Where is Moscow
Housing is scarce and expensive in Moscow. For many residents it is a life with many limitations and privations. Free, critical expression is still not part of their everyday life.
Traces of an eventful history
With a population of around 15 million in the metropolitan area, Moscow is the largest city in Russia, and around 150,000 new residents come every year. Moscow was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1147. In the 15th century it blossomed into the capital of the Russian Empire.
Although St. Petersburg advanced to the capital in 1712, the title returned to Moscow in 1918. In the center of the metropolis is the Kremlin. The rulers of Russia sat and sit here: tsars, communists, presidents. The different epochs have left their mark.
In 1812 the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Moscow. In the course of the occupation, a large fire destroyed large parts of the city. Moscow was rebuilt in the Russian Empire style, which is characterized by rectilinear shapes with a decorative character. From the middle of the 19th century, wealthy merchants made their mark on the city with their villas, and many Art Nouveau buildings were built later.
During the Soviet era, the dictator Josef Stalin brought the terrorist regime into Moscow. It was the time of arrests and executions. In the 1930s, Stalin wanted to shape the metropolis architecturally with his "General Plan for the Reconstruction of the City of Moscow" and thus react to the rapid growth.
The metro system was built and streets enlarged, imposing representative buildings were erected, and new buildings grew into the sky. Churches were torn down, as were other structures in old Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hardships of the 1990s, Moscow has developed into a world-class metropolis to this day.
City of superlatives
Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The city is experiencing a gigantic construction boom. Even the tallest building in Europe with the patriotic name "Rossija" (Russia) was to be built here. The laying of the foundation stone for the 648 meter high building was planned for 2012. But due to financial difficulties, the one billion euro project will no longer be completed.
Just a few kilometers from the Kremlin, an entire city within the city is being built out of the ground: Moscow City. New offices, hotels and luxury apartments are being built on a total of 2.5 million square meters. There are hardly any standards or regulations, nor is there a concept for the whole of Moscow. The downside of the boom: the impending traffic blackout and high levels of environmental pollution.
The expansion devours billions. And they slumber with the super-rich in the city. While many Russians fell into a social and financial hole after the collapse of communism, a few made a lot of money in the course of privatization. Moscow has enormous economic power, but nepotism and corruption are seen as permanent problems.
The power center Moscow attracts the rich. Here you can also dine in the "Turandot", for example. The historic-looking gourmet temple with crystal chandeliers, red marble and wall paintings is considered the restaurant with the world's most expensive interior. Here a bottle of wine can cost the equivalent of 2000 euros. True to the motto: I want to show what I have. I want to live now, who knows what tomorrow will be.
Beyond Luxury '
Most Muscovites can only dream of great luxury. Most live in high-rise buildings. Every Muscovite has an average of just twelve square meters. The square meter prices are so high that many Muscovites live very cramped with several generations.
Not only the living space, but also the free, critical expression of opinion is restricted in the Russian capital. Critical media lead a niche existence. There has been multiple criticism from the West for restrictions on freedom of the press and democracy.
According to the long-time ARD correspondent Karla Engelhard, you still have to have a lot of courage if you want to demonstrate on Moscow's streets or express criticism.
Investigative journalists take a huge risk. An example: the Moscow journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She wrote about corruption, suppressed freedom of expression and human rights violations. In October 2006, she was formally executed in front of her Moscow apartment. The murder caused consternation worldwide; Human rights activists, colleagues and politicians assumed a politically motivated murder.
Art treasures and world-famous stages
Moscow is not only the political but also the cultural center of Russia. Outstanding art treasures can be found here. Probably the most famous museums include the Pushkin Museum with Western European works and the Tretyakov Gallery, which is home to Russian art.
Among the 30 or so theaters in the city is the Bolshoy Theater with its famous opera and ballet stage. But Moscow also has treasures to offer aside from world culture: in the Chess Museum, for example, or in the Metro, Vodka or KGB Museum.
However, the art scene does not remain unmolested by politics. Overly uninhibited creatives in Moscow are threatened with a complaint, release or imprisonment. If you want to exhibit provocative art, you have to muster up some courage. One of the brave ones is Igor Markin, one of Moscow's multi-millionaires. In his private museum he shows contemporary, also controversial art.
One of his pictures comes from the artist group "Blaue Nasen". It shows two policemen in the birch forest, deep in a kiss with a tongue. The former minister of culture described the picture as "a shame for Russia".
No reason for Markin to abandon his plan. In 2007 he opened the first private museum in Russia. Most of the works of the Russian avant-garde are shown in the 600 square meter exhibition rooms.
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