From origin to bloom
Moscow was first mentioned in a chronicle dating back to 1147. The city was founded by Yury Dolgoruky, Prince of Suzdal and Grand Prince of Kiev, on the banks of the Moskva River.
Alexander Nevsky founded the Moscow princedom in the first half of the 13th century when he gave the town over to his son Daniil, who began the tradition of naming the eldest sons of Moscow princes Yury. Ivan III put Saint George, the patron saint of Yury Dolgoruky, on Moscow’s coat of arms.
Moscow became the capital of the Russian state under Ivan III, who ruled from 1462 until 1505 and worked tirelessly to turn Moscow into the Third Rome, after the fall of Constantinople.
In 1547, Moscow’s Prince Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) was crowned as Russia’s first tsar in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
Crown crisis and new reigning dynasty
The early 17th century in Russia was known as the Time of Troubles, which began after the death of Tsar Boris Godunov. Polish and Lithuanian forces captured Moscow, but a people’s volunteer corps led by the merchant Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky liberated the city in October 1612. To mark this event, a monument to the liberators of Moscow, Minin and Pozharsky, was erected in Red Square in 1818.
Moscow was the scene of another seminal event in Russian history in 1614, when the Zemsky Sobor, the country’s first parliamentary assembly, elected the 16-year old boyar Mikhail Romanov as tsar. The Romanovs ruled Russia for the next 300 years, until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
In 1712, Peter the Great relocated the Russian capital to newly-built St Petersburg, but Moscow remained the spiritual and cultural centre of the country.
Peter the Great’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth, made a significant contribution to the development of Moscow. Her main achievement was Lomonosov University, which opened on St Tatyana’s Day, January 12, 1755 (January 25 according to the Gregorian calendar). This day is still celebrated each year in Russia as Student Day.
At the turn of the 19th century, under Yekaterina II (Catherine the Great), Russia’s first water supply system was built, carrying fresh water to Moscow from the nearby village of Mytishchi. This remained a major source of fresh water for the city until the late 19th century. During the same period, a bypass canal was built off of the Moskva River, and one of the river’s tributaries, the Neglinnaya River, was diverted into an underground tunnel running through the city.
Under Alexander I, who ruled from 1801 until 1825, all Moscow’s boulevards were connected to form the modern-day Boulevard Ring. Mansions were built along the ring. Foreign stores from the German Quarter, where foreigners lived, were relocated to Kuznetsky Most, a street in downtown Moscow.
The city and its residents survived great hardship in 1812, when Napoleon and his army captured Moscow after the Battle of Borodino. However, a devastating fire broke out in the largely wooden city just one month later, forcing the French emperor to retreat. In honour of the victory over Napoleon, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was begun in 1839 (completed in 1880). Other famous landmarks built to commemorate the victory include the Alexander Garden and the Triumphal Gate.
In 1918, the government of the newly-established Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic moved the capital from St Petersburg back to Moscow. Later Moscow became the capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The pace of construction in Moscow reached unprecedented heights, and the city began to expand outward by incorporating outlying villages. A modern transport infrastructure was needed to meet the needs of a growing population and city. Moscow’s first regular bus service was launched in 1924. The first trolleybuses appeared on the city’s streets in 1933, and in May 1935 a grand ceremony was held to inaugurate the Moscow metro.
During the Great Patriotic War (WWII), the Battle of Moscow became the first major defeat suffered by Hitler’s armies. The battle marked a turning point in the war. In 1965, Moscow was awarded the status of Hero City by the Soviet government.
After the war, Moscow embarked on a period of rapid recovery and development. In 1956, construction began on the Moscow Ring Road. New districts and production facilities were created, as were new research and cultural institutions.
When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, Moscow became the capital of the new Russia. In 1993, it was declared a city of federal importance.
Moscow’s present-day official symbols were established by a law signed on February 1, 1995. The song Moya Moskva (My Moscow), by poets Mark Lisyansky and Sergei Agranyan and composer Isaak Dunayevsky, was chosen as the hymn of Moscow.