From early modern times until the present, Russia (temporarily extended to the USSR) had two capital cities: Moscow and Petersburg. Moscow was the original capital, it was succeeded by Petersburg from the beginning of the 18th century.
The capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) until the union dissolved in 1991, Moscow attracted world attention as a centre of communist power; indeed, the name of the seat of the former Soviet government and the successor Russian government, the Kremlin (Russian: Kreml), was a synonym for Soviet authority. The dissolution of the U.S.S.R. brought tremendous economic and political change, along with a significant concentration of Russia’s wealth, into Moscow. Area 414 square miles (1,035 square km).
Russia’s Soviet past collides with its capitalist present everywhere in the country, but nowhere is this contrast more visible than in Moscow. Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s Mausoleum remains intact, as do many dreary five-story apartment buildings from the era of Nikita Khrushchev’s rule (the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s), yet glitzy automobiles and Western-style supermarkets, casinos, and nightclubs are equally visible. Many Orthodox churches, as well as some synagogues and mosques, have been restored, Moscow’s novel theatres have reclaimed leadership in the dramatic arts, and traditional markets have been revived and expanded. These markets, which under the Soviets were known as kolkhoz (collective-farm) markets and sold mainly crafts and produce, are now more sophisticated retail establishments.
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