The first settlers lived in the area around the Kremlin as early as the 11th century. In 1147, Yuri Dolgoruki, the Prince of Suzdal, is said to have founded Moscow. Ninety years later, the Tartars burnt down the wooden fortress on the Moskva for the first time, and its inhabitants remained tributary to the Tartars until Grand Duke Ivan III, the grandfather of the better-known Ivan the Terrible, came to power and drove the invaders back to the East. In 1571, however, the Crimean Tatars set fire to Moscow again on one of their raids. But no matter how many times Moscow was threatened, besieged and destroyed, the city was always rebuilt.
When the Tsar Peter the Great moved the Russian capital to the newly founded St. Petersburg in 1712, Moscow lost a good chunk of its influence. However, it remained important enough to be Napoleon's main target on his Russian campaign in 1812. Shortly after the French arrived, a great fire destroyed most of the city. After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks moved Russia's capital back to Moscow, from where the vast Soviet Empire was ruled.
Today, Moscow is the political and economic centre of Russia. With around 13 million inhabitants, it is the largest city in Europe. Moscow is the melting pot of a multi-ethnic country and a highly interesting mixture of Europe and Asia. During the 2000s, skyscrapers shot out of the ground and the inner city was vastly renovated. But there is also another Moscow, away from the Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring) and the Kremlin: cosy cafés, narrow alleys, hidden artists' studios and elegant parks are as much a part of the cityscape as the gigantic wedding-cake buildings of the Stalin era and the expensive fashion boutiques. There is always something going on in Moscow. The club scene has developed rapidly in recent years and made Moscow one of the party capitals of Europe. This city is in no way inferior to other metropolises when it comes to bars, pubs and elegant restaurants. Going out in Moscow is fun!
A tsar's castle, the administrative centre of the Soviet Union and now the official residence of the Russian president, for centuries the Kremlin symbolised Russia's power. Built as a fortress in the 12th century, the Kremlin is now a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The Red Square was once the site of executions of famous rebels, such as the Cossack leader Stepan Razin. The name Red Square does not derive from the colour of the brick walls surrounding it, nor from the association of the colour red with communism. Rather, this name derives from the Russian word красная (krasnaya), which means both "red" and "beautiful".