The Red Square is situated in Moscow, Russia, and it is “flanked” by the Kremlin, on one side, and the Kitai-gorod, a historical trade center, on the other side. Due to the fact that the most important streets and arteries derive from this square, it has led people to the accurate conclusion that the Red Square is the central point of Russia’s capital city, but also of the entire state.
The name of the square might be erroneously attached either to the color of the bricks which were used in constructing the square, or to the symbolical color of communism (‘red’). But in reality, the name of the square derives from the Russian word ‘krasnaya’ which has two meanings: ‘red’, on the one hand, and ‘beautiful’, on the other. However, this latter meaning is almost outdated.
The name was initially used in reference to Saint Basil’s Cathedral, but it was later on reassigned to the square located in close proximity of the aforementioned cathedral. The original name given to the square was Pozhar, which stands for ‘burnt-out place,’ but this is considered to have been changed to ‘Red Square’ sometimes in the 1800s.
There are many events which revolve around this piazza and because of this the square is included in a multitude of paintings, some signed by Konstantin Yuon, Vasily Surikov, etc. Just to name a few, the Red Square was the place where coronation ceremonies of the Tsars of Russia were officiated, and were public announcements and different types of formalities took place (official ceremonies).
The Red Square had always played an important part in the history of Russia. During the communist age, the square was intensely used for military processions. An edifice that is reminiscent of the communist regime is the Mausoleum of Lenin, where the earthly remains of the former Soviet ruler rest in peace. Lenin’s body has been embalmed so tourists can actually gaze on the ruthless leader almost as he appeared before people in his lifetime. The mausoleum is part of the Red Square and it is a must-see location.
The 1930s were extremely relevant in the history of the square. Two important edifices were demolished (Kazan Cathedral and Iverskaya Chapel) with the purpose of enlarging the square so as to make it fit for imposing parades, but also to permit large military vehicles to traverse it. The good news is that the two buildings which were demolished had been reconstructed after the Soviet Union fell.
For the same purpose, Saint Basil’s Cathedral was about to witness the same fate. There is a legend according to which the person in charge of this project of expending the square, Lazar Kaganovich, brought the plan to Stalin in order to get his approval. But when Stalin saw the piazza without the cathedral, he said the now well-known quote: ‘Lazar! Put it back!’, as if he could not envisage the Red Square without that construction.
The Red Square has been recognized for the great historical value it carries so it has been inscribed in the list of world heritages. Today, the square is a preserved monument, under the UNESCO National Cultural Heritage Law.