Moscow State University building

Shutterstock / Triff

Moscow State University (MGU)

Arbat & Khamovniki

Head to the hills south of the city for one of the best views of Moscow. From the square in front of Moscow State University, most of the city spreads out before you. It is an excellent vantage point to see Luzhniki, the huge stadium complex built across the river for the 1980 Olympics, as well as Novodevichy Convent and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Behind Universitetskaya pl is the Stalinist spire of Moscow State University, one of the 'Seven Sisters'. The building is the result of four years of hard labour by convicts between 1949 and 1953. It boasts an amazing 36 floors and 33km of corridors. The shining star that sits atop the spire is supposed to weigh 12 tonnes. Among other socialist-realist frills on the facade, look for the eager students looking forward to communism. The building is not open to the public, which is a shame, because the lobby is equally elaborate, featuring bronze statues of distinguished Soviet scientists.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arbat & Khamovniki attractions

1. Vorobyovy Gory Nature Preserve

0.78 MILES

Vorobyovy Gory, or Sparrow Hills, is the green hilly area south of the Moscow River, opposite the tip of the Khamovniki peninsula. This wooded hillside is…

2. Novodevichy Cemetery

1.79 MILES

Adjacent to the Novodevichy Convent, the Novodevichy Cemetery is one of Moscow’s most prestigious resting places – a veritable who’s who of Russian…

3. Novodevichy Convent

1.92 MILES

The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 to celebrate the taking of Smolensk from Lithuania, an important step in Moscow’s conquest of the old Kyivan…

4. Exposition of Military Equipment

2.06 MILES

Tucked into a corner of the vast Park Pobedy, this exhibition displays weapons and military equipment from the WWII era. There are plenty of Red Army…

5. Museum of the Great Patriotic War

2.18 MILES

The Museum of the Great Patriotic War is the centrepiece of Park Pobedy (Victory Park). The massive museum has hundreds of exhibits, including dioramas of…

6. Park Pobedy


The Great Patriotic War – as WWII is known in Russia – was a momentous event that is still vivid in the hearts, minds and memories of many Russian…

7. Memorial Synagogue at Poklonnaya Hill

2.31 MILES

The Memorial Synagogue at Poklonnaya Hill opened in 1998 as a memorial to Holocaust victims, as well as a museum of the Russian Jewry. Admission is with a…

8. Triumphal Arch


Just east of Park Pobedy, the Triumphal Arch celebrates the defeat of Napoleon in 1812. The original arch was demolished at its site in front of the…