If Tverskaya can fairly be described as Moscow's "Main Street" (despite its network of huge arterial roads), then Pushkinskaya Square definitely represents the hub of the area's activity. If you're looking for something to do, people to watch, and a general buzzing atmosphere, this is the place to take it all in. After all, this is one of the busiest squares in the world.
The square was previously known as Strastnaya Square - after the monastery of the same name - until its official rebranding by the Soviet authorities in 1937. The monastery was, in fact, demolished at this time, along with almost all other churches around the square, following the Russian revolution and the "triumph" of atheistic Marxist ideals over the country's imperialist heritage, which was associated by the regime with Russian Orthodox traditions.
It is perhaps unsurprising that, in an attempt to replace these monuments, there now stands a statue of iconic Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin, in the square. The statue had been funded by public subscription during the 1880s, and its move to replace the demolished sacred buildings could be seen - at least in part - as a representation of the Communist regime's mission to replace religious loyalty fervour with idolatry based on national pride and international strength. It is worth remembering that Pushkin is considered almost ubiquitously as the father of Russian literature, and one of the country's most esteemed contributions to the cultural world. From all of this comes the square's informal moniker, "Pushka" (cannon), by which it is commonly known to locals.
The square itself is a bustling collection of restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment venues. but is dominated by a huge cinema which boasts the biggest screen in western Europe. Whilst you might not be able to catch an English language film (there are other locations for this, however), be sure to turn up for a premiere and catch a glimpse of the stars.
Pushkinskaya Square is also home to Russia's very first - and biggest - McDonalds restaurant. With stories of queues around the block upon its initial opening in 1990, and images of McDonalds' staff being given lessons in smiling to patrons, this is worth a stop if only just to contemplate the capitalist journey of this heavenly consumerist city over recent years. Notably, this McDonalds has been the largest one in the world for over 20 years, but will be beaten into 2nd place by a new establishment on the London's Olympic site. For a more refined snack, however, we'd recommend you stop by at Pushkin restaurant (not to be confused with the cafe which is also excellent!), afterwards take up a spot on the edge of the square itself, and watch the parade of Moscow life pass by for a lesson in contemporary Moscow life.
Throughout the Year
Pushkin monument Tverskaya Street