Lubyanka: Many Russians get goose bumps at the mention of this name. The KGB headquarters was once the venue of hundred-thousand tortures and those who survived the Stalinist terror were either executed or sent to a Gulag. The KGB Museum often tries to hide this fact, rather focusing on the strange side of espionage today. If you are interested in the Cold War, you will like this place. And don't worry: You won't disappear. Sticking to the principle of Glasnost Russia today is very eager to reveal to tourists anything that was top-secret before: bugs, for example. There are cameras in lighters, so we ask ourselves whether all Russian spies had to smoke in the past. The secret remains unanswered, so we continue to the coke cans with explosives and the loot that could be taken from the hated Americans. An American spacecraft is the main attraction of the museum. The KGB has long since resolved but the building has remained. Today Lubyanka is the seat of FSB, the Russian secret service. It was headed by Vladimir Putin for one year.
What a time gone by: The women were sewing, the men were working. The Palace of the Romanovs serves as a prime example for medieval gender segregation. The boys were separated from the girls at the age of six, restricted to live on another floor of the building. It was furnished in manly, dark colours, whereas the upper floor was bright, airy and womanly. And while the boys learned how to rule, the girls learned how to knit. The Palace of the Romanovs is characterized by the style of the Tsars but it doesn't deserve the term palace, the small townhouse rather reminding of a farmhouse than of Versailles. However, it is still worth a visit for two reasons: Firstly, the narrow staircases and small rooms make it impossible for many tourists to visit at the same time, so you will be more or less alone with the Romanovs. And secondly, the house has hardly been changed since the 17th century, so you will get fascinating insights into Russian medieval times. You will also see plenty of the Tsar family's housewares - not behind glass but where it belongs: on tables, in trunks, on the walls. In the mood for dinner with the Romanovs? So, head for the museum!
While France invented them, the Russians are the true heroes in tights. If you go to Moscow, don't miss ballet. The Summer Ballet Festival, for example, proves over a period of two months that one can do anything on tiptoes. Only the best ensembles are admitted here: the Russian State Ballet, the National Russian Vozrozhdenie Ballet, too. And when all of them perform the dying swan onstage, the Symphony Orchestra plays the music in the time of the tutu. The aim of the summer ballet is to combine old classics with new choreography and thus attracting a younger audience. The audience is allowed to come in jeans, only shorts and flip-flops are taboo. The program is standard: Swan Lake is always in fashion in Moscow, the Nutcracker is an evergreen and during the Cinderella performance you can follow the plot even without a programme. What's the thrill then? The dancers are the absolute masters of their art, the pros in twisting, the dancing stars of their profession. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a ticket!