All cities have vantage points which reveal their most scenic views. Moscow’s are particularly diverse. You can enjoy views of the city from the walls of historical monuments, from modern high-rise buildings, as well as picturesque embankments. Almost all of these vantage points can be visited any day. Some of Moscow’s best views are from museum complexes, others are located in skyscrapers, others (such as the famous Sparrow Hills) – are just a natural part of the cityscape.
The Ivan the Great bell tower
The first point in your itinerary might be the Ivan the Great bell towerRussian: Kolokolnya Ivana Velikogo or Колокольня Ивана Великого on Sobornaya squareRussian: Sobornaya ploschad or Соборная площадь of the Moscow Kremlin (BorovitskayaRussian: Боровицкая metro station, the Kremlin, Sobornaya square, admission by tickets). At present, the bell tower is part of the Kremlin museums. Tourists can go up to a height of 25 metres and view a display about the history of the Kremlin’s architecture along the way. A beautiful view of Moscow opens up from the top. In previous centuries, before multi-storey and dense building development, you could see as far as 25-30 kilometres from the bell tower, which made it a key watch point for the city’s defense. While you can’t see so far today, it doesn’t prevent the bell tower from being one of the best places to view the city.
The bell tower is the church of St. John ClimacusRussian: tserkov Ioanna Lestvichnika or церковь св. Иоанна Лествичника. It was built around 1508 and consecrated in the name of the patron saint of Tsar Ivan III the Greatknown as the "gatherer of the Rus' lands", he ruled from 1462 until 1505 (hence the name Ivan the Great). It was made to the design of Italian architect Bon Fryazin. However, it was completed only in the early 17th century under the rule of Boris Godunovwas elected tsar of Muscovy (reigning 1598–1605) after the extinction of the Rurik dynasty. It was at that time that the bell tower’s height was raised to 81 metres. After that it remained the tallest building not only in Moscow but in the rest of Russia for a long time.
You should bear in mind that you will need to go up 137 steps to reach the viewing point. Not everyone can manage it.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Another vantage point in the centre of Moscow is the Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Khram Khrista Spasitelya or Храм Христа Спасителя (KropotkinskayaRussian: Кропоткинская metro station; 15, VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка street, admission by ticket). The cathedral was designed by architect A. Ton in the mid-19th century, but was blown up by the Bolsheviksmembers of a wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, which, led by Lenin, seized control of the government in Russia (October 1917) and became the dominant political power in 1931, and restored in the 1990s. This vantage point has a some advantages over the Ivan the Great Bell Tower as you can see the entire panorama of the Kremlin. The height of the observation areas at the corners of the building (under the bell towers) is 40 metres. They reveal a view of the whole city centre. Conveniently, visitors can also tour the cathedral and its museum to find out the story of its construction and reconstruction. The observation areas are also accessible by lifts.
The Ostankino Tower
The highest vantage point in the city is located on one of the top floors of the Ostankino TowerRussian: Ostankinskaya telebashnya or Останкинская телебашня (15, Akademika Koroleva streetRussian: ulitsa akademika Koroleva or улица академика Королева, VDNKhRussian: ВДНХ; admission by ticket). It is the tallest building in Europe and the 10th tallest in the world. The tower was built in 1960-67 by structural designer N. Nikitin and architects L. Batalov and D. Budin. They say that the concept for the tower was developed overnight: Nikitin decided to make the base of the tower in the shape of a lily leaf. The height of its spire is 540 metres, and today the building houses numerous TV channels and radio stations.
There are two publically accessible observation areas in the Ostankino tower: an open-air deck at a height of 340 metres (available only in the warm season) and an indoor area at the height of 337 metres. The immense height gives visitors a chance to see all of Moscow and its suburbs. It is a truly breathtaking experience. In one part, the floor of the observation area is made from transparent glass, challenging visitors to test their courage. Visitors can also experience the tower’s high-speed lifts and study a small display dedicated to the history of the building’s construction.
Skyscrapers of Moscow
Yet another observation area has recently appeared in Moscow CityRussian: Moskva-Siti or Москва-Сити. An isle of modern skyscrapers right in the city centre, it impresses with its modern, large scale. However, many Muscovites consider that the business quarter with its high-rise buildings has irreversibly disfigured the historical image of the city. For those who do not wish to have views of skyscrapers, the viewing point on the 58th floor of the Empire towerRussian: bashnya «Imperiya» or башня «Империя» will be the best option, because it is the only place where you cannot see the business centre itself (Delovoy tsentrRussian: Деловой центр metro station; 6, bld. 2, Presnenskaya embankmentRussian: Presnenskaya naberezhnaya or Пресненская набережная, admission by ticket). The observation platform offers a good view, is located in a modern building, and is accessible fast lifts travelling at 7 meters per second. The business complex is centrally located (4 km away from the Kremlin) and has good transport links. The area is incredibly beautiful at night – the perfect location for watching sunsets.
If you want to combine the pleasant with the even more pleasant, in the Federation towerRussian: bashnya «Federatsiya» or башня «Федерация» on the 64th floor there is a fine-dining restaurant called Sixty (Delovoy tsentr metro station; 12, Presnenskaya embankment). It is considered to be one of the most expensive places in the city, but the price buys you immersive views of the city (if you book a table by a window). The restaurant is the highest in all of Europe, and visitors highly rate the quality of its cuisine.
Another good vantage point in the centre of the city is a bar called City Space in the Krasnye Kholmy hotelRussian: gostinitsa «Krasnye kholmy» or гостиница «Красные холмы» (PaveletskayaRussian: Павелецкая metro station; 52, bld. 6 Kosmodamianskaya embankmentRussian: Kosmodamianskaya naberezhnaya or Космодамианская набережная). Its visitors can have a good time in the bar while enjoying a wonderful, 360 degree panorama of the city. Situated not far from the city centre, the bar provides an opportunity to see the Kremlin up close and carefully examine the Stalinist high-rise buildings – they are easily recognised against the background of modern buildings.
Even if you are in a beautiful historic area or a tidy park, walking around the huge city takes up a lot of energy. For you to have a rest in the best way, on the pages of our website there is a lot of information about the best restaurants in Moscow, best bars and list of some Moscow nightlife tips.
Sparrow Hills and the Moscow Univercity building
Moscow also offers a number of vantage points that are not man-made, and can be visited for free. You can visit while making your way through the capital’s other attractions. A favourite place for both Muscovites and visitors is located on Sparrow HillsRussian: Vorobyovy Gory or Воробьевы Горы, right by the river Moskva Russian: Moskva-reka or Москва-река(Vorobyovy GoryRussian: Воробьёвы горы metro station, 18, Kosygina strRussian: ulitsa Kosygina or улица Косыгина.). Here, you have a view over almost the whole city, including all the Stalinist high-risesa group of seven skyscrapers in Moscow designed in the Stalinist style. The site is also right in front of the Main building of the Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyi universitet imeni M.V. Lomonosova or Московский государственный университет имени М.В. Ломоносова – another Stalinist marvel. The Botanical GardenRussian: Botanicheskiy sad or Ботанический сад is close by too. Newlyweds often visit this site to walk and take photographs. Motorbike enthusiasts also often gather here at night to ride along the wide deserted avenues.
Walking around Sparrow Hills can be educational as well: nearby, you can visit the Earth Science Museum of the MSURussian: muzey Zemlevedeniya MGU or музей Землеведения МГУ, although booking in advance is recommended (UniversitetRussian: Университет metro station, 1A, Leninskiye HillsRussian: Leninskiye gory or Ленинские горы). The museum occupies the 24-31st floors of the Main building, which gives you a chance to get to one more of Moscow’s vantage areas. You can clearly see both the city centre and a big part of the Moskva river with the new residential areas behind it.
Poklonnaya Gora and the citycentre
Another popular location is Poklonnaya GoraRussian: Поклонная гора (Park PobedyRussian: Парк Победы metro station). Although the view from it is not as far-reaching as others, the place is a significant Russian war memorial. You can also visit the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic WarRussian: Tsentralnyi muzey Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny or Центральный музей Великой Отечественной войны here. This is the place many Muscovites go on the evening of 9 May to enjoy fireworks in celebration of Victory Day. You can see fireworks from all across the city here – an incredibly beautiful sight.
While walking around the city centre, you may want to stay a bit longer on the bridges – the Kamenny, the Patriarshy, and the Krymsky bridgesRussian: Kamennyi, Patriarshiy i Krymskiy mosty or Каменный, Патриарший и Крымский мосты (they follow one another from the Kremlyovskaya embankmentRussian: Kremlyovskaya naberezhnaya or Кремлевская набережная to the Frunzenskaya embankmentRussian: Frunzenskaya naberezhnaya or Фрунзенская набережная). From there, an all-round view opens up over the embankments, the Kremlin, and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
There are numerous vantage points in Moscow, each of which is worth visiting. Despite all of Moscow’s modern buildings, the capital remains a city where you can find anything from majestic panoramas to picturesque landscapes. The main thing is to find the time to stop and enjoy the beauty.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com