Moscow's Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory)
Sparrow Hills, or Vorobyovy Gory, is a place that can give you excellent outlook of Moscow. No, you won't see the entire city of course - it's just too big. However, if you're looking for a good view on our capital - it's hard to find another such spot. Well, maybe except Ostankino TV tower.
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In fact, there's even a special observation platform built on Sparrow Hills, so I'm not the only one thinking the view from there is great. And, although I don't think it's a number one place you should visit, Vorobyovy Gory can definitely help you take a few good shots of Moscow especially on a sunny, pleasant day.
By the way, going there on a sunny day is a must. To be honest, I don't think it's a good idea visiting the place when it's cold and cloudy. First of all, you'll freeze because of all the winds blowing there - Vorobyovy Gory are 80 meters above the city level. Second, you won't get nice shots if the weather is stormy. At best, your pictures will look grey and dull. Look in the Internet - it's full of such colorless photos.
However, if the weather is nice or if you've decided to visit Sparrow Hills no matter what - let me tell you what you will be able to see.
You can also see "Moscow City" business center from the hills
As I said, you won't see the entire Moscow since it covers more than 1,000 square kilometers. Plus, recently there were plans to expand the city even further, so in order to see our entire capital you will probably have to order a suborbital flight.
However, what you will be able to see is very well worth it. First of all, it's a good view on Moskva River. See how it flows slowly through our city, kind of separating it in two? These days, Moskva River is rather a cesspit, but centuries ago it allowed the first Muscovites to settle along its curvy banks, giving them food and water they needed.
I wonder if they had the time to gaze at the sights from Sparrow Hills like their lazy successors do....
Second, you'll get a great view on Luzhniki stadium. This place is quite famous - it's enough to say that the stadium hosted 1980 Summer Olympics, especially the closing ceremony with the famous flight of Misha the Olympic Bear.
Since then, the stadium was the top choice for all kinds of events. For example, it hosted the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final won by Manchester United. The stadium is also supposed to host the coming 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is probably going to be a very interesting experience for every Muscovite. I'm not a football fan, but I already prepare myself for huge traffic jams and large crowds. Well, we'll see.
However, the stadium doesn't only host sports events. In August 2010, the U2 band has chosen it to give their first performance in Russia ever during their famous 360° Tour. Before that, in 2006, Madonna has also made her first performance in Russia, and guess where she chose to do it.
The good old Luzhniki Stadium
Luzhniki stadium has also been used to host countless other events, so it's got quite a lot to put in its resume. Plus, don't forget it's still standing, meaning it will probably still surprise us in the future. Who knows? Maybe Lady Gaga would love to appear there as well.
However, even if you put aside Luzhniki's fine history, it's still a one frakkin' big stadium. It also looks great from Sparrow Hills, so there's no reason why it can't make it to your photo album. Just watch its marvelous lighting - isn't that something? I think the designers have made their homework, because modern Luzhniki stadium fits into its environment perfectly.
If you look to the left from Luzhniki (and a little bit further), you will see a white cathedral with a golden dome on top of it. This is the famous Smolensky Sobor (Smolensky Cathedral), a part of the famous and beautiful Novodevichy Convent.
That place, sometimes known as New Maidens' Monastery, is something you'll definitely have to visit if you want to learn more about Moscow. Built hundreds of years ago (in 16th century to be precise), it served among the rest as a prison for unlucky wives of nobility. Basically, if a Tsar suddenly started thinking his wife wanted to overthrow him, he would quickly send her to the Novodevichy Convent where she would spend the rest of her life in prayers and harsh discipline.
The white cathedral belongs to Novodevichy Convent
I believe such tradition also existed in medieval Europe, where Christian monasteries also served as a place of isolation for someone you couldn't just execute. By the way, during the years, Novodevichy has made an entire fortune out of the jewelry of the rich ladies who lived and died there. The women naturally couldn't wear any of their finery inside, so they were required to turn over all that expensive stuff to the "administration". Since there was no way they would ever make it out, the convent took possession of their belongings. Good business to say the least!
However, Novodevichy Convent didn't only serve as a prison. It was also a part of the larger "defensive array" of monasteries that guarded Moscow borders against invasion, so it's only natural that Russian government let them have some fun with their inmates' belongings.
However, those dark times are way behind us. There's no coming war, and no one gets sent to the monastery against their will. These days, Novodevichy is one of the tourist spots, and as I said - I strongly urge you to visit it. After all, there are not that many places in Moscow that survived all the calamities of recent Russian history and kept their original looks.
So there you have it - Moskva River, Luzhniki and Novodevichy, all seen perfectly from Sparrow Hills. As I said in the beginning - if the weather is nice, grab that camera, get to Vorobyovy Gory, and make a few shots that will look great anywhere. I suggest you put them as desktop background so that you'll recall your wonderful trip every time you fire up your PC.
...and if you also put Moscow Russia Insider's Guide.Com as your browser's start-up page, I'll give you a free cookie
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