This postcard is from Moscow. Moscow (Russian: Москва, tr. Moskva) is the capital and the largest city of Russia with 12.2 million residents within the city limits and 16.8 million within the urban area. It is the capital of the Central Federal District and Moscow Oblast. Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific center in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city entirely on the European continent. By broader definitions Moscow is among world's largest cities, being the 13th largest metro area, the 17th largest agglomeration, the 16th largest urban area, and the 9th largest within limits city worldwide. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has been ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer and is one of the world's largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and is also one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. Moscow is the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth. It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe; Mercury City Tower, the second tallest skyscraper in Europe and the Moscow International Business Center. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the capital increased its area 2.5 times; from about 1,000 square kilometers (390 sq mi) up to 2,511 square kilometers (970 sq mi), and gained an additional population of 233,000 people.
Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia making it the world's most populated inland city. The city is well known for its unique architecture which consists of many different historic buildings such as Saint Basil's Cathedral with its brightly colored domes. With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, it is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Soviet Union. Moscow is considered the center of Russian culture, having served as the home of prestigious Russian artists, scientists and sports figures during the course of its history and because of the presence of many different museums, academic and political institutions and theaters. Moscow is also the seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the residence of the Russian president. The Moscow Kremlin and the Red Square are also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in the city.
Over time, Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome (Третий Рим), The Whitestone One (Белокаменная), The First Throne (Первопрестольная), The Forty Forties (Сорок Сороков), and The Hero City (город-герой). In old Russian the word "Сорок" (forty) also meant a church administrative district, which consisted of about forty churches. The demonym for a Moscow resident is "москвич" (moskvich), rendered in English as Muscovite.