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The Lenin Mausoleum

The Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow Kremlin For the burial of the Father of the Revolution, something special had to be arranged. Immediately after his death in 1924, a wooden mausoleum was erected on the square. In 1929, architect Aleksei Shchusev was commissioned to design a more lasting home for the body. The result, unveiled a year later, is a squat but attractive pyramid in layers of red, grey and black granite that harmonizes remarkably well with the Kremlin buildings behind it, despite its clear Constructivist influences. In the 1930's, granite platforms were added around the sides of the mausoleum, providing a point for government officials to inspect parades, a sight that became famous throughout the world in the Soviet Era.

While the mausoleum is comparatively small from the outside, it has hidden depths. There are two underground floors to the structure, which used to house a rest area for VIPs and the Kremlin guards, and the laboratory that was once used to supervise the ongoing embalming process. Sadly, though apparently no longer used, they aren't open to the public.

Despite the attention of a team of scientists - and leaving aside rumors that he was long ago replaced by a wax model - Lenin is not the freshest-looking of corpses. Gone are the days when eager citizens queued round block to catch a quick glimpse of the great leader. However, if you do wish to see the body, the process is far from simple. First you have to leave bags and cameras - no filming inside - in the Kutayfa tower cloakrooms. Then you join the queue that runs along the Kremlin wall. Visitors are kept moving, so you only get to spend a few minutes inside the mausoleum before you're hurried out by the guards. The funerary chamber is very dark and, on sunny days, the sudden contrast can be bewildering. Nonetheless, this is still something of a morbid necessity for visitors to Moscow. After years of rumor and controversy as to the fate of Lenin's body, the mausoleum was reopened in April 2005, and it looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 13.00, closed on Mondays and Fridays.

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