The Red Square, or the Main Square of Russia

The Red Square

Familiarizing yourself with the cultural heritage, sights of the country of the target language is an important element of learning. In this way you not only familiarize yourself with certain vocabulary and grammatical structures, but also understand how mentality and worldview influence the Russian language. One of Russia’s most iconic landmarks is its main square, the Red Square.

  • Why is the square red?


The square, which is now considered the main square of the country, appeared around the end of the XV century. Then Ivan III during the construction of new fortress walls forbade to build up the territory on the eastern side, and a free square appeared there. It was not yet called Red Square.

There are several versions of why the square is called “red”. The most widespread one, of course, is connected with the homonym “beautiful”. But historians have other assumptions as well.

  1. For most of the XVI-XVII centuries the square was used for trade. It was popular for its red fabrics, for which the square got its name.
  2. Previously, Red Square was located in a slightly different place, inside the Kremlin, and it was accessed by the Red Porch, to which the Red Stairs led and under which were the Red Gates. Accordingly, the square became known as Red Square


In Russian, the word “red” used to mean “the most important”, “the main”.

Under Peter the Great, the wooden churches on the square were broken down and the square itself was cleared to protect buildings from fires. In the late XVIII – early XIX centuries the transformation of the square continued. The wooden buildings were removed, the square was paved with cobblestones, trading shops were demolished, the moat was filled in, and trading rows connected the square with Kitay-Gorod. The trade function was lost, and the square was used for public festivities and ceremonial events.

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Mausoleum and other attractions

The Red Square

In the 20th century, Red Square underwent a few more changes and got the finished look – the one you see today.  In 1918, parades began to be held here. And in order for the vehicles to pass through safely, the Resurrection Gate and the Kazan Cathedral had to be demolished. Till 1930 streetcars ran along the square, and since 1963 the movement of automobile transport is also prohibited.

Nowadays Red Square is a popular tourist spot, a pedestrian zone paved with cobblestones, you can get here even at night. The square is under UNESCO protection.

Red Square is not the largest in the world and even in Russia, but for tourists it is interesting both from an architectural point of view and thanks to various attractions.

  • Храм Василия Блаженного / St. Basil’s Cathedral.
  • Мавзолей Ленина / Lenin’s Mausoleum.
  • Башни Кремля: Спасская, Сенатская и Никольская / Towers of the Kremlin: Spasskaya, Senate and Nikolskaya.
  • Памятник Минину и Пожарскому / Monument to Minin and Pozharsky.
  • Собор Казанской иконы Божией Матери / Cathedral of our lady of Kazan.
  • Воскресенские ворота / Resurrection Gate (Voskresenskiye Vorota).
  • Государственный исторический музей / State Historical Museum.


Red Square is 330 meters long and 75 meters wide. So you can safely plan to visit all its sights in one day.

Red Square today

In 2000, at the turn of the century, a free skating rink was organized on Red Square, but it was not popular. And in 2006, a commercial skating rink appeared on this place, where you can still go skating for free at certain times. The rink can accommodate 450 people at a time and is open from December to March.

Since 1993, professional photography and videography are not allowed on the square (amateur photography is allowed). And since 2001 it is not allowed to ride bicycles on the Red Square – all for the convenience of tourists and preservation of architectural appearance.

Want to learn more about the sights of Russia, learn Russian with immersion in the culture? Sign up for Russian as a foreign language courses “Leader” and you will discover a lot of new things.

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