Moscow is the capital of Russia
and the largest city in Europe. Having played a central role in the development of the Russian state and its history, Moscow was the capital of the former Soviet Union and continues to pave the way as Muscovites move into the 21st century. A 950 year-old city, Moscow has many reminders of its imperial and Soviet past. It is a sprawling city with numerous museums, Soviet-era monoliths and post-Soviet kitsch.
Moscow is the financial and political centre of Russia and the former Soviet Union, with a population of around 13 million, and covers an area of around 1080 km². One-tenth of all Russian citizens live in the metropolitan area. Moscow is in UTC+3 time zone.
Moscow is a large metropolis on the Moskva River, which bends its way through the city. Most of the main sites are on the northern bank of the river. The other major waterway is the Yauza River, which flows into the Moskva east of the Kremlin.
Much of Moscow's geography is defined by the numerous 'Ring Roads' that circle the city at various distances from the centre, roughly following the outline of the walls that used to surround Moscow. With Red Square and the Kremlin forming the very centre, the innermost ring road is the Boulevard Ring (Bulvarnoye Koltso), built in the 1820s where the 16th century walls used to be. It runs from the Christ the Savior Cathedral in south-west central Moscow, to the mouth of the Yauza in south-east central Moscow.
The next ring road, the Garden Ring (Sadovoe Koltso), derives its name from the fact that landowners near the road in Tsarist times were obligated to maintain gardens to make the road attractive. In Soviet times, the road was widened, and curently you will find no gardens there.
The recently constructed Third Ring is not much use for tourists but is a heavily used motorway which absorbs a bit of Moscow's traffic. It roughly follows the outline of Kamer-Kollezhsky val, the customs boundary of Moscow in the 18th-early 20th century. The outer edge of Moscow is largely defined by the Moscow Ring Road (widely known by its abbreviation: MKAD-Moskovskaya kolcevaya avto doroga), a motorway which is 108 km long and encircles the entire city (similar to London's M25 and Paris' Périphérique). Finally, a Fourth Ring is due to be built between the Third Ring and the Moscow Ring Road in the next years, using in places the right-of-way of the freight rail loop.