Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
The Tretyakov Gallery (www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/) on the south side of the Moscow River is a good place to see some of the greatest masterpieces of Russian art, from the earliest icons to modern times. The majolica fireplace above is by Mikhail Vrubel, one of the best known Russian painters of the Art Nouveau period. The gallery has several rooms devoted to his work, and you can see another example of it on the facade of the Metropol Hotel near Red Square.
The collection was originally a bequest from Pavel Tretyakov to the city of Moscow in 1892, but has expanded greatly over the years. It exhibits Russian paintings from many different periods, including the very popular Wanderers School of the 19th century. My favourite rooms, in addition to the Vrubel ones, are those devoted to early icons and beautifully carved and bejewelled early Psalters and Bible covers. A visit to the gallery is a good way to gather an idea of the grand sweep of Russian history, since many paintings portray often gruesome historical events.
Admission to the Tretyakov only costs about $6, and is free for those under 18. There is a cafe on site. If you want to prefer to enjoy art without the crowds, try to avoid weekends.