Initially, they set up a wooden, provisional mausoleum here for a wake for the leader of the proletariat before his funeral, which ended up never taking place. Soviet authorities, owing to a multitude of reasons, eternalized the presence of the new country's founder. By 1930, the wooden mausoleum had been replaced by a new, solid building that stands to this day.
The building was created by Alexey Shchusev, an outstanding architect and the originator of many important buildings in Moscow. Stylistically, Lenin's Mausoleum is categorized as Avante-garde and Art Deco. Along with that, the mausoleum's architecture, despite all its innovativeness, is the continuation of a 1,000-year tradition of erecting shrines to tsars and pharaohs. Sometimes, it is possible to encounter strange assessments that give the mausoleum as a "terrible" building that has disfigured Red Square. It is hard to dispute or agree with this kind of subjective assertion - and the same goes for the issue of justifying the worship of Lenin's body by true Communist atheists - however it is perfectly apparent that, in terms of its artistic qualities, Lenin's Mausoleum is a vivid example of twentieth-century ritualistic architecture that has been recognized by architects the world over.
Shchusev created a building that speaks concisely but is monumental, drawing on thousands of years of tradition, but at the same time using the Avant-garde architectural techniques that were very appropriate in those times.
The architect did not disturb the surrounding backdrop of Moscow's central square, but managed to fit the mausoleum into it - the Kremlin's towers and walls, Saint Basil's Cathedral, and the square's panorama. Today, Lenin's Mausoleum is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of Red Square's ensemble.
This tomb was also the country's main tribune - Soviet-era Russian leadership ascended onto it to oversee parades and deliver speeches (at the end of the 1970's, an escalator was built in the back part of it due to how feeble the Soviet Union's leaders were). It is somewhat paradoxical that in the atheistic Soviet Union there was a burial vault - a very Christian manifestation - with a sarcophagus on display with the remains of a Communist "saint."
For a short period of time, the inscription "Stalin" was added to "Lenin", and two leaders occupied the mausoleum. However, during Khrushchev's campaign to denounce Stalin's cult of personality, his body was taken out of the tomb and buried in the Kremlin wall immediately.
Nowadays, the issue of whether to bury Lenin is still part of Russian discourse, and no consensus has formed in society yet.
We do not believe that visiting the inside of Lenin's Mausoleum is of fundamental importance, or should be mandatory for our visitors. However, if desired we can try to get inside, despite the extremely inconvenient schedule (from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. four times per week), as well as the frequent shutdowns for maintenance work.
Entrance into the mausoleum is free.