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 Survival Guide
Zamoskvorechiye
Zamoskvorechiye
The area in the city centre beyond the Moscow River - this should be the shortest definition of this area. Zamoskvorechiye (literally it really means "beyond the Moscow River") with its peculiar spirit of old Moscow outskirts stands apart from other Moscow districts. For a long time this area had not been a prestigious one, as every spring it was vastly overflowed. In the 16-17th centuries Zamoskvorechiye was mostly occupied by artisans and craftsmen, who lived in small separate settlements - the so-called "slobody". Each sloboda took its name from the main business of its inhabitants: for example, Sadovaya ("Garden" where gardeners lived), Ovchinnaya ("Sheepskin"), and so on. The names of now non-existent slobodas gave the names to contemporary streets and lanes: Ovchinnikovsky lane, Kosachiy ("Cossack") lane and others.

Zamoskvorechiye began to change rapidly in the late 18th century, when Vodootvodny ("Drainage") channel was constructed. Since that merchants began to build their mansions here; for a very short time they managed to set up quite a new district with a peculiar patriarchal spirit. Those of nobles who preferred solitude to sumptuous balls or those who had no money to live in the centre also settled here; for example, young Lev Tolstoy used to live on Pyatnitskaya street.

This area is composed of buildings of different types, both old and modern. There are also a lot of museums and churches in the area. Thanks to the flat topography and low building height, the Kremlin hill is clearly visible to the southern outskirts of the city. With a sharp bend of the river, from the coastal hills to the South-West and South-East of the Kremlin, it offers magnificent views. The significant development that took place in this area up until 1917 contributed significantly to the erection of many a building in the area. After 1917, Zamoskvorechiye was very densely populated; all the old mansions and apartment houses were turned into communal apartments. Nationalized by the Soviet power, Zamoskvorechiye always had the glory of the industrial district. In the last decade of the 20th century extensive work on the restoration and reconstruction of the Zamoskvorechiye was done, with the aim of preserving and revitalizing the architectural appearance of the area.

Now many Russian banks have their headquarters here and there are some great new residential buildings in this area. A number of cultural attractions are located here, including the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery.

The Embankment of Moscow River
In 1783, when the spring tide caused damage to Bolshoi Kamenny bridge ("Great Stone bridge"), Moscow River was drawn aside its bed to the specially constructed channel to repair the piers of the bridge. This event gave birth to one of the most picturesque sites of Zamoskvorechiye - the island between Moscow River and Vodootvodny channel.

Crossing Moscow River via Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge ("Great Moscow River bridge"), we come to Bolotnaya ("Swamp") street. To the left there is Balchug street; its name comes from the Tatar "balchuk", which stands for "mud". It was really muddy here till Vodootvodny channel drained the surrounding swamps.

The popularity of this place rose steeply in 1552, when under Ivan the Terrible the first "kabak" (Russian equivalent of what we now call "pub") in Moscow was opened here. "Kabak" also functioned as a pawn-shop, and alcohol-lovers here had a unique opportunity to drink away not only their money but even clothes.

Times passed, the street became dryer and, as a result, much more prestigious. In 1898 sumptuous Balchug Hotel was built here to become the main site of contemporary Balchug street.

Sophiiskaya embankment lies between two bridges: Bolshoi Kamenny and Bolshoi Moskvoretsky; it got its name from the Church of St. Sophia dated late 17th century. Placed right opposite the Kremlin, it provides a brilliant view of its churches and towers.

Bolotnaya square (literally "swampy square") earlier was called simply Boloto ("Swamp") due to the regular floods occurring here. In winter it used to be covered with ice; in the 16-17th centuries fisticuffs were held here. Fisticuffs were a very special affair of pre-revolutionary Russia: neither a sport affair, nor they were aimed to harm anyone. It was simply a way to relieve the stress and "relax" for the mighty Russian men. Sometimes even tsars came to Boloto to observe the daring fighters. In the 17th century the square was drained; here in 1775 Yemelian Pugachev, the head of anti-tsarist rebellion, was executed. Now the best sight of the square is the monument to Repin, the famous Russian artist.

Across the road, on Serafimovicha street, there is more than huge house No 2, designed in 1928 by Boris Iofan. It consists of several residential parts (totally 24 porches with 5050 flats), also houses food store, Estrada Theatre and Udarnik Cinema. Here lived Members of Soviet Government, marshals, admirals and other members of the Soviet elite. It is hard to say whether they were happy to live here: all flats were furnished with absolutely identical state furniture; all the phones were tapped. 1930s was the time of troubles for this house: most of its inhabitants became victims of Stalinist repressions. The walls of this house carry more than 20 memorial plaques: more than anywhere in Moscow.

"House on Embankment", as Yury Trifonov called house No 2 in his book of the same name, still has many secrets. For example, porch No 11 had been always closed and it is known that there is not a single flat in it. The purpose of this porch remains a thrilling mystery.

Right near the "House on Embankment" the Chambers of Averiky Kirillov look tiny and not so impressive; it is a rather beautiful Old-Russian Style building though it also has its bloody history: in the 16th century Maluta Skuratov, the most dreadful executioner Russia ever knew, lived here. In the 20th century large underground rooms with various torture devices were found nearby; historians believe that they also belonged to Skuratov. Near the chambers there is the Church of St. Nicolas the Miracle Worker on Bersenevskaya embankment built in the same style with the chambers.

Bolshaya Ordynka
It was long ago, in the 14th century, when Prince Ivan Kalita began to unite the principalities of former Kievian Rus, conquered by Mongols, under his dominion. He got a right to gather the tribute himself, not accompanied by Mongol tribute-collectors. That time the road to South appeared to convey the gathered goods to Golden Horde ("orda" in Russian).

Now only the name Ordynka reminds us of those severe times when this street was the main road to the Mongol capital. Poorly settled in medieval times, in the 17th-19th centuries it was rapidly occupied by rich merchants and nobles, who didn't want or had no money to live on the other side of Moscow River.

The first remarkable sight on the street is the Church of Resurrection in Kadashi. Five green onion domes of this Baroque building are visible from all over the neighbourhood. Presumably designed by Sergey Turchaninov in 1678, it presents a very special style of church building, rarely seen in Moscow and more widely presented in Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod. Airiness and grace of the church are related with Western Gothic, although here this spirit is created by quite different technique. This church, along with neighbouring Kadashevskaya bell tower of the same style, was paid for by rich merchants Kondraty and Longin Dobryniny who lived somewhere nearby. Now the building houses All-Russian art and restoration centre.

Church of the Consolation of all Sorrows was paid for by Dolgovy, another rich merchant family, who lived in the opposite Neo-Classical mansion dated 1770. Dolgov's son-in-law, architect Vasily Bazhenov, designed the belfry and the church itself in 1787; later, in 1833, it was reconstructed in Empire style by Osip Bove, a chief architect of Moscow reconstruction after the fire of 1812. Yellow round church surprises with its rather "civil" architecture: its facade brilliantly suites any noble's mansion. The belfry and refectory remained unchanged since the late 18th century: in Soviet time it was under the patronage of Tretyakov Gallery, and its staff did their best to preserve the church.

Passing through Bolshoi Tolmachevky lane you will come to Tretyakov Gallery. The gallery was gifted to Moscow and Muscovites by wealthy merchant Pavel Tretyakov; it still remains the largest collection of Russian art. Close to the gallery stands the Church of St. Nikolay in Tolmachi, where Pavel Tretyakov's funeral service was held.

The house No 34 hosts several buildings of Marfo-Mariinskaya Cloister. The main sight here is the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God. It looks extremely old and reminds medieval churches with their mighty walls and black domes. In fact it was built in 1908 by Alexey Shchusev.

The church was donated by the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fedorovna, sister of Empress Alexandra. After her husband was assassinated on the Senatskaya square of the Kremlin in 1905, she became abbess of Marfo-Mariinskaya Cloister. She spent all her life and money for charity and had an indisputable authority over all the Muscovites. But Bolsheviks didn't take it into consideration: in 1918 she was murdered. Along with many other relatives of tsar's family, Elizaveta Fedorovna was blindfolded, thrown into a mine and bombarded with grenades. In 1992 she was canonized by Russian Orthodox Church.

Malaya Ordynka
The unpretentious wooden house on Malaya Ordynka street hosts the Museum of Ostrovsky. Nikolay Ostrovsky, the famous Russian playwright, was born here in 1823. As he was the first writer to depict a unique spirit of this region beyond the Moscow River, he was often called "Columbus of Zamoskvorechiye".

Right opposite the Museum of Ostrovsky there is the Church of St. Nikolay in Pyzhy. It was constructed in 1670-1672 for Streltsy regiment headed by Bogdan Pyzhov; Streltsy themselves provided funds for construction. The church is lavishly decorated and the domes are covered with pure silver. The church's slender bell tower is one of the most beautiful ones in the city.

Pyatnitskaya
Pyatnitskaya street appeared in the early 16th century, when the Kremlin was enlarged and a new bridge over Moscow River was built. Part of the old road to Ryazan, Pyatnitskaya was named after the Church of Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, which was formerly located at the place of contemporary hall of "Novokuznetskaya" metro station.

The Church of Ioann Predtecha pod Borom (literally "John the Baptist under the Pine Forest") at the corner of Pyatnitskaya street and Chernigovsky lane is the oldest building on the street. It was built by Aleviz Fryazin (his full name is Alvizo Lamberty da Montagniaco) in 1514. The name of this Italian architect is mentioned in chronicles extremely often: for example, only in 1514 he managed to erect about fifteen various buildings: this pretends to an absolute record in architecture.

Across the Chernigovsky lane there are two more attractive buildings: the Church of Mikhail and Fedor Chernigovskiye and 17th-century chambers. The Church of St. Clement the Pope, designed is an unusual example of the so-called "Elizabethan" baroque style. This five-domed red church was built in 1774 in honour of Elizabeth Petrovna's enthronement by Bestuzhev-Rumin, Russian chancellor and one of tsarina's favourites.
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