Innermost Moscow

It isn't hard to understand Moscow geography. Like many European cities, Moscow is laid out in a series of concentric rings. The first mini-ring goes around the Kremlin. The second ring is the beautiful, tree-lined, Boulevard Ring which doubles as a park -- and a great place for a date. Next out is the badly misnamed Garden Ring which is a mammoth road filled with unruly traffic. It was supposedly usable as a runway, but I think this idea died with the jet age. Still further out still is the sparkling new granite-lined ultra-modern "Third Ring" that was still being built by the ever-busy Mayor Luzhkov at the cost of $1 billion. The final ring is the huge 100 mile long MKAD (Moscow Circular Auto Road) or Outer Ring that pretty much defines the city borders.

Also similar to most European cities, Moscow’s most famous stuff is concentrated in the center. Contrary to expectations about Russia’s exoticness, much of the city looks more like Europe than most people would guess. This is not to say it completely looks the part. Moscow sometimes feels like a place where Europe came, left some reminders and then ran away. The architecture reflects this odd duality. Moscow's center was filled with beautiful classical architecture dating back hundreds of years. But it also had huge distinct Stalin skyscrapers along with many overbearing, heavily columned but oddly elegant neoclassical buildings from the Soviet period. Anyone who's been to Washington DC will recognize the style.

Note: This is only a partial excerpt of the book, which is available on request.  I will be adding photos to this page in the near future.

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