The history of the Russian Federation is brief, dating back only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Since gaining its independence, Russia was recognized as the legal successor to the Soviet Union on the international stage. However, Russia has lost its superpower status as it faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy with elements of market capitalism, with often painful results.Even today Russia shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.
Russia, the land of great historical forts and mausoleums, is also home to some of the world class architectures and cultural centers. The varied historical places of Russia are laced with interesting stories, mysteries and facts which still today draw hundreds of tourists coming from the far flung places of Africa and Australia.
The Kremlin is the historical, spiritual and political heart of Moscow and the city's most famous landmark and tourist attraction. It's an intriguing ensemble of buildings with an architectural variety that reveals a long and fascinating history. The Kremlin stands at the confluence of the Moscow and Neglinaya Rivers on Borovitsky Hill, named after the pine forests (bor in Russian) that used to cover it.
Legend has it that while hunting in the forest a group of boyars (Russian nobles) saw an enormous two-headed bird swoop down on a boar, carry it away and deposit it on the top of what was to become Borovitsky Hill. That night the boyars dreamt of a city of tents, spires and golden domes and resolved the next morning to build a settlement on the hill.
Moscow's famous Red Square earned its name not from the red walls of the Kremlin, nor from the traditional symbol of Communism, but from the Russian word for "red", which many centuries ago also meant "beautiful". The square's vast cobbled expanse is flanked by some of Moscow's most famous tourist attractions.
Along one side stands the eastern wall of the Kremlin, on the next - the brightly-colored spiraling onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, to the north - the elegant turn of the century arcades of the GUM department store (mall) and Kazan Cathedral and to the west - Russia's imposing National Historical Museum and the 1990s replica of the Resurrection Gate.
The square first came into being at the end of the 15th century during the reign of Ivan III. It was initially called Trinity Square after the Trinity Cathedral, which stood on the site of the later St. Basil's Cathedral. The name by which we all know the square today originated much later, possibly as late as the 17th century.
The original Resurrection Gate, situated in the northwest corner of the square, was built during the 16th century but was torn down in 1931 on Stalin's orders, to ease tank access to the parades on Red Square and as part of the regime's atheistic offensive against the Orthodox Church and all its trappings of worship. The current gate, with the small Iverskaya (or Iberian) Chapel positioned just in front of it, is a replica built in the 1990s to the design of Oleg Zhurin. The original chapel was one of the holiest places in Moscow and contained the Icon of the Mother of God of Iver, a legendary miracle-working icon that was said to have originated in Byzantium at the time of the iconoclasts in the 8th century.
One of the aspects of the historical places of Russia is its grand landmarks embellished in a most elegant way. Situated 3 kilometers, towards south of Kolomenskoe, when Irina, the wife of Tsar Fyodor, owned a lavish estate there. Later on, it was transferred to Peter the Great, Prince Dimitrie Cantemir and finally in the hands of Catherine, the Great in 1775. The estate has an impressive collection of antique tapestries, glassware and paintings procured from different countries of Central Asia.