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Friday, September 4, 2015

Red Square, Moscow, Russia

Red Square is so spectacularly beautiful it will take your breath away.  It's elegance is not diminished by it's proximity to the Kremlin, which is stunning as well.  Today it stands tall and holds it's own.  It had a humble beginning.  Red Square began life as a slum, a shanty town of wooden huts clustered beneath the Kremlin walls that housed a collection of peddlers, criminals and drunks whose status left them outside the official boundaries of the medieval city. It was cleared on the orders of Ivan III at the end of the 1400's, but remained the province of the mob, the site of public executions, and rabble rousing, until much later. 
The square's name has nothing to do with communism or with the color of many of its buildings. In fact it derives from the word 'krasnyi', which once meant 'beautiful', and has only come to mean 'red' in contemporary Russian. The name became official in the middle of the 17th century - previously it had been Trinity Square, due to the Trinity Cathedral, the predecessor of St. Basil's. Popularly, it was also known as 'Fire Square', reflecting the number of times medieval Moscow burned.  The Russians use of wood for building left it vulnerable to burning, something that the Tartars took great advantage of, but the change to brick did help. 

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