The story that Moscow was built on seven hills began making the rounds in the 15th-16th centuries, around the same time as the equally famous phrase that “Moscow is the Third Rome.” This saying comes from Philotheus, an influential monk in the Middle Ages, who, referring to Moscow and Constantinople, said that “two Romes fell, a third stands, and there will not be a fourth one.”
Moscow had become the main city of the Russian state by this time and was often declared the successor to the Roman Empire. One thing used to cement associations between the two cities was the idea that both were built on seven hills. At the time, Moscow was (like now) a fast-growing city built on natural elevations. It was not so big at the time, but big enough for this charming story to work. In the 16th century, Muscovites surveyed the city and counted these seven hills.
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