Lenin mausoleum

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One of the "Big 4" mausoleums of deceased communist leaders. This one, in Russia's capital Moscow, is "the original", the first one, which all the others are modelled on. 

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>What there is to see


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>Time required

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More background info: Lenin was the leader of the Russian Revolution and first head of the resultant Soviet Union until his untimely death in 1924 (aged only 53 – see Gorky Leninskiye). 
Under his successor Stalin, attempts were made to preserve the corpse, and once the pioneering embalming process had been successful, the body was put on public display, first in a simple temporary mausoleum made of wood, later replaced by the current structure. Lenin's body has over the many years since his demise needed a lot of attention by an expert team responsible for the preservation of the corpse. The constant monitoring and re-embalming of the body, basically regular baths in a vat of preservatives, has cost his country dearly over the years, but what's a few million if it's for the preservation of the empty shell of the man who is arguably communism's greatest saint (alongside Marx, of course, who's buried in a conventional grave at Highgate cemetery in London).
The most infamous of all Soviet leaders, Josef Stalin, shared the mausoleum with Lenin for a while, from his death in 1953 until 1961, when he was removed and buried by the Kremlin Wall, like other Soviet leaders after him (except Khrushchev, who's at Novodvichy).
The embalming technique developed for Lenin was later exported to Vietnam and North Korea for the preservation of their respective deceased leaders, Ho Chi Minh and Kim Il Sung (and later presumably Kim Hong Il too), while Mao's body was preserved with the help of Vietnam, quasi by second-hand know-how (at a time when the Soviet Union and China weren't on speaking terms). The Russians remain the world's experts in the art, though – and allegedly the honour of such a preservation has also been extended to some millionaires (and/or mafiosi).
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lenin's continued post-death future was temporarily under threat. There were calls, notably by Boris Yeltsin, for removing Lenin and burying him elsewhere, properly, under ground, but these calls have meanwhile ebbed away. So it looks like Lenin's mausoleum will remain a major destination, for (dark) tourists and communism pilgrims alike.
What there is to see: Lenin, basically. You have to queue forever, then quickly shuffle through the dimly lit interior and past the glass coffin with Lenin's waxy-looking shell dressed in a suit and tie. You can't linger, you have to keep moving, so the encounter is a rather brief one. Nevertheless a momentous one. This is the Mother of all modern mausoleums of communist leaders on public display. A must-do for any dedicated dark tourist. Probably more so than any of the other three (although at least North Korea's Kim mausoleum, with its double occupancy, is actually leagues better than Lenin's!). Try and concentrate on taking the short moment in properly: you're encountering the body of a Big historical figure who changed the world more than most others. However, his body actually looks rather small …
Outside, take in the architecture of the mausoleum too – a red and black marble-clad step-pyramid, which may be smaller than any of the other "Big 4" but is more elegant. The top of the mausoleum served as the grandstand for the Soviet Politburo during the great military parades of the USSR – try and picture the grey clique atop Lenin's marble final abode … today, it's no longer so easy to conjure that image up in your head …
Next to the mausoleum itself is the Kremlin Wall necropolis of the other leaders of the Russian Revolution and Soviet communist General Secretaries, including Stalin and Brezhnev. They don't get the theatric appreciation that Lenin receives, but you could still have a peek …
Location: by the north-eastern wall of the Kremlin on Red Square, in the very centre of Moscow.
Google maps locator: [55.7537,37.6199]
Access and costs: easy to find and free, but expect to queue.
Details: very easy to get to – see Red Square; the mausoleum is right by the Kremlin Wall, the entrance is at the north-western corner of Red Square. You don't need a ticket, but expect long queues. No bags or photography allowed. If you don't have anyone to look after your stuff you have to deposit it at the left luggage facility by the Kremlin's visitor entrance. Appropriate attire and behaviour is a must. Guards are on hand to enforce this – and they're no jokesters!
Opening times: only Tuesday to Thursday and Saturdays (some sources say also Sundays, but I wouldn't rely on it), from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – but note that every 18 months Lenin undergoes the full re-embalming treatment, which takes six weeks.
Admission free.
Time required: actually seeing Lenin only takes a couple of minutes – but queuing up can take seemingly forever. Make sure you have sufficient time – half a day if combining a visit to the mausoleum with the Kremlin.
Combinations with other dark destinations: see Moscow, especially Red Square.
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see Red Square, Moscow.

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