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Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) with British Airways BA 235 departing London Heathrow at 10.55 hrs arriving in Moscow Sheremetyevo at 16.50 hrs. On arrival, transfer to the National Hotel for four nights. The hotel is located on the famous Tverskaya Street in the city centre. Optional tour of the Battle of Borodino Panorama and Field Marshal Kutuzov’s House. Field Marshal Kutuzov was in command of the armies defending the capital in 1812 and after the most bloody and indecisive of all Napoleonic battles, the Russian forces retreated, and Moscow was abandoned to the French. Return to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel.
Your tour of Moscow begins with a short walk to the station where you go by Metro to the State Tretyakov Gallery. Moscow’s metro stations are the ‘Palaces of the People’ built on the orders of Stalin during the 1930s and are extraordinarily lavish with mosaics, chandeliers and sculptures. The State Tretyakov Gallery holds all of Russia’s major and most important Russian works of art – appropriated by the State after the Revolution. The roots of Russian art derive entirely from Byzantium after Russia adopted Christianity in the 10th century and the museum holds the finest collection of Russian icons worldwide. Portraiture follows rather naturally after icon-painting. See 19th and 20th century arresting portraits by Kramskoi, Petrov, Repin and, above all, Serov. Also, wonderful landscapes by Shishkin, Polenov, Surikov and Levitan. See the internationally known artists such as Chagall, Malevich and Kandinsky.
Lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon drive past the Novodevichy Convent, built originally in the 16th century, with massive white encircling walls and blue and gold onion domes. Considered Moscow’s finest baroque architecture, it was the most important convent in Russia and fortunately escaped the Napoleonic Invasion in 1812. Continue to Leo Tolstoy’s town home, which has remained intact since the world-famous Russian novelist died in 1910. Return to the hotel. Dinner under own arrangements.
This morning take a fast train to Tula and continue on to Yasnaya Polyana (translated as Clear Glades) to see Leo Tolstoy’s country home, Russia’s No. 1 Historic House. See the picturesque estate unchanged since the large family lived there. Remarkably, despite WW2, all the furnishings and contents remain intact and are reverently preserved. Tour the estate and visit Leo Tolstoy’s modest grave. Time permitting see the local market in Tula.
Lunch at the museum’s restaurant. This afternoon drive to the 16th century fortress, the Tula Kremlin – a former famous arms factory and silver workshop but now an art gallery and folk museum. Within the Kremlin walls see both the 18th and 19th century cathedrals. Return to the hotel by fast train to Moscow. Dinner under own arrangements.
This morning there is a city tour by coach which will include the main architectural sights such as Kutuzov Avenue, Tversaya Street, the Kremlin Embankment and the Cathedral of Jesus Christ the Saviour (inside) built in just five years to mark the millennium. This immense cathedral was built on the same site as the original church destroyed by Stalin in 1931 during the soviet atheist years. The site would have been the colossal ‘Palace of the Soviets’ but Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 so all construction ceased.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art renowned for its collection of French paintings, especially the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist schools mostly acquired after the Russian Revolution in 1917, when the Soviet government nationalised all private collections. See works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin Matisse, Picasso. Early 19th century French works include works by Corot, Delacroix, Rubens, Rembrandt, Murillo and van Dyck. Also see the remarkable Fayum ‘mummy’ portraits (1 – 4th century AD). Time permitting see the Treasures of Priam – a cache of Troy gold and other artefacts dating from 2450 BC discovered by the German multi-millionaire and archaeologist H. Schliemann in the late 1870s in modern Turkey. With other war booty at this time, these incredible treasures were plundered by the Soviets in Berlin in 1945 and have been on permanent display in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art only since 1993. Return to the hotel. Optional dinner at Pushkin Café.
Walk to Red Square, built in the 15th century, originally meaning ‘Beautiful Square’. See St Basil’s Cathedral, built in the late 16th century (exterior only) and Lenin’s Mausoleum. Along the walled cemetery the remains of leading Soviet politicians including Stalin, Brezhnev, and Andropov are buried. From the balcony of the Mausoleum Soviet leaders watched the great military parades. See GUM, the State Department Store during the Soviet era. Walk to the Kremlin itself, built as a fortress in the early 16th century – the historic heart of the capital. Tour the Kremlin territory, both the seat of Government as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Armoury Museum, exhibiting splendid Russian State Regalia, carriages, porcelain, jewellery, works by Fabergé and an unrivalled collection of 16th – 17th century British silver. Optional and time permitting, visit the spectacular Diamond Treasury displaying Imperial Russia’s precious stones and coronation jewels.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to the airport for a return flight to London Heathrow. Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways BA 234 departing Moscow Sheremetyevo at 18.10 hrs arriving in London Heathrow at 20.20 hrs.
NB: During your stay there will be an opportunity to attend an opera or ballet performance at the famous Bolshoi Theatre. Further details of performances will only be available about 6 weeks prior to performance.
Thank you for making it everything we had hoped it would be. The holiday of a lifetime.- JD, India