20 Facts about the City of Moscow


Moscow is Russia’s most populous city and its political center. It is also the capital of its industrial, cultural, educational, and scientific capital. This city is also the spiritual center of the deep-rooted Russian Orthodox Church.

Moscow is a city that’s built on swamps! This is where its name is actually derived from, meaning ‘wet’. These top 20 facts about the city of Moscow are fascinating and sometimes surprising.

1. Moscow’s oldest surviving building is more than 550 years old

Assumption Cathedral – Wikimedia Commons

The Assumption Cathedral is Moscow’s oldest surviving building. It is a striking piece of architecture with five golden helmet domes and four semicircular gables.

Before Russia became revolutionized, it had this as its focal church and most heads of the Russian Orthodox Church were buried here. The Cathedral was built in the 1470s. If visiting the cathedral, a striking 1660s fresco of the Virgin Mary at the church will capture your attention. So will its brightness and warmth due to the use of color and space.

2. The world’s largest medieval fortress is found in Moscow

Moscow Kremlin on foreground- by Pavel Kazachkov- Wikimedia Commons

The Moscow Kremlin is the world’s largest medieval fortress. It is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow that was linked to all of Russia’s most important historical and political events from the 13th  century.

That Kremlin is composed of more than 15 buildings, 20 towers, and more than 1.5 miles of walls. The walls are 21 feet thick! A fortification indeed. The Moscow Kremlin is current Moscow’s President residence though he doesn’t actually occupy it.

3. Moscow hosts Russia’s largest zoo

Moscow Zoo entrance- by A.Savin – Wikimedia Commons

Russia’s largest zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals of 550 species from all over the world. Founded in 1864, this zoo is located in Moscow covering 49 acres. Its layout includes small, unbarred enclosures as well as large paddocks for herds. Interestingly, the Moscow Zoo remained open during World War II. However, much of it was destroyed.

4. Trains with the most frequency in the world are found in Moscow

Moscow Metro- by A.Savin – Wikimedia Commons

Imagine trains picking and dropping off passengers within just 1 and a half minutes of each other! That is exactly how busy trains at the Moscow Metro are during peak hours. This frequency tops any other subway in the world! Additionally, the Moscow subway is one of the cleanest and most efficient in the world.

The number of passengers that use the Moscow metro daily is more than those that use the London and New York subways combined! The Moscow subway opened its doors in 1935 and has 13 underground lines with 206 stations across the city. These stations are not drab at all- many of them are decorated with ornate chandeliers, frescoes, and marble columns.

 5. The City of Moscow hosts the World’s second-largest library

Russian State Library main building interior- by A.Savin – Wikimedia Commons

Also referred to as the Russian State Library, the Russian Public Library was founded in 1862, making it the largest in Europe and also the second-largest in the world! Only the US Library of Congress beats it in size. It has more than 47 million books, documents, and artifacts and receives at least 800 thousand visitors annually.

This library grew over time, with additions to it over the years, such as a reading room. The Russian State Library was once called Lenin Library, as well as the Lennon Bitlioteka in the 70s when the Beatles were very popular.

6. The City of Moscow is home of the Babushka doll

Babushka dolls variety- by Ph. Saget – Wikimedia Commons

The Babushka doll, Matryoshka, or nesting dolls are peculiar and recognizable in the world. They have their origins in Sergiev Posad, Moscow, in which Russia’s only school and museum of toys is located.

The Matryoshka doll got its name from pre-revolutionary Russia where the names Matrona and Matrёsha were considered most common female names based on the word ‘mother’. The names were also associated with the mother in a big family, in good health with a chubby figure, much like that of the doll.

Presently, the doll has been translated worldwide and features outstanding people such as presidents and sportspeople that come in sets. The Babushka doll is renowned as Russia’s traditional wooden toy.

7. The City of Moscow hosts the world’s largest university building

Moscow State University- by Dmitry A. Mottl- Wikimedia Commons

The largest university building in the world is about 240 meters high with 36 floors. This is the Moscow State University, Russia’s first University which was founded in 1755. It is also the most prestigious, molded after German Universities. A good fraction of its original faculty was German.

Moscow State University boasts notable alumni such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Turgenev, and Alexandr Herzen among others.

8. The City of Moscow hosts one of the largest urban parks in the world

Visitor at Izmailovo Park- by Kristy2906 -Wikimedia Commons

One of the largest urban parks in the whole world that sits on 1534 hectares is Moscow’s, Izmailovo Park. This can only be compared against New York’s Central Park, only it takes the title six times over! It can also be compared to Abramtsevo Park but is again 30 times bigger.

Izmailovo Park has a recreational area as well as a forest area. The recreational area has many activities such as an amusement park complete with rides, a children’s playground, a Ferris wheel, and a shuffleboard.

9. Europe’s largest botanical garden is found in Moscow

Moscow’s Botanical Garden- by AlixSaz- Wikimedia Commons

If you would like to see 18,000 plants from the Soviet Union and the world, Moscow is the city to visit. The Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences is Europe’s largest botanical garden that was founded in 1945.

In the garden, visitors are treated to botany 101, where a large exhibit area has plants grouped per their geographical regions that they are native of.

10. The City of Moscow boasts 7 identical skyscrapers

Seven Sisters side by side pictures- by okruz- Wikimedia Commons

It is fascinating that the City of Moscow has not two but 7 identical high rise buildings. Even more fascinating is the fact that these high rises host totally different activities. 2 of the skyscrapers are hotels, 2 are office buildings, and 2 are houses while the last is a university.

The high rise buildings are also referred to as Stalin Skyscrapers or Seven Sisters.

11. The City of Moscow FBI buildings were once torture chambers

Peasants tortured by Saltykova- by P. V. Kurdyumov – Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps ironical or befitting, the house on the corner of Bolshaya Lubyanka and Kuznetsky where the current Moscow Federal Bureau of Investigations has its buildings has a dark past. Darya Saltykova was a sadist landowner who would torture and kill many peasants due to debt.

12. The first man in space was buried in Moscow

Yuri Gagrin- by P. V. Kurdyumov- Wikimedia Commons

The City of Moscow had the honor of nurturing and burying the first man to visit space. Yuri Gagarin, a member of the Soviet Space Programme, good at his work. He died young, during a routine training mission. His contributions have been celebrated the world over. In fact, his hometown was renamed Gagarin as well as a crater on the far side of the moon. Additionally, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong left medals on the surface of the moon in his honor.

Yuri Gagarin’s remains have been buried at the Kremlin Wall in Moscow. Astronauts from the whole world come here to pay homage.

13. Victory Obelisk is Moscow’s highest Monument

Victory Obelisk- by GAlexandrova- Wikimedia Commons

Victory Obelisk is the highest monument in Moscow, located in the Minsk Victory Square which is a monument in Moscow. It was opened in 1995.

The Victor Obelisk stands at 141.8 meters high and is significant in that every 10 centimeters of its height represents a day of the Great Patriotic War. This monument takes in visitors.

14. Moscow has an underground river

Moscow’s Neglinnaya River used to flood thus its banks could not be inhabited. This led to the diversion of it. It was channeled to a pipe and currently flows underground in the reservoir. This solution was given in the 18th century. The Neglinnaya River, also known as the Neglinka River flows into the Moskva and Neglinnaya Street following the riverbed.

15. Moscow’s stray dogs can navigate the metro!

With the extreme winters in Moscow, its street dogs have adapted for their survival- these dogs hop on to the Moscow Metro daily and are smart enough to know where to alight. The mongrels go on to have a meal at their point of disembarking!

If you find this strange in Moscow, you just might be the only one as this is the norm. The dogs can even identify metro stops and have struck a rapport with the security guards! The rat population in the city of Moscow is low, thanks to these stray dogs.

16. Lenin’s corpse is preserved in a Mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square

Lenin Mausoleum at the Red Square- by NVO- Wikimedia Commons

Vladimir Lenin was head of the government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. He was a Russian revolutionary and politician. Lenin died in 1924 and his remains are preserved in a Mausoleum in the Red Square in Moscow, open for viewing! It is however speculated that this body isn’t real.

To keep the integrity of the corpse, scientists check on it every few days and monitor the condition of his skin to keep it looking natural. His body is also re- embalmed every 18 months.

17. The largest bell in the world is found in the City of Moscow

Tsar Bell- by W. Bulach- Wikimedia Commons

The Tsar Bell weighing a massive 200 tones is found in Moscow. This is the largest bell in the world! Like you might imagine this would be one difficult bell to ring- it has never been rung!

A bell of such proportions was not easy to put together- the Tsar Bell of Moscow had two other bells preceding it. The first broke when a fire razed the Moscow Kremlin’s wooden bell tower and it fell, while the second one that was made after this, and even bigger than the first, was similarly damaged.

The surviving bell also had fire woes of its own but survived it as some precaution had been taken- a 10-meter deep pit had been dug out near the Kremlin to cast the bell. This pit is where the bell fell into during another fire but it was impossible to get out for a period close to 40 years!

18. The City of Moscow has billionaire residents

The largest number of billionaires in the world were once found in the City of Moscow! Forbes listed 84 billionaires in Moscow, and in second place New York with 62 billionaires. The Moscow billionaires’ combined fortunes were up to the tune of at least 367 billion dollars.

The Moscow billionaires mostly reside in Moscow and London. These include businessmen like Vladimir Potanin, Alexei Mordashyov, Vagit Alekperov, Vladimir Lisin, Leonid Mikhelson, and Gennady Timchenko among others.

19. Old Moscow was segregated

In previous times Moscow’s population was categorized along with social classes, nationalities, and professions. The segregation was very profound such that the streets in Moscow are named after the people living there such as Chef Street that hosts Chefs, Butcher Street that hosts Butchers, Maroseyka Street that hosts Ukrainians, and so on. The segregation in Moscow has been the subject of research and conversations. 

20. The City of Moscow and England share an insignia

St. George on Horseback slaying the dragon- by W. Bulach- Wikimedia Commons

Winding down this top 20 facts about the City of Moscow is an interesting fact- The figure of St. George in armor on horseback slaying a dragon with his lance that appears on the City of Moscow flag also appears on England’s flag.

There are many legends that explain St. George slaying a dragon, but all of them end with the St, George as a hero.


This look at the top 20 facts about the city of Moscow reveals the wonderful surprises that await in Moscow at every turn; these facts teach about the city’s culture, rich history, and way of life.