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This week it was announced that one of the UK's major no frills airlines is set to launch a route direct from Manchester to Russia's capital, Moscow.

This followed October's announcement that the same airline would launch a Gatwick to Moscow route, also in the spring. The Civil Aviation Authority only grants permission to two British airlines to fly these routes, so competition for the slots was hotly contested. The flights will take around four hours and are scheduled to run four times weekly. The availability of low cost air fares will no doubt be of great benefit to those who travel for business and tourists alike.

It might not have been on the radar for budget travellers in the past but Moscow certainly has a lot to offer visitors with its colourful history and architecture. Red Square is a first stop for the vast majority of visitors to the city and this iconic panorama doesn't disappoint. The paving in this, Moscow's central square, isn't actually red at all, but black. Many of the city's most famous landmarks sit proudly around the square. St Basil's Cathedral with its colourful domes looks a little like something from Disney World but is an incredible sight outside and in, where there is also a museum that is worth a visit. Also situated on the Square the Lenin Mausoleum which offers the opportunity to view the embalmed body of the revolutionary, although whether he is actually contained within is still hotly disputed. One of the imposing walls of The Kremlin, home to Russia's government, also runs alongside the Square. This enormous complex not only is the official home to the Russian President, it also features a diamond exhibition along with a number of churches and gardens to explore.

Getting around Moscow is fairly straightforward. The city Metro system is a beautiful sight in its own right. Many stations reveal elegant architecture to enjoy during your trip. The city's Nikulin circus is on Tsvetnoi Bulvar or take in the wildlife in the Moscow Zoo, the most impressive zoo in Russia. If you fancy stretching your legs then the famous Gorky Park, which has been rejuvenated relatively recently, is worth a visit with its pretty gardens and boutique cafes and restaurants.

Moscow is also the hub of Russia's extensive rail network so visitors can make the most of their trip by setting their sights further afield too with cities such as St Petersburg just four hours away by train there's no excuse to limit horizons to the capital.

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