Red Square Facts

Red Square Facts
Red Square is the name of the world famous square in central Moscow, Russia that separates St. Basil's Cathedral from the Kremlin and the Kitai-gorod. Although most non-Russians can't specifically locate Red Square on a map, many people are familiar with its images of Cold War Soviet soldiers marching through the square. Red Square served as a sort of propaganda forum for the Red Army during the Cold War, where missiles, tanks, and infantry soldiers would march in front of dictators such as Joseph Stalin giving an approving smile. Although Red Square is best known for its modern history, construction on its buildings in stone first began during the reign of Tsar Ivan III (ruled 1462-1505).
Interesting Red Square Facts:
After Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Ivan III wanted to make Moscow the "third Rome." Building the Kremlin in stone was part of his plan.
Many believe that Red Square got its name during the twentieth century, as red is the color of communism. Actually, the term is commonly used in Russian cities for the central square and means "beautiful."
The square was known as the "market" until the seventeenth century because it was the location of Moscow's major market.
The Mongols sacked Red Square during a raid in 1571, which was during the reign of Ivan IV, "the Terrible" (ruled 1547-1575)
St. Basil's Cathedral was built from 1555 to 1561. It is actually a collection of ten separate churches. Although many structures in Moscow were designed by Western architects, St. Basil's Cathedral was the idea of two Russian architects, Ivan Barma and Postnik Yakovlev.
During communism, St. Basil's Cathedral was converted into a museum, which is what it is still today.
Communist Russia's first leader, Vladimir Lenin, was interred in a tomb in Red Square in 1924. Joseph Stalin was also interred in the tomb from 1953 to 1961. Lenin's body is still in the tomb and is seen by millions of visitors yearly.
German teenager Mathias Rust famously landed a small airplane in Red Square in 1987. He served two months in a Soviet prison and then was released and deported as part of the peace negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In more recent years, Red Square has hosted a number of rock concerts, including Paul McCartney.
Red Square became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
Most of the big military parades during the Communist Era took place on May Day (May 1), Victory Day (May 9), and on November 7 to celebrate the Bolshevik Revolution. Although the frequency of parades had diminished significantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Victory Day parades are still held in Red Square.
The Kremlin served as the royal palace for the tsars and under communism it became the presidential headquarters, much like the Whitehouse. Since communism, the Kremlin still serves as Russia's executive headquarters.

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