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 Survival Guide
Arbat
A wonderful area situated around one of the most ancient streets of Moscow. From the late 18th and 19th centuries, this area was dominated by the home-estates of nobles; in the second half of the 19th century, this was the place where one would find the majority of Moscow's intelligentsia. For a long time Arbat was the haunt of artists, musicians, poets, writers and intellectuals who created an indescribable bohemian atmosphere in this area of rambling streets and overgrown courtyards. Arbat along with its surroundings was almost a sacred place for many generations, an essence of this city, one of the symbols of Moscow.

Arbatskiye Vorota Square
Khudozhestvenny cinema is the first to attract your attention here with its garish posters. It was built in 1909 and in 1913 was rebuilt by the great architect Fedor Schechter, the author of such masterpieces of Moscow Moderne Style as Ryabushinsky house on Malaya Nikitskaya street and Morozov's residence on Spiridonovka street. Here the first Soviet sound film was shown and young Shostakovich worked as pianist.

Stary Arbat ("Old Arbat")
The first time Arbat was mentioned in the chronicles in 1493 and it kept its name through all these centuries, even during Soviet times when nearly every street was renamed after some communistic hero. The name Arbat is of eastern origin and it means "suburbs". The road from Moscow to Smolensk laid via Arbat and Vozdvizhenka streets and this road connected Moscow with Western Europe.

For Muscovites, it's not just a street, but a special "piece" of the capital, a kind of "Moscow within Moscow", with its own history, identity and traditions. The street's image is created by its residents. It was always "a closed world", full of exceptional people: the aristocracy and intellectuals. The list of famous Arbat people "arbatovtsy", works written, masterpieces created and scientific discoveries made in this place could serve as information for an encyclopedia. This is also the reason why many memorial museums and memorial flats are placed here. Arbat has always been one of the most beautiful streets of the city. Gradually, century after century, the street emerged with its own unique architectural style. It boasts original ancient mansions with moldings, balconies and caryatids, small cozy streets, laced lamps, stone paved roads.

During the Soviet government, Stary Arbat changed irreversibly: in early 1960s, it became the laid back street of the new modern avenue - Novy Arbat. This led to the destruction of many 18th and 19th century monuments; nevertheless, Arbat has not lost its charm. In 1986, Arbat became a pedestrian street. Today over forty embassies and ambassadors' residences are located here.

House No 2 in the beginning of Arbat is one of the best Moscow restaurants called "Prague". First it was a common inn but later it turned into a fancy place with exquisite cuisine. It was very popular among Moscow artistic bohemia. Here Chekhov was honoured after the first night of "Three Sisters".

Almost every old street has connection with Pushkin. Arbat is not an exception: in the house No 53 Pushkin and his beautiful wife Natalya Goncharova lived for a while after marriage. Nobody paid attention to this refined blue house for a long time; it was a communal flat until 1986 when Pushkin Museum was finally organised. Several years ago Arbat was presented with a sculpture of this famous couple.

The Tsoy's Wall at the corner of Arbat and Krivoarbatsky lane was an alternative to official monuments. First inscriptions and graffiti appeared shortly after the death of Victor Tsoy, Soviet rock legend of the 1980s. His fans keep coming and adding new signs expressing their emotions.

Another memorial flat is located in the house No 55. Here poet Andrey Bely, one of the greatest representatives of Symbolism in Russian literature was born. It has the same entrance with the Pushkin museum.

Arbat is a street for souvenir hunters. Different kinds of matreshkas from traditionally made ones to the ones looking like Gorbachev or even Osama Bin Laden; Russian fur hats, famous decorated shawls or Moscow views are always for sale. Antique and art shops offer wide range of precious souvenirs. After getting tired of choosing presents it is nice to have lunch in one of Arbat's numerous pubs and restaurants or listen to one of the impromptu street concerts given by just another undiscovered talent.

Arbat Lanes
The first thing that one notices in the area of Arbat is that there are almost no straight lines. It is a fanciful combination of curved lanes, gardens and courtyards. Wandering about cosy and quiet little streets might become a pleasant adventure.

In Krivoarbatsky lane a fence hides a true treasure: a strange looking house in the shape of two interlocking cylinders with more than 60 six-sided windows which was designed by the world-famous Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov. One of the best representatives of Constructivism built this experimental house for his family and that allowed him to use all his imagination. But architect pursued a practical end as well: the house was planned to be a prototype for future housing developments.

Krivoarbatsky lane is connected to Plotnikov lane. In the 17th century it was inhabited with carpenters and joiners, and here is the origin for its name ("plotnik" stands for "carpenter"). An apartment house No 4/5 built in 1907 attracts attention with an interesting sculpture frieze picturing Turgenev, Gogol and Tolstoy surrounded by mythological figures; surprising poses of the writers' sculptures caused many rumours and malignant remarks among Muscovites. Originally sculptor Andreev made this frieze for some museum, but for unknown reason it was split into parts and put on the walls of this house.

One of the most famous lanes of Arbat - Sivtsev Vrazhek - boasts a residence of the count Fedor Tolstoy known as The American. This man with a fame of a cardsharper and troublemaker took part in the first Russian round-the-world trip with admiral Kruzenshtern. For some nasty jokes the American was left on one of the Aleutian Islands and had to walk his way home through Siberia getting covered with tattoos on his way which later allowed him to shock noble ladies in Moscow. Across the street in the house No 27 there is a memorial flat of Alexander Herzen, a radical Russian writer and probably the first Russian political emigrant.

Novy Arbat ("New Arbat")
Novy Arbat is a perfect example of resoluteness and implacability of Soviet leaders. This monster street appeared after Nikita Khruschev's visit to "The Island of Freedom" - Cuba. He fell in love with avenues and sky-scrappers in Havana and decided to build a similar street in Moscow. An entire block of old Moscow with its little streets and beautiful houses was destroyed. Today Novy Arbat is an entertainment and shopping street with numerous nightclubs, boutiques, restaurants and shops. The only sad reminder of the old days is the Church of Simeon Stolpnik. It is the oldest building in the area and the only sample of 17th century architecture. Among those giants it looks more like an expensive souvenir.
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