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I’m completing a trifecta of sorts with this month’s column, as I proudly introduce you to the latest addition to the American Airlines network: Moscow. My last two columns were devoted to Barcelona and Milan, two cities we linked to New York with nonstop service last month. This month, we are launching nonstop service between the capital of Russia and the great city of Chicago.
As you may know, the Russian economy has achieved a remarkable turnaround during the last decade. Russia now has one of the 10 biggest economies in the world and exports more crude oil than Saudi Arabia. Retail, construction, and domestic investment are also booming, so it’s no surprise that many of the world’s top corporations are looking at Russia as a place where they can invest and grow. As Russia’s largest city, its capital, and its financial center, Moscow is a hotbed of commerce. But business is just one reason to visit this fascinating city.
Most people know that for hundreds of years, at the center of Moscow, the Kremlin, with its imposing red-brick walls and dramatic spires, has been the seat of government and an international symbol of Russian (and for most of the twentieth century, Soviet) power. Fewer people are aware that within the Kremlin walls -- which have survived many invaders over the centuries -- are some of the most beautiful churches and palaces you’ll ever see. These are open to the public, as are the Armoury museum, which houses royal treasures dating back to the fourteenth century, and the Diamond Fund, where you can marvel at, among other things, the 190-carat Orlov diamond, which was given to Catherine the Great by one of her many suitors.
Red Square, the open space universally recognizable from films and news clips, lies along the east wall of the Kremlin. The 800,000-square-foot space has been host to demonstrations, parades, riots, and even executions over the years. At the southern end of the square is the magnificent Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. Originally called the Church of the Intercession, it was built in the mid-sixteenth century to commemorate Ivan the Terrible’s victory over the Mongols, and it features 10 unique domes.
Moscow boasts several world-class museums and art galleries, including the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, home to a fine international collection, and the Tretyakov Gallery. The country’s first public art museum, the Tretyakov is considered to have the foremost collection of Russian art in the world. Moscow also has a flourishing performing-arts scene. The Bolshoi Theatre, where Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake made its debut in 1877, remains one of the world’s great venues for opera and ballet. The still-vibrant Moscow Academic Art Theatre -- the city’s foremost drama theater -- also has an illustrious history, having been cofounded by famed actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski in 1898. For somewhat lighter fare, visitors to Moscow should check out the acclaimed State Central Puppet Theatre or the Great Moscow State Circus.
Obviously, a single magazine column can’t do justice to a city as interesting and as important as Moscow. And given the newness of Moscow as an AA destination, I am not yet the expert I intend to be. But I hope I have piqued your interest enough to learn more about this amazing city and that before too long, you’ll want to discover firsthand what the newest addition to American’s global network is all about.
We’re ready when you are. In the meantime, wherever you’re going today, thanks for flying American Airlines.
Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO