Moscow – Russia, Europe
Moscow (Russian: Москва́, tr. Moskva) is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent. Moscow is the northernmost city on Earth to have a population above 10,000,000, the most populous city on the continent of Europe, and the sixth largest city proper in the world. Its population, according to the preliminary results of the 2010 census, is 11,514,330. Based on Forbes 2011, Moscow had 79 billionaires, displacing New York as the city with the greatest number of billionaires.
Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Soviet Union. Moscow is the site of the Moscow Kremlin, an ancient fortress that is today the residence of the Russian President and of the executive branch of the Government of Russia. The Kremlin is also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in Moscow.
The city is served by an extensive transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railroad terminals, and the Moscow Metro, second only to Tokyo in terms of ridership and recognised as one of the city’s landmarks due to the rich and varied architecture of its 182 stations.
Over time, Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome (Третий Рим), Whitestone (Белокаменная), The First Throne (Первопрестольная), The Forty Forties (Сорок Сороков).In old Russian the word “Сорок” (forty) also meant a church administrative district, which consisted of about forty churches.The demonym for a Moscow resident is Moskvitch, rendered in English as Muscovite.
The city is named after the river (old Russian: гра́д Моско́в, literally “the city by the Moskva River”). The first reference to Moscow dates from 1147 when Yuri Dolgorukiy called upon the prince of the Novgorod-Severski to “come to me, brother, to Moscow”.
Nine years later, in 1156, Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy of Rostov ordered the construction of a wooden wall, the Kremlin, which had to be rebuilt multiple times, to surround the emerging city. After the sacking of 1237–1238, when the Mongols burned the city to the ground and killed its inhabitants, Moscow recovered and became the capital of the independent Vladimir-Suzdal principality in 1327. Its favorable position on the headwaters of the Volga River contributed to steady expansion. Moscow developed into a stable and prosperous principality, known as Grand Duchy of Moscow, for many years and attracted a large number of refugees from across Russia.
Under Ivan I of Moscow the city replaced Tver as a political center of Vladimir-Suzdal and became the sole collector of taxes for the Mongol-Tatar rulers. By paying high tribute, Ivan won an important concession from the Khan. Unlike other principalities, Moscow was not divided among his sons but was passed intact to his eldest. Moscow’s opposition against foreign domination grew. In 1380, prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to an important victory over the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo. The battle, however, was not decisive and only two years later Moscow was sacked by khan Tokhtamysh. Ivan III, in 1480, finally broke the Russians free from Tatar control, allowing Moscow to become the center of power in Russia. Under Ivan III the city became the capital of an empire that would eventually encompass all of present-day Russia and other lands.
Moscow is situated on the banks of the Moskva River, which flows for just over 500 km through the East European Plain in central Russia. 49 bridges span the river and its canals within the city’s limits. Elevation of Moscow at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre (VVC), where the head Moscow weather station is situated, is 156 m (512 ft). The highest point is Teplostanskaya highland at 255 m (837 ft). The width of Moscow city (not limiting MKAD) from west to east is 39.7 km (24.7 mi), and the length from north to south is 51.7 km (32.1 mi).
Moscow’s road system is centered roughly around the Kremlin at the heart of the city. From there, roads generally radiate outwards to intersect with a sequence of circular roads (“rings”).
The first and innermost major ring, Bulvarnoye Koltso (Boulevard Ring), was built at the former location of the 16th century city wall around that used to be called Bely Gorod (White Town). The Bulvarnoye Koltso is technically not a ring; it does not form a complete circle, but instead a horseshoe-like arc that goes from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to the Yauza River. In addition, the Boulevard Ring changes street names numerous times throughout its journey across the city.
The second primary ring, located outside the bell end Boulevard Ring, is the Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring). Like the Boulevard Ring, the Garden Ring follows the path of a 16th century wall that used to encompass part of the city. The third ring, the Third Transport Ring, was completed in 2003 as a high-speed freeway.
The Fourth Transport Ring, another freeway, is under construction to further reduce traffic congestion. The outermost ring within Moscow is the Moscow Automobile Ring Road (often called the MKAD from the Russian Московская Кольцевая Автомобильная Дорога), which forms the approximate boundary of the city. Outside the city, some of the roads encompassing the city continue to follow this circular pattern seen inside city limits.
Moscow has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with warm, somewhat humid summers and long, cold winters. Typical high temperatures in the warm months of June, July and August are around 23 °C (73 °F), but during heat waves (which can occur between May and September), daytime high temperatures often top 30 °C (86 °F)—sometimes for a week or a two at a time. In the winter, temperatures normally drop to approximately −10 °C (14 °F), though there can be periods of warmth with temperatures rising above 0 °C (32 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded was 38.2 °C (100.8 °F) at the VVC weather station and 39.0 °C (102.2 °F) in the center of Moscow and Domodedovo airport on 29 July 2010 during the unusual 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat wave. At the new averages 1981–2010 mean temperature of July is 19.2 °C (66.6 °F). The lowest ever recorded was −42.2 °C (−44.0 °F) in January 1940. Snow cover (present for 3–5 months a year) typically begins at the end of November and melts by mid-March.
Monthly rainfall totals vary minimally throughout the year, although the precipitation levels tend to be higher during the summer than during the winter. Due to the significant variation in temperature between the winter and summer months as well as the limited fluctuation in precipitation levels during the summer, Moscow is considered to be within a continental climate zone.
The average annual temperature in Moscow is 5.8 °C (42.4 °F) (1981–2010), but for the last two years (2007–2008) the annual temperature has averaged above 7 °C (45 °F). In contrast, during the first half of the 20th century, Moscow experienced light frost during the late summer months. Christianity is the predominant religion in the city, of which the Russian Orthodox Church is the most popular. Moscow is Russia’s capital of Orthodox Christianity, which has been the country’s traditional religion and was deemed a part of Russia’s “historical heritage” in a law passed in 1997. Other religions practiced in Moscow include Islam, Protestantism, Old-believers, Single-believers and Judaism. The Patriarch of Moscow serves as the head of the church and resides in the Danilov Monastery. Moscow was called the “city of 1600 churches”—”город сорока сороков церквей”—prior to 1917. In 1918 Russia became a secular state and religion lost its position in society. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 many of the destroyed churches have been restored and traditional religions are gaining popularity.
While Muslim population is estimated at 1.2–1.5 million (out of a total of 10.5 million), there were only four mosques in the city as of 2010. Though one additional mosque has been approved in the southeast, anti-mosque activists have blocked construction. Some nationalists have called for a “clean” Moscow, without Muslims and foreigners.
There are five primary commercial airports serving Moscow: Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport, Bykovo Airport, Ostafyevo International Airport and Vnukovo International Airport. Sheremetyevo International Airport is the most common entry point for foreign passengers, handling sixty percent of all international flights. Domodedovo International Airport is the leading airport in Russia in terms of passenger throughput, and is the primary gateway to long-haul domestic and CIS destinations and its international traffic rivals Sheremetyevo’s. The three other airports particularly offer flights within Russia and to and from states from the former Soviet Union. Moscow’s airports vary in distances from MKAD beltway: Bykovo is the farthest, at 35 kilometres (21 mi); Domodedovo is next at 22 kilometres (13.7 mi); Vnukovo is 11 kilometres (6.8 mi); Sheremetyevo is 10 kilometres (6.25 mi); and Ostafievo, the nearest, is about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from MKAD.
There are also several smaller airports near Moscow, such as Myachkovo Airport, intended for private aircraft, helicopters and charters.