Lenin's tomb（列宁墓） with the Savior Gate Tower in the background.
August 25， 2002
Moscow is maddening， sprawling and chaotic， still scruffy in places. And yet it is also stunningly beautiful and vibrant， rich with history， culture and art.
More than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union（苏联<1922-1991>）， Moscow has still not entirely shaken off its Soviet past. More than a few restaurants， hotels and museums seem determined to keep alive Soviet traditions of customer service， but the city is undergoing a rebirth that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. New boutique hotels（精品旅馆） are opening， while old hotels are being renovated to European standards. Restaurants， expensive and not so expensive， offer foods from all over the world.
It would be wrong to say the city is a Phoenix rising from the ashes since it never really fell that far， despite seven decades of Soviet rule and a tumultuous transition to a quasi-capitalistic quasi-democracy. It is fair to say， though， that it is regaining its place as one of Europe's thriving， intriguing capitals.
The government is now campaigning to make Moscow a tourism capital as well， trying to ease some of the difficulties that seem intended to repel tourists. Very few signs are in any language other than Russian， though the city's handsome Metro plans to start posting station names in the Latin alphabet， as well as the Russian Cyrillic（西里尔字母）。 The cumbersome， expensive visa-application process requires a letter of invitation （if you're traveling on your own， a Moscow hotel can often arrange one； otherwise， tour operators can do it）。 Nathela O. Shengelia， director of Russia's new Department of Tourism， is lobbying to ease those rules and end the irritating tradition of charging foreigners more at museums and churches.
Moscow， in the end， is worth the petty annoyances， and fall is an ideal time to visit. The short， hot summer has ended， and the long， cold winter has not yet begun. Although the city has experienced sensational， Mafia-style crimes， it is remarkably safe and clean， especially in the center. The city's tourism Web site， www.moscow-guide.ru， says it as only Russians can： “As beautiful as ever， despite all crises and misfortunes！”