A Visit To Lenin's Tomb

During my visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg Russia one of the things at the top of my list was a visit to Red Square together with an attendance at Lenin's Mausoleum located alongside the walls of Kremlin.

During my time in Moscow I stayed at the magnificent St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya Hotel situated a short five minute walk away from Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral the Bolshoi Theater and Gum Department Store.

Main-Entrance-St-Regis-Hotel-Moscow St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya Hotel Entry

The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya is part of a complex of historical buildings at the corner of Nikolskaya Street, Lubyanka Square, Maly Cherkassky Lane and Bolshoi Cherkassky Lane. Constructed in the 1870s the building itself has a wonderful past as it was the residence of Count Orlov-Davydov.

Situated close to the Duma – Russia’s parliament, major business centers and the capital's main commercial and governmental buildings, I was perfectly situated to absorb the city and its sights. When enjoying my daily breakfast binges, I was in full view of Lubyanka Square and the famous headquarters of the KGB, the Lubyanka Building located just across the road.

St.-Regis-Moscow-Nilolskaya-Hotel-Lobby-Lounge St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya Hotel Lobby Lounge

The Beating Heart Of Russia

I rose early on my first morning in Russia and by 7am, I was out the door and headed on foot down Nikolskaya Street towards Red Square. Although the USSR ceased to exist more than 26 years ago the body of its founder Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov better known as Lenin, continues to lie in a mausoleum on Red Square beside the Kremlin walls.

Lenin died at his Gorki home on 21 January 1924, after falling into a coma earlier in the day. The official cause of death was recorded as an incurable disease of the blood vessels. The man responsible for the decision to embalm Lenin was his successor, Joseph Stalin, and in November 1923 when Lenin was still alive but terminally ill, Stalin suggested that the dead body should be preserved to provide an opportunity for Russian citizens to bid their farewell to the former leader.

At the time, members of the Bolshevik leadership initially met the idea with much displeasure however at the time, Leon Trotsky who was considered to be the second most important figure in the party after Lenin, compared the preservation of the body to that of the creation of 'holy relics' much worshiped by Christians.


At the time thoughts of this nature were considered to be unheard of, most especially for any ideological communist! Lenin's widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya also reacted negatively to the preservation of the Bolshevik leader's body.

However it was agreed, and Lenin's body was dissected and prepared for display to the masses, his internal organs were removed and fluids contained within the body were replaced with a special embalming solution to slow down the process of decomposition.

Scientists to this day maintain the body in good condition by injecting preservatives and immersing the body in a bath of preservative solution every eighteen months or so. It's thought that no more than 23 percent of the body is still remains today, however the display does retain the physical appearance. The suits in which Lenin lies deteriorate quickly and have to be regularly changed.

What Is The Annual Cost To Maintain And Preserve Lenin's Mausoleum?

According to information on the Russian State Procurement Agency website, 13 million Rubles equal to that of USD$217,395 / AUD$277,514 / GBP$168,914 was allocated towards 'biomedical work to preserve Lenin's vital appearance' in the 2016 budget.

The-Body-Of-Vladimir-Lenin The body of Vladimir Lenin Source: Reuters

When Can Visitors Attend To View Lenin

At the time of writing the mausoleum is open between the hours of 10:00 to 13:00 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Attendance is free. The visit takes place according to strict regulations and museum rules state there is to be no talking, smoking, no mobile phones or taking of photos inside which is strictly prohibited. Guards are posted throughout the memorial and visitors will fast come to the attention of the these men should any of the rules of entry be broken.

The sarcophagus with the body sits on a plinth and it is forbidden to get close to it or stay for a long time. Under the watchful eye of armed guards visitors are directed to walk around the sarcophagus in a semicircle to observe the revolutionary before exiting to the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

Kremlin-Wall-Necropolis The Kremlin Wall Necropolis

It is here that lies the cream of Soviet society from Stalin to Brezhnev and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Nobody will hurry you along at the necropolis. Visitors are permitted to lay flowers at any grave or just wander by considering the imprint that has been left after these important historical figures have passed.

Sandra Hawkins

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