Ostentatious and expensive, the Russian capital is famous for its lively, 24/7 nightlife and fabulous displays of wealth.
But arguably, there is more to Moscow than meets the eye.
With a string of new art galleries and restaurants and a thriving creative community, Moscow's cultural offerings are aplenty.
Moscow's answer to Tate Modern and the Pompidou Centre, the Garage is a vast contemporary art center formerly housed in the shell of a 1920s constructivist bus depot. This spring sees its move to the city's version of Hyde Park, Gorky Park, best known in reference to the 1981 crime thriller of the same name by American writer Martin Cruz Smith.
Having hosted exhibitions by Russian and international artists, from Alexey Brodovitch to Carsten Höller, Garage aims to make contemporary art part of everyday Russian life. As it transitions into its new home, Garage will operate in a temporary pavilion in Gorky Park designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban followed by a permanent building by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas -- due to be completed in the second half of 2012.
Light Bite: Bar Strelka
A revamped loft housed in a former chocolate factory, Bar Strelka serves as a hub for the students of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design. Formerly heading the institution's educational programme was Rem Koolhaas, now one of the five research theme directors. The institute's aim is to develop fresh perspectives on key issues in contemporary Russia, bringing architects, intellectuals and designers together under one roof. Mingle with Strelka's current students and the city's intelligentsia, while enjoying one of the best burgers in town and the sweeping views of Moscow River and the Chapel of Christ the Saviour.
Address: 14 Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, Bldg. 5
Tel.: +7 495 2258888
Gallery Hopping: Pobeda Gallery
Next door is Pobeda, the first Russian photography gallery to exhibit internationally. To coincide with the gallery's fifth anniversary is the opening of photographer Alexey Kiselev's exhibition, Nothing Special. Kiselev, who has shot for Vogue Russia and L'Officiel Russia will showcase a retrospective, which will include portraits of the artist's friends and his infamous series, Cats. Nothing Special runs from April 5 to June 4, 2012.
Address: Red October Chocolate Factory, Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya 3 Bldg. 4
Tel.: +7 495 644 03 13
Local Artists in Focus: Gosha Ostretsov and Katerina Bodrunova
Look up some of the city's immensely talented artists, such as Gosha Ostretsov and Katerina Bodrunova. After graduating from the School of Theatre Design at the Bolshoi Theatre, Ostretsov moved to Paris, where he worked as an artist and designer for Jean-Charles de Castelbajac before returning to Moscow to, as he says, "help create culture in Russia and help young artists." Having exhibited at several institutions, including the Zabludowicz Collection and the Saatchi Gallery, Ostretsov has carved a name for himself both at home and abroad. Meanwhile, 26-year-old self-taught photographer Katerina Bodrunova has also been on the receiving end of much critical acclaim since first exhibiting in 2010. Since then, she has shown her work at the Art Paris Fair 2011 as a winner of the Saatchi Gallery competition in addition to winning three Gold prizes and a Silver prize in the Px3 Prix de la Photographie Paris in 2011.
At Night: Solyanka Club
After an art-filled day in Moscow, head to Solyanka Bar, the city's hippest club where you can grab a bite and stay late. With an an all-encompassing offering, Solyanka isn't just a club, it also features an excellent restaurant, a designer clothes shop run by identical twins, and an art gallery showcasing specially produced works.
Address: Solyanka 11/6
Tel.: +7 495 221 75 57