The History of Moscow in GIFs

Here’s to 870 years of the Russian capital.

On September 9 Moscow celebrated its 870th anniversary. In honor of the holiday, Strelka Magazine remembers 15 important events in the history of the beloved city. With GIFs.

The First Recorded Mention of Moscow

In April of 1147 in the area that is now the capital Russia, there was a meeting of two princes — Yuri Dolgorukiy and Svyatoslav Olegovich. This meeting was the first known mention of Moscow in the annals of history. While historians agree that the area was already inhabited by this time, the exact date of the city’s founding is unknowable, so 1147 seemed like the best candidate for the city’s birthday.

The Time of Mongol-Tatar Rule

During the time of Mongol-Tatar rule, Moscow was burned a number of times. But in 1328 Prince Ivan Kalita got the nod of approval from Khan Uzbek to run the place as its own realm of the kingdom. Because of this, Moscow became the epicenter of the Russian heartland.

Moscow the Royal Capital

After liberation from Mongol-Tatar rule, Moscow became the foundation for a united state. So, in 1547, Prince Ivan the Terrible named himself tsar and Moscow became the capital of the Tsardom of Russia.

Let’s Build a Candy-Colored Cathedral

In 1561, right along the river, the construction of Moscow’s most distinctive architectural symbol, the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, was completed. But that was too much of a mouthful, so it became known as the Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed… which is just slightly less of a mouthful.

Minin and Pozharsky Liberate Moscow

After the death of Tsar Fedor Ivanovich, who had no heirs, Moscow fell into chronic political crisis. By 1610 Moscow was under the control of the Polish-Lithuanian army. The capital was liberated in 1612 by Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who were the leaders of the people's militia.

Moscow Loses its Status of Capital

Peter I wasn’t a big fan of Moscow. So, in 1703 he began building a new city at the source of the Neva River, and in 1712 he moved the capital there. Subsequently Moscow received the honorary title of the “Ancestral Capital."

The Fire of 1812

During the 1812 French invasion of Russia, Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov decided to surrender Moscow to the French without much of a fight. Soon after the occupation began, the city was engulfed in flames in a fire that destroyed about three quarters of all buildings.

One Million Inhabitants in 1897

At the end of the 19th century, the population of Moscow grew to over one million people for the first time. Based on data collected during the first General Census of the Russian Empire in 1897, 1,038,591 people lived in the city at that time.

Return of the Capital

In Moscow, the transition of power in the autumn of 1917 did not go as smoothly as it did in Petrograd. There was fighting in the streets of the city center for a week, but as a result, the Bolsheviks managed to defeat the defenders of the Provisional Government. In 1918, the new authorities returned the Russian capital to Moscow.

Opening of the Metro

In 1935 the capital earned itself a subway. The first train of the Moscow subway set off early in the morning on May 15 from Sokolniki station.

The 1980 Olympics

In 1980 Moscow hosted the Summer Olympic Games. In preparation for the Olympics in the capital, half a dozen sports facilities were either opened or reconstructed. The closing ceremony of the games was held on August 3 in Luzhniki Stadium, which was called the Central Lenin Stadium back then.

The First McDonald's

In 1990 McDonald's got its first location in Russia at Pushkin Square. The line to get something from the new restaurant stretched for a few kilometers.

The Third Transport Ring Closed

The Third Ring Road began to be laid out in the 1960s. The most active construction of the highway was during the years of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. In 2003, the capital opened the Lefortovo tunnel, and the ring was finally closed.

Gorky Park Redesigned

Soon after the appointment of Sergey Sobyanin as the new mayor of Moscow, a campaign was launched to improve the urban environment. Its key event was the renovation of Gorky Park, which began in 2011.

New Moscow

On July 1, 2012, the capital became almost 2.5 times bigger. Since that day, four new administrative districts that were previously located in the Moscow region have been officially annexed into Moscow.

Text: Kirill Golovkin Translation: Maxwell Koopsen