projects developed by professionals.

Shchusev’s project was acknowledged as the best, so it was used to erect the new wooden building of the Mausoleum. Shchusev dealt brilliantly with his task and the Mausoleum became a real monument, a building of a symbolic function. The architect himself would say afterwards that he created ‘a composition of a terraced monument and a tribune at the same time’ to visually illustrate the slogan ‘Lenin is dead but his cause is alive’. The rigorous, ultimately simple geometrical forms of the construction echoes the majestic ziggurats of Mesopotamia. Yet they did not look formal or antiquated: Shchusev managed to bring some jovial asymmetry into the composition.

Саркофаг ЛенинаLenin’s body stayed in that wooden mausoleum for five years, but then the mausoleum started to decay, which was caused by the inappropriate ground coat: there used to be a moat in that place. That is why the construction of a stone building, almost mirroring the design of the wooden one, started in 1929. This ferroconcrete building with brick walls was coated with porphyry, granite, and Labrador spar. The red colour of the stone, the colour of revolution and the Soviet flag blends well with the colour of the Kremlin. The black colour symbolises mourning, which creates a grave mood and reflects grief. The only decoration of the Mausoleum is a huge black one-piece slab with a laconic inlaid inscription ‘LENIN’. According to the architect, the weight of the stab is about 60 tons.

Общий вид траурного залаIt took a lot of effort to create the Mausoleum as apart from actually constructing the building, it was necessary to design the memorial hall and a tomb chest with the right angle of the glass to cover the slope (to avoid flecks). Soviet scientists also had to develop new methods of embalming and corpse storing. Finally, it was necessary to ensure the security of the building, as there had been several attempts to damage Vladimir Ilyich’s body: people shot at it, tried to pour ink on it, and even to blow up at the building with Lenin’s Tomb.

As time passed, Soviet power diminished and became a thing of the past. No more parades were held from the Mausoleum tribune, and the guard of honour was removed from its entrance. However, the Lenin Mausoleum still stands in Red Square of Moscow having become a natural part of its environment.

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total number of grades: 13, average rating: 4.31 (from 5)
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Within Garden Ring

Nearest Metro Station

Teatralnaya, Okhotny Ryad, Alexanrovsky Sad


Red Square, Moscow


Museum Opening Hours / Ticket Office Opening Hours

Tu: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
We: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Th: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Sa: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Su: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Days off

Monday, Friday

Ticket Price

Admission is free.

Visiting Rules

In the Mausoleum taking any photo or video, as well as carrying inside of appropriate equipment, are not allowed. Also, you can not get in with large bags and containers for drinks. They should be left in the storage room in Alexander Garden. In the memorial hall it is forbidden to keep hands in pockets. Men should remove their headdress.


A queue to Lenin's wooden mausoleum. An old photo
General view of the funeral room
Stand of the wooden mausoleum. An old photo
Mausoleum: Lenin, Stalin
During WWII Lenin's Mausoleum was transferred to this building in Tyumen
K. S. Melnikov, author of Lenin's first sarcophagus
Aleksey Viktorovich Shchusev, designer of Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's sarcophagus
Lenin's funeral. An old photo
First Mausoleum. An old photo
Lenin's Mausoleum in 1924. An old photo
Lenin's corpse in the House of the Unions
Guard of honour at Building No 1
Lenin's Funeral in January 1924. An old photo
One of the Mausoleum's projects submitted to the contest
Moscow Victory Parade of 1945. Soldiers throwing the banners of Nazy Germany down next to the Mausoleum
A queue to the Mausoleum. 1970s
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Featured reviews

Visitor rating:   4.0

November 2016
The only good thing about it is that the turn moves quickly. Light is too bright, there is no solemn music and instead of the dress-up guards inside - the police in jackets. There was neither greatness nor respect, unfortunately. It's easy to get in the Mausoleum, the entrance is from Alexander Garden, but study the schedule.

November 2016
This place full of ambiance is located in the heart of our country. When I passed by the coffin of Lenin and then by the memorials of the general secretaries and eminent persons of our country, many thoughts were running through my head. I'm sure, everyone will have its own kind of thoughts, but the main thing is that they will flow very fast. I highly recommend it to everyone not indifferent to the history of his country!

October 2016
The Mausoleum impressed us with its unusualness and some weird energy. Our guests have never seen such a mummy and agreed readily to go to the center in the morning to visit in particular the Lenin Mausoleum. The leader didn't change at all, the hand is in the same position... and even the costume seems to be the same...

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