Growing up in the Russian city of Gorky—now called Nizhny Novgorod—Natalia Vodianova worked selling fruit from a street cart until she moved to Paris at 17 to begin her modeling career. While modeling has taken her all over the world, she’ll never forget her homeland. “Moscow is the heart of my country, I love being here. It’s mysterious, cultural, exciting, crazy, and spiritual,” she says. “When I arrive in Moscow I always have this feeling of extreme excitement. Moscow is a huge inspiration for me. I love people; I love what I find here. It’s just something in the air, even the smell; I don’t know there is just something—delight.” Natalia will always have a soft spot in her heart for Moscow, and here she lists some of her favorite things about her favorite city.
Considered the center of the city, the infamous square has served as a market, meeting place, and government location over the years. “When people come to Moscow they go to Red Square. There is a place where you throw a coin up in the air and where the coin lands is where you are sort of going to end up living, or where you are going to go next. It is a bit of a fortune-telling place.” You could spend at least an entire day in this vicinity with the historical richness that surrounds it. View the preserved body of Vladimir Lenin in Lenin’s Mausoleum, take in the amazing architecture of the Kremlin (Russia’s seat of government), visit the State Historical Museum, and, of course, who could forget the landmark St. Basil’s Cathedral?
Russian Federation, Moscow
While many cities have underground metro systems, Moscow’s is one to wonder at because of its intricate design, from marble to sculptures to mosaics. “The subway stations in Moscow, they are so different from anywhere else in the world. There are absolutely incredibly beautiful bronze statues,” explains Natalia. “Stalin, when he ordered to build these stations, he said, ‘I want people to feel like it’s their palaces.’” Even if you’re not sure where you’re going, roam around the underground to view the beautiful craftsmanship fit for a king, but built for the people.
Shop & Bar Denis Simachëv
Of course Natalia has a favorite spot for picking up the hottest in Russian apparel: Designer Denis Simachev’s store is stocked with his own designs. “One of the really great places to go in Moscow is my friend’s. He is a fantastic designer,” Natalia says. “He just produces what people want to wear.”
12, bldg 2 Stoleshnikov pereulok
+ 7 495.629.57.02
It wouldn’t be a trip to Russia without time spent in the baths. “A banya is a Russian sauna and its made to purify your body and soul.” The bathhouse provides a spa-like experience, complete with a relaxing dip into warm waters and a shot of vodka paired with frozen fish dipped in spices. Sanduny, Natalia’s favorite, is the oldest and most dazzling one in the city.
14 Neglinnaya ulitsa 3-7
The Bolshoi Theatre
The second largest theater in Europe houses the city’s famed operas and ballets. “Bolshoi is another icon of Moscow, we are so proud of it. It’s our culture; it’s our heritage. The Russian ballerina is considered to be one of the best in the world,” Natalia says. The Bolshoi holds a special place in Natalia’s heart, as her grandparents used to take her there to expose her to the culture of their heritage.
pl. Teatralnaya 1
Before you say dasvidaniya, make sure you’ve picked up at least one set of the infamous nesting dolls to bring back with you. “I think every household should have matryoshka. They are just so visual and so decorative. Very symbolic for us, of course. It’s our Barbie.”