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   Wednesday
   October 21
 Survival Guide
Kitai-Gorod
"Kitai" in Russian means "China", but Kitai-Gorod is not China-town! There are several theories explaining the origin of this name: according to the most popular one the word "kita" in Old Russian meant a "fence" and this area was in fact surrounded by a big wall; another theory claims that Italian builders brought the word "citta"("city") to Moscow. People started to settle here already in the 11th century. By the 14th century it was an area densely populated by craftsmen and merchants. In order to protect people of the Kremlin and Kitai-Gorod from Tatar and Lithuanian invaders Elena Glinskaya, mother of Ivan the Terrible, decided to dig a moat around the district. Later the moat was replaced by a big stone wall which was constructed in 1538 and destroyed in Soviet time. Inside the walls numerous shops, stores and markets appeared; thus Kitai-Gorod turned into a very important business and trading centre. Three main streets of Kitai-Gorod (Nikolskaya, Ilyinka and Varvarka) split duties a long time ago.

Nikolskaya
Nikolskaya street may be called the "Place of Enlightenment". It was the location of countless bookshops and "residence" of famous second-hand booksellers where you could find everything from an ancient manuscript to a recent edition of some famous writer. And it was not by accident: in 1564 the first ever Russian printed book "Apostol" came into the world here, in the first ever Russian printing-house run by Ivan Fedorov. A monument to Fedorov is located in Teatralny passage. Later the Institute of History and Archives was built on the place of the first printing-house; in its ornamentation it is still possible to detect motives typical for the old printing-house.

The first Russian high school opened on Nikolskaya street in 1687. Students of Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy could find any book on Nikolskaya and could study diligently. Greeks were professors of the academy and they raised future "father of Russian science" and founder of the Moscow State University - Mikhail Lomonosov.

The shortest street in Moscow, Tretyakovsky passage, embellished by a beautiful arc in Russian style, connects Nikolskaya street and Teatralny passage. Today it is a centre point of the fanciest and most expensive boutiques.

Ilyinka
The central street of Kitai-Gorod, Ilyinka, has always been a commercial street. First it was the location of the biggest Moscow market that offered wide range of products; that is well seen in the names of local lanes (Rybny lane ("Fish lane"), Khrustalny lane ("Crystal lane"), Vetoshny lane ("Old Clothes lane"). In the 19th century Ilyinka also became a business centre when biggest banks in Russia and Moscow Stock-Exchange ("Birzha") opened here. Today the imposing Classical-style building of Birzha houses the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In the beginning of Ilyinka there is one of the most important trading centres in Moscow - Gostiny Dvor. The word "gost" ("guest") used to have the meaning "merchant" and Gostiny Dvor, sumptuous creation of architect Giacomo Kvarengi, gathered hundreds of representatives of this profession.

Varvarka
The street was named after the Church of St. Varvara, the patroness of trade. The church stands in the very beginning of Varvarka since the 16th century. Imperishable relics of St. Varvara were said to cure people for serious diseases. Another famous Church of Maxim the Blessed was built in the 17th century and is known as "Moscow Pisa Tower" due to its sloping walls. Russia has always treated the so-called "blessed" people with a special care as they were believed to be able to prophesy.

One of the oldest civil stone buildings in Moscow is situated on Varvarka - it is the Old English Court. It was built in the 15-16th centuries by merchant Bobrishchev who was actively trading with Britain. Ivan the Terrible presented the chambers to British merchants but after 100 years of owning this house they were forced to leave it: Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich was filled with indignation by the execution of Karl I in England and ordered to deport British merchants.

In the 16th century house No 10 belonged to boyar Nikita Romanovich Zakharyin-Yuriev, grandfather of the first Russian Tsar of Romanov dynasty - Mikhail Romanov. This family also owned Znamensky monastery; Znamensky cathedral has preserved to our days.

Other famous streets of Kitai-Gorod area are Pokrovka, Maroseika and Solyanka.

Pokrovka
Pokrovka street crosses the boulevard ring between Chistoprudny and Pokrovsky boulevards. At first Pokrovka was a small countryside road with the river Rachka, which was constantly bursting its banks and leaving everywhere a lot of mud and silt. This unattractive road led to Rubtsovo and Izmailovo, favourite estates of many Russian tsars, and later many grandees from the tsars' retinue settled here. Obliging noblemen tried to make royal trips as pleasant as possible, that is why Pokrovka was "ennobled", the road was paved and new beautiful houses were built. In the end of the 19th century noblemen were ousted by merchants, and countless shops and little markets flooded the area. When Kursky railway station was opened in 1860s, Pokrovka street became cluttered with cheap hotels, inns and workshops.

Some signs of Pokrovka's "noble" past are preserved till now. Magnificent blue-white palace, often called "the chest of drawers" is a rare sample of Elizabethan baroque designed by architect Ukhtomsky. A legend tells that Alexander Pushkin used to take dancing classes this very building, which by then belonged to his relatives Trubetskiye. In 1861 a gymnasium opened here; it brought up such outstanding students as the father of modern theatre Konstantin Stanislavsky and the founder of Soviet aviation Nikolay Zhukovsky.

Maly Kazenny lane, once famous for a hospital for the poor, runs parallel to Pokrovka street. Here in the middle of the 19th century doctor F. Gaaz, "the holy doctor", helped hundreds of people in need. Gaaz was also the head doctor of Moscow prisons, and criminals adored him for his love of people and kindness to outcasts. His motto "Don't be late to do good" is written on the monument to this great person.

Maroseika
Pokrovka originally was longer, but in the 17th century it was divided into two parts, one of them kept the old name, the other became Maroseika street. Actually it was called Malorosseika (Malorossiya is an old designation for the Ukraine), but later the name changed a little bit. The Ukraine joined Russia in 1654 and many Ukrainians migrated to the new capital. They were (and still are) humorously called "khokhly" ("tufts of hair") due to their extravagant haircuts: they used to shave heads leaving a long tuft of hair on the top. Local street names still remind us about them: Khokhlovskaya square, Khokhlovsky lane, Church of Trinity in Khokhlovka. Ukrainian commanders, hetmans, used to stay in Maroseika during their visits.

Embassy of another neighbouring country, Byelorussia, occupies magnificent palace with beautiful stucco mouldings and sumptuous interiors. It was built in 1780-1796 after a project by Vasily Bazhenov for field-marshal Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, hero of Russian-Turkish war. Across the street, right opposite the Bazhenov's palace, there is the Church of Kozma and Damian by Kozakov. Another church stands in the beginning of Maroseika, the Church of St. Nikolay in Blinniki. Its name has a rather appetizing story: once the smell of pancakes spread around the neighbourhood making people's stomachs rumble, as pancakes-sellers came here with their tasty goods ("bliny" means "pancakes"). This traditional Russian food gave the name Blinniki to the area and later to the church.

While walking along Maroseika check Starosadsky lane with the magnificent Ivanovsky convent. Lost in Moscow courtyards, it was founded in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible's mother Elena Glinskaya. This convent served not only as a shelter for nuns, but also as a prison. It remembers mysterious Princess Tarakanova, claimed to be the daughter of Tsarina Elizabeth and Count Razumovsky. Tsarina Catherine the Great regarded her as a threat to own power and kept Princess Tarakanova in solitary confinement for many years.

Another famous prisoner of this convent was Darya Saltykova. This serf owner showed incredible "creativity", making up new kinds of tortures for her serfs. In the 20th century this prison tradition was carried on, this time the CheKa brought here its victims.

The Maroseika area is the one to keep in mind while choosing the apartment. Despite its proximity to the city center and being dominated by offices and retail stores, this district is surprisingly quiet and very convenient. Most of the apartments in this area are spacious and have high ceilings.

Solyanka
Once Solyanka laid among beautiful royal gardens, but the growing city had no mercy for those green plantations. Houses supplanted trees, exhaust replaced oxygen and fresh air, and quiet countryside road became a busy city street. The name Solyanka literally means "Salty Street", and it was the "saltiest" street indeed: many salt warehouses were located here.

Not only gastronomically important objects were found in Solyanka. House No 14 was once occupied by the Board of Guardians; orphanages, hospitals, almshouses, and banks in Russia were under its jurisdiction. Sumptuous and monumental, the building is a marvellous sample of Moscow Empire Style, built by architects Gilardi and Grigoriev. Today it houses the Academy of Medical Science.

One of the foundling hospitals, managed by Board of Guardians, was once in the next house. It was established in 1763 with special permission of Her Majesty Catherine the Great. Children-orphans studied different subjects, reading, writing, drawing, later some of them were sent to work in workshops and factories; others continued their academic carrier in university, Academy of art, medical schools; most talented ones were sent to study abroad. The motto of this institution is depicted in two allegorical figures, guarding the entrance, "Charity" and "Education".

Kitai-Gorod adjoins the Taganka area.

Taganka
The district "Taganka" is located between the rivers: Moscow and Yauza. In 1632, this settlement combined 93 courts. But the street Taganskaya itself has an earlier origin - from the 14th century. It was a part of the road to Kolomna, Ryazan and other cities. After a fire in 1812, many large and beautiful stone houses were built along the street. Some of these houses were converted to factories by their owners. In 1867, more than 60% of the houses belonged to merchants, some of whom were at the time already bestowed the title of honorary citizen. Taganka acquired industrial features and the first decade of the 20th century finally turned Taganka into one of the largest industrial areas of Moscow. Although, by that time, the inhabitants there were no longer merchants, but the working class. After the revolution, the area was called "the Proletarian" up until 1936, when it was named "Taganskaya".
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