This morning your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel for your visit to the vast Tretyakov Gallery. The Tretyakov is located in one of Moscow’s most interesting neighborhoods. This area, called Zamoskvoreche (“beyond the Moscow River”) was originally settled in the 13th century. The small winding streets give this area an almost old-fashioned atmosphere, with historic churches and the mansions of 19th century wealthy merchants. The Tretyakov Gallery is situated in the former home of Pavel Tretyakov. Your guide will take you through the museum, which houses only Russian artists, from Andrei Rublev’s icons to famous 20th Century Russian painters. Here you can see a timeline progression of Russian icons starting from the 16th century through to the 20th century. Each century of icons is arranged in separate halls to convey a clear insight into the development of Russian Icon painting.
After your tour of the gallery, visit the adjoining private chapel of the Tretyakov family, the Church of St. Nicholas. This small, intimate chapel is where the entire family of the wealthy Russian merchants and art collectors would attend private services. Here, you will have the chance to see Russia’s most venerated icon, The Theotokos of Vladimir. This icon was a gift of the patriarch of Constantinople to the Grand Prince of Russia in 1132. Next you will visit the grand Christ the Holy Redeemer Cathedral, which towers over historic Moscow. The cathedral was demolished under Stalin’s reign for a planned Lenin skyscraper, but eventually became an enormous outdoor swimming pool after construction failed repeatedly. After the fall of Communism, it was decided to reconstruct the cathedral and so Christ the Holy Redeemer was completely rebuilt by Mayor Luzhkov of Moscow in 2001, at a budget of over 350 million dollars! It is a beautiful cathedral and it now stands as it did at the turn of the 20th Century. Of particular note are the stunning frescoes that fill the interiors.
After touring the cathedral, a very special guide from the cathedral will join you for a private visit to the dome of the church. After ascending to the top via elevator, you will have the opportunity to view the city of Moscow at 360 degrees, from all four sides of the dome. Standing at 300 feet above the city, the dome provides a fantastic view of the city’s most significant sites including the Kremlin, St. Basil’s, Pushkin Museum, and the Moskva River. Turn a corner and you are awarded with views of several of the Seven Sisters buildings. You may even witness the ringing of the bells in the bell towers just above your head! It’s the ultimate Moscow city tour from the top of the highest peak of central Moscow.
Later you will visit Novodevichy Convent’s fascinating cemetery, located adjacent to the convent. It houses the graves of many famous Russians, from cultural figures to political and military dignitaries. Each tombstone is wrought with symbolism and makes for a very interesting and worthwhile visit. You will also be invited backstage for an exclusive and rare tour of the Historic Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre that has just recently been reopened in October 2011 after 6 years of renovations.