The 18th century architecture ensemble was built (though not finished) following the order of empress Catherine II) in pseudo-Gothic style, after projects of the architects Bazhenov and Kazakov, and it is the only 18th century architectural ensemble of such dimensions in Russia. Around the palace, in the park there are a number of pavilions, pergolas, arbours, artificial grottos, decorative bridges (early 19th century, architect I. Yegotov), a Russian Orthodox temple “Source of Life”, as well as a modern recreation center with an upscale restaurant. For a long time most buildings were ruined (and alpinists used them for training). Recently most buildings have been "completed": rooftops, interiors and decorations were added and their historical appearance has been alterated. A number of buildings house the Russian museum of folk and applied art. The atrium of the “Bread House” is used for concerts of Moscow musicians.
Just in case you mistakenly heard that it was all ice and snow in Russia, take a peek at the Big Bikini Exposition. This is right on the river Moskva in Moscow!Moscow has been the capital of Russia for almost its entire history. The exception is during the period of the Russian Empire, which lasted from 1721 until the Russian Revolution 1917. For these two centuries the capital was St. Petersburg. The Russian Empire was the second largest contiguous Empire in world memory; only the Mongol Empire had been greater.Check out what's happening north of Mongolia these days, in ChitaAlthough you may not have heard of Sochi, on the Black Sea, they're building up quickly and hope to host the 2014 Olympics.Other periods of Russian history include the Tsardom of Russia, from Ivan IV to Peter the Great, and the Grand Duchy (14th-16th centuries).The earliest period of Russian history was ruled by the Novgorod Republic and Kievan Rus, which was the first Russian state dating back to 800AD in Kiev.Modern Russia remains one of the world's superpowers. They launched the earth's second satellite, called Sputnik 1, and were the first country to put a human being into orbit around earth. (The first one is called the Moon.)After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a federal republic of 83 states.Text by Steve Smith.