This megalopolis of ten million people is a vibrant city that has undergone a radical transformation over the last 25 years. The democratisation enabled by Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika has seen increasing numbers of Westerners head to Moscow. Businessmen and tourists alike have left their mark on the city. But Moscow is still home to the Kremlin, the medieval citadel on the river Moskva, where famous palaces and cathedrals stand within high walls. This centre of Russian politics was a symbol of power and, during the Cold War, the main target of spies.
Outside the Kremlin walls extends Moscow's most famous open space, the impressive Red Square, which in Soviet times was the venue for enormous military parades and since 1991 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Moscow also has the famous St Basil's Cathedral, built in 1550 by Ivan the Terrible, who is said to have had the builders blinded so that they would be unable to build anything more beautiful. The city boasts a lively club scene, numerous theatres and opera and ballet houses, and remarkable circuses. It is also the birthplace of the great Alexander Pushkin and many other prominent figures.
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