Stalin used to call them the 'palaces of the people', and the Moscow Metro station truly does seem like a palace. Every ride on the Moscow Metro is a majestic journey. You will be amazed by the fancy chandeliers, the beautiful wall adornments and the marble abutments. Every station tells you a different story about Russia's history. Another exciting highlight is the escalators that take you up or down the stations. Sometimes you aren't even able to see the end, especially at the Park Podeby Station where you can find the longest escalator in the world, measuring 126 meters. Nine million people use the Moscow Metro every day. Must visit stations: Mayakovskaya/Маяковская, Prospekt Mira/Проспект Мира, Arbatskaya/Арба́тская Kievskaya/Киевская, Komsomolskaya/Комсомо́льская, Novoslobodskaya/Новослободская, Belorusskaya/Белору́сская
Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Royal Castle, perched magnificently on the stunning Wawel Hill is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and historically significant structures in Poland. It is most importantly an emblem of Polish identity. This 16th Century palace has been home to a line of Kings and Queens who kept beautifying it and has also seen troubled times in the form of vandalism and occupation by enemy troops. It was only entirely restored after the Second World War and is now an elaborate museum where one can see the splendid Halls of Deputies and Senators as a section of the State Rooms. Then there are the Royal Apartments and the Treasuries apart from other exhibitions. All of the interiors are spectacular and are brilliant examples of the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic style of architecture. There are five permanent exhibitions to be seen at the Wawel Castle and there is a different ticket for each one of them: State Rooms: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Royal Private Apartments: 25PLN from April to October and 21PLN from December to March. Crown Treasury and Armoury: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Exhibition The Lost Wawel: 10PLN from April to October and 8PLN from December to March. Exhibition Oriental Art: 8PLN from April to October and 7PLN from December to March. The State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments and Exhibition Oriental Art are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays and 10am to 5pm during the weekends. They are closed on Mondays. The Crown Treasury and Armoury and Exhibition The Lost Wawel are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays, 10am to 5pm during the weekends and 9:30 am till 1pm on Mondays. It is advisable to book your tickets by calling the reservations office in advance or you could buy them at the visitors centre. Arrive as early as you can and avoid weekends. For more information about the office, the winter timings and the updates for the month of November, visit their official website: https://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en
An hour's ride away from Bran Castle lies the town of Sinaia, and Peles Castle, considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in all of Europe. An architectural masterpiece, the castle was the former summer residence of the Romanian royals. Discover the wonderful castle, its lanes, rooms and interiors and learn all about its history.
Perhaps the most important national haven in Poland, the Wawel Cathedral has witnessed the coronation of a line of Polish monarchs and has also been the cradle of their tombs. This gothic, Roman Catholics church houses artefacts of absolute historical and cultural significance. With its silver coffins and crypts, murals and stained glass windows, the Wawel Cathedral is fascinating. The most mesmerizing of them all are the animal bones on the iron doors that are believed to have magical powers. Additionally the Sigismund Chapel on the inside is supposed to be the most beautiful Renaissance Chapel north of the Alps. For those interested, there is also a Wawel Cathedral Museum. Before exiting Wawel Hill, make sure you also visit the Dragon’s Den (a cave that is some 130 steps below) and the Thieves’ Tower for rather hackneyed tales of Wawel’s fabled dragon and brilliant views over the Vistula River. Shelling out 12PLN grants you entry into the Wawel Cathedral along with the tombs and the Sigismund Bell Tower with its 11 tonne bell. You could rent English audio guides for 7PLN if in case you are looking for a detailed tour. It is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, it opens at 9:30am. You would have to pay an additional 3PLN for the Dragon’s Den. Tickets for the Cathedral are available from opposite the main gate and for the Dragon’s Den, a coin-operated machine is located right outside the entrance of the cave.
Take a walk around the Skanderbeg SquareAt the heart of the city is the square flaunting a regal statue of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg. The expansive Ottoman forces had taken over most of Albania by 1431 and yet singlehandedly Skenderbeg sparked a revolt that snow balled into halting the Ottoman advances in the whole of Europe.
House of Blackheads
Another wonder to behold. The house of Blackheads was constructed during the 14th century by the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild of unmarried German Merchants. It has been destroyed twice before finally being reconstructed in 1999. Lavish parties and feasts were thrown here in its day, and while things are a bit quiet today, the magnificence of the place is still pretty imaginable. The architecture is mostly Gothic with a evident influence of Dutch Renaissance.
The Kadriorg Palace is set in a beautiful park where the Prime Minister's house is located. The Prime Minister is the actual political head of state, and their President is mainly a symbolic figure, who does not hold any executive power. We are pretty sure he was there as the flags were up, the red carpet was out, and guards were walking everywhere. It was a lovely walk through the park. The Palace and park were created by Tsar Peter I in the 18th century for his empress Catherine. The name, Kadriorg, means Catherine's Valley. We toured the Royal Palace, which is now an art museum.
Should Lenin finally be buried or not? That is a very common question, as Lenin's embalmed body has been on public display for almost 90 years. During the Second World War his body was brought to Siberia when it appeared that Moscow might be in danger of invasion by Nazi Germany. For a while he was even joined by Josef Stalin. The structure is built with elements of several great mausoleums like Cyrus the Great and the Step Pyramid. The mausoleum opens its gates every day from 10:00 to 13:00 excluding holidays. Try to pay Lenin a visit before he disappears for good.
Ostankino TV Tower
Holy Trinity Church in Ostankino: On the way to Ostankino Tower, we saw a beautiful church and later, we found out that it is the Trinity Church in Ostankino. It is built in the 17th century. We were simply in awe. We went in and I could not help but take a photo of the prayer room.
Lomonosov Moscow State University (MGU)
Some of the students claim that it is the tallest educational building in the world. I, at least, can say that it is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture I have ever seen. The main tower is 240 meters tall and was the tallest building in Europe until 1990. It is situated near the Moscow Olympic Stadium and is one of the most tremendous sights of the Russian capital. The complex is so big that some people say it would take you 18 years to visit every room!
Kumu Art Museum
We also toured the Kumu Art Museum. It was very modern structure and had some interesting exhibits of Estonian art from the 18th century on. On our walk back to the hotel we went through a neighborhood and found the houses to be quite charming and very colorful. Not what we were expecting in an ex-soviet country.
Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral
Work actually started in 1902 even though it was supposed to start in 1857 (my sister has a ‘Time Theory’, which talks about how the same time can mean such different things to different people. So while in 1857 Bishop Andrei Saguna was taking the initiative to construct this church, my people were furiously fighting for our country’s freedom with the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857!!)