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State Historical Museum, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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The State Historical Museum, standing majestically at the western end of Red Square, is housed in a magnificent dark redbrick building covered in ornate turrets, pinnacles and decorative saw-tooth cornices. The museum was built between 1875 and 1881 by the architect V. Sherwood and the museum was finally opened in 1894 by Tsar Alexander III. The building's interior is lavishly decorated and features murals, carvings and an impressive ceiling painting depicting a family tree of all the Russian monarchs from Vladimir and Olga of Kiev to Alexander III.

The museum charts the development of Russian civilization, from its ancient tribal beginnings to the formation of Kievan Rus, through a fascinating series of archeological exhibitions. The museum's exhibition rooms lead the visitor through the history of Russia from its earliest Neanderthal beginnings. Of particular note are a 5000-year-old longboat, which was excavated next to the Volga River, Scythian equestrian decorations dating from the 1st millennium BC and numerous artifacts from the various nomadic tribes that wandered the Russian steppe and traded with the civilized world of Rome via the Black Sea.

The displays trace the development of the Finno-Ugrian, Mordovian, Khasar and Slavic peoples and their final uniting under the banner of Kievan Rus, in the 9th century AD. Room 7 details the state's conversion to Christianity by Prince Vladimir in 988 and the museum's final hall is dedicated to "Relics of the Russian State", and features a fantastic array of portraits of the Romanov Tsars, various thrones and many authentic uniforms. The museum was closed and underwent a massive restoration program between 1986 and 1997, but today most of the interiors have been restored and visitors are free to wander round the majority of the rooms in the building. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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