What do you think when you think of Moscow? Do you think of tall buildings, boulevards, lots of cars? Do you think of the Red Square? Do you think of mountains of snow? Well, you’re probably right. Except that you’re forgetting that it is summer now… a time of the year when the city transforms. In just a couple of months, Moscow changes its covers from white to green, becoming one of the greenest cities of the world, no joke. Standing tall and majestic, there’s an incredible amount of trees in the capital. Did you know that for each Muscovite there are about 16 square meters of greenery? As a comparison there are 7.5 per Londoner or Parisian, and 8.6 per every New Yorker. I googled this, therefore I speak the truth.
One of the biggest concentrations of all this greenery is the National Park Losiny Ostrov, literally meaning Moose Island (or Elk Island). The National Park was created in 1983 on what used to be a place of royal falconry and hunting, a region of impenetrable forests and swamps.
With an approximate area of 12 hectares (one third of which are within city limits), it is the third largest forest in a city of comparable size, the others located in Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. I find it incredible that within twenty kilometers from the center of Moscow, there’s a kingdom of wild animals, a true treasure trove of unique species of flora and fauna…
It was called Moose Island for a reason, as you can see. These forest giants are some of the oldest inhabitants of the park, and can be found there to this day. If you ever get into the restricted area of the park (which is very unlikely to happen), you may also stumble upon some spotted deer, wild boar, among other friendly creatures. In total, Losiny Ostrov counts with six different forests, each guarding some of the oldest pine and spruce trees, along with century-old black alder, birch, aspen, oak, and maple. Therefore, imagine the rich scent coming from those forests!
On the other hand, the capital has plenty gardens and parks, perfect places to escape the busy street life. Some of these are former estates of Russian tsars and nobility, an ideal balance of history, architecture, and nature. Located on the shores of the Moscow River is Kolomenskoye, what used to be a favorite summer residence of the tsars. Visiting this place is like time traveling to the past, due to the 16th century constructions, such as the Church of the Ascension, built to commemorate the birth of Tsar Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible. This church is recognized by the UNESCO as a world heritage site, due to its unique architecture.
There are many other parks, such as Kuskovo, a wealthy estate of Count Sheremetev. The palace is open for visits, while the surrounding gardens serve for a peaceful walk. The Kuzminsky Park is another charming destination. Sokolniki Park is great for both leisure and nature, offering activities for kids, cafes, and long walking and biking areas. Tsarytsino is another park combining nature and history in the middle of a metropolis. A beautiful old palace complex in the center makes the park all the more picturesque. Other than that, it is great for a nice afternoon stroll.
I could continue listing on and on, but I would probably get tired and you guys would get bored. So thank you for reading, and hopefully it won’t be long until my next post.