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Moscow Metro Tour

Central Moscow Tour- in four parts with map:
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Puskin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Puskinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back

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Central Moscow Tour

Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad

From the front of the Marriott Royal Hotel, walk cross Petrovka Ulitsa and turn left. Walk to the corner of Petrovsky Linii, turn right and pass in front of the Hotel Budapest. Continue on Petrovsky Linii and walk to the corner. Turn left onto Neglinnaya Street, whose steep slope on the right is a reminder of the river that since 1805 has been piped underground. Walk one short block, and turn right at Zvonarsky Pereulok.

Stop number 1
This is the entrance to Sandunovsky Baths or Sandunovskaya Banya.The original bath house was built by actor Sila Sandunov (1756-1820) and his wife, actress Elizaveta Uranova, in 1808. Sandunov started his career as a clerk. On the path to becoming a good bureaucrat, he inherited several bath houses, taverns and shops when his father and grandfather both died when he was fifteen. Then while working to become a successful businessman, a friend introduced him to the theater, and it became his passion. So he become an actor instead. On the stage, he met his future wife who was being wooed by some noble in the court. Tsarina Elizaveta (1709-1761) encouraged the lovers and gave them permission to marry. Rewarded later with a piece of land near the Neglinnaya River, Sandunov and his wife built shops and living quarters. Then when the river was diverted underground in 1805, on the new land, they built a bathhouse. It achieved great popularity because it was the first to offer separate quarters for men and woman, assuring the privacy of noble families who even brought their lap dogs to the banya. Unfortunately, fame and fortune, did not bring them happiness and the two parted ways with the court giving Elizaveta Uranova the baths. But by then the name Sandunovsky had already stuck.

In the late 19th century the new owner, Aleksandr Gonetsky tore down the old building. Boris Freidenberg, the architect, replaced it in 1896 with the current three-story structure whose decorative Beaux Arts facade and eclectic interior is a mix of Baroque, Gothic and Moorish styles. Many famous persons came here to bathe amidst the porcelain walls, marble swimming pools, bronze water nymphs and rococo decorations. The baths can accommodate up to 2000 patrons per day. Men and women have separate sections and there are both first and second class quarters, the former having been restored to their previous splendor. It is possible to rent all the necessary items: footwear, woolen head covering, fresh birch twigs, clean sheets and towels. And various refreshments are also available for purchase. (Open daily except Tues. 8 a.m. - 10 p.m., Tel.: 925 46 31)

Return to Neglinnaya Street and turn left.

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Stop number 2
The Moscow Arts Center at number 14 Neglinnaya Street is open daily from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Tel.: 924 88 72.) They often have interesting art exhibits of works on tour from other Russian museums.

Stop number 3
The large building in the next block with the willow trees out front is the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. Founded on July 13, 1990, on the basis of the Russian Republic Bank of the State Bank of the U.S.S.R. and accountable to the Supreme Soviet of the R.S.F.S.R., it was originally called the State Bank of the R.S.F.S.R. Reportedly the long-term goals of the bank include the continuation of banking sector reform in Russia including enhancing stability of the banking system, improving the banking sector's performance in accumulating household savings and corporate funds and transforming them into loans and investments, and preventing the use of credit institutions for unfair commercial purposes.

Konstantin Bykovsky (1841-1906) originally reconstructed part of the current building in 1890-1894. That building replaced gardens that had been planted on the steep slope of the banks of the Neglinnaya River. Late Renaissance and Baroque styles are used while the sculptured ornamentation is the work of Opekushin, the designer of the Pushkin Square statue. In 1927-1929 the wings were added by Ivan Zholtovsky (1867-1959) whose use of Italian Classical forms probably relates to his time spent studying there. (12 Neglinnaya Street)

Look across the street.

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Stop number 4
At number 11 Neglinnaya Street is Petrovsky Passazh (arcade), a well-known two-story mall that was built in 1906 by the architect S. M. Kalugin. The mall is roofed in glass and steel and was constructed to connect Petrovka and Neglinnaya Streets, two streets in a fashionable shopping district. Specially designed bridges connect the upper level galleries.

The bas-relief Worker, designed by the architect Manizer, fixed to the building's facade in 1921, is a rare surviving example of Lenin's 1920 plan for "Sculptural Propaganda." In the early 1930s the 'Airship-building' Trust, which worked on designs for the first Soviet dirigibles, was to be found in the second row of the arcade. In the late 1980s the building was restored by Turkish contractors, and today it is a branch of Ts.U.M. with elegant boutiques and shops. (Open daily Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.)

Continue along Neglinnaya Street.

Stop number 5
Pass Kuznetsky Most whose name derives from the former bridge over the Neglinnaya River. From the late 15th century, the blacksmiths (kuznetsy) who gave the bridge its name would come over the bridge every day on their way to Cannon Courtyard, which at that time was the biggest metal working business in Moscow. Later Kuznetsky Bridge became a street of fashionable foreign shops. French traders settled in Moscow as long ago as the mid-18th century when Catherine the Great signed a decree regarding privileges for foreigners, and they selected Kuznetsky Bridge for their trading area. Before Napoleon's army entered Moscow, Count Rostopchin, the capital's commander-in-chief, closed the French shops on Kuznetsky Bridge. They suffered no damage in the great fire of 1812, since the French guard protected the property of their compatriots. In the early 19th century Cannon Courtyard was taken down. About the same time the Neglinnaya River was piped underground, and the bridge was removed. After the Great Patriotic War, foreign trade in Moscow flourished as never before. French shops were still the best, although they were now joined by English, German and Italian businesses. This was a favorite place for the aristocracy to promenade and browse the elegant shops. The area has had its ups and downs over the years; now it is the airline companies, banks, book shops and appliance stores, along with the Moscow House of Artists exhibition hall at number 7, which draw the crowds.

Continue along Neglinnaya Street to Teatralni Proyezd.

Hotel Metropol
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Stop number 6
Directly across the street is the side of the Hotel Metropol built in 1899-1905 from a design by an Englishman, William Walcot (1874-1943) that was modified while under construction by a Russian, Lev Kekushev (1863-1919). This hotel represents one of the earliest examples of the Style-Moderne or Art Nouveau architecture. It was constructed in anticipation of the Romanov dynasty anniversary celebration of 1913 and was commissioned by the Petersburg Insurance Society to provide a luxury hotel that met international standards. The exterior walls have several interesting decorations including a large work in the great arch of the facade's center called "Day Dreaming Princess," seven panels above the fifth floor and a plaster frieze along the fourth floor with four inserts representing the seasons of the year. The building also has ornate wrought iron balconies and a painted glass roof over its huge rectangular restaurant, the Metropol Zal. Its interior is decorated with mosaics, stained glass and gilded chandeliers. In the 1980s the facade was restored to its original color. Today the hotel is operated by the Inter-Continental Hotel group.

Rasputin once had his headquarters here. This was also the site of many famous speeches by Lenin (1870-1924) and others. During the 1917 Revolution, it was the location of heavy fighting. For a short period time, the Central Committee of the Russian Soviet Federal Republic met here under its first chairman, Yakov Sverdlov (1885-1919.) (Tel.: 927 60 00) (Teatralni Proyezd 1/4)

Walk to the right on Teatralni Proyezd to see the front of the Hotel Metropol.

Stop number 7
This elegant square is named Theater Square because three of the surrounding buildings are theaters and several others are located nearby. Until the 19th century this was Petrovskaya Square, since it was traversed by Petrovka Street and the Royal Peter Theater sat on the site of the Bolshoi Theater. Briefly, it was known as Tsvetochnaya (Florist) Square, because the flower sellers did a roaring trade here. The modern name appeared in the 1820s when the architect Osip Bove (1784-1834) buried the Neglinnaya River, built the Bolshoi and Maly Theaters. Since 1919 it was known as Sverdlov Square after the first chairman of the Central Committee; recently the old name has been revived. During the 1930s modernization of Moscow Teatralni Proyezd was constructed and divided the area into two sections.

Originally this was marsh land adjacent to the Neglinnaya River. As part of the flood plain, the area was used as a rubbish dump by the well-to-do inhabitants within the Kitai Gorod walls. When the river was channeled underground during the post Napoleonic War reconstruction, this became a grassy square designed by Osip Bove. From 1839 through 1911 a military parade ground occupied part of the square. Today a large fountain graces the center of the plaza immediately in front of the theaters. Off to the left of Teatralni Proyezd is another fountain and a granite sculpture of Karl Marx 1818-1883) carved in 1961 that bears the words, "Workers of the World Unite!" On one side is written "His name will endure through the ages and so will his work" (Engels); and on the other "Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true" (Lenin).

Facing away from the Hotel Metropol, look to the building to the right of the square.

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Stop number 8
The light yellow, two-story building to the east (on the right) is the Maly Theater or Little Theater, which opened in 1824 although it traces its beginnings back to the theater at the Moscow University that began in 1757. Originally a private house with theater, its reconstruction work was done by Osip Bove, the main architect of Moscow's rebuilding after fire of 1812. There was another fire in 1841, after which the building was rebuilt to a design by Konstantin Thon (1794-1881). Following that, to prevent another conflagration, smoking was forbidden throughout the premises. The auditorium, with its four tiers sits over thousand patrons. The Maly's repertoire concentrates on the Russian classics, frequently history plays, with productions whose dramatic style is rarely ground-breaking.

A statue of the 19th century playwright, Aleksandr Ostrovsky (1823-1886), whose plays are often performed here, stands at the entrance. Great Russian actress Maria Yermolova (1853-1928) performed here for over five decades from the time of Ostrovsky through early Soviet days. She was the first person during Soviet times to receive the distinction of "People's artist." (Tel.: 923 26 21) (1/6 Teatralnaya Ploshchad)

Turn and look at the building adjacent to the Maly Theater, but not really on Theater Square. Walk up Petrovka Street, past the Maly Theater.

Stop number 9
Ts.U.M., the Tsentralny Universalny Magazin or Central Department Store occupies the building designed for the Scottish Trading Company, Muir & Merrilees. Andrew Muir and Archibald Merrilees set up their company in St. Petersburg in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1880s the firm relocated to Moscow where they established a wholesale shop for ladies hats and dry goods at the corner of Kuznetsky Most, a very prestigious location. They opened their doors here at the foot of Petrovka Street in 1892, and quickly established themselves as 'the place' to go for goods of excellent quality. Their wares were in great demand throughout the country. Four times a year a free they made available a mail order catalog from Vladivostok to Warsaw (which was part of Russia until 1918). One evening in 1900 a fire broke out in the building, and the next morning all that remained were the still smoking walls. Moscow's first modern department store, Muir & Merrilees reopened in 1908 with Moscow's first elevator. After the Revolution, the company was nationalized and in 1922, it reopened under the name "Mostorg." It became a joint stock company in 1995 with plans to expand its retail selling space. Current plans, announced in 2001, are to add a parking structure along with a 24 hour supermarket and other shops on the adjacent property now occupied by Kalita strip mall.

Although the exterior is European Neo-Gothic, the construction by Roman Klein pioneered the use of reinforced concrete and curtain or suspended exterior walls. Strips of glass provided natural illumination and the interior was lit with electric lamps, an unusual feature at the time. A majestic angular tower with arch-shaped windows and triangular pediments, dominates the corner and both facades. The roof line with its pinnacles is interesting, and the large rose window on the southeast corner is unusual especially for a commercial building. (2 Petrovka Ulitsa)

Continue up Petrovka Ulitsa.

At the corner with Kuznetsky Most, the first Moscow traffic signal post was installed in 1924. It was a pillar with a big arrow that when placed horizontally would cut off the flow of traffic as needed. This same intersection was the location of the first Moscow traffic light, placed here in 1930 or 1931. Until 1947 a large hourse occupied site at the corner that is now a public graden and the Kalita shops.

Return to Theater Square.

Bolshoi Theater

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Stop number 10
One of the world's best known theaters, the current Bolshoi Theater was constructed on the site of several earlier theaters. In 1780 the Royal Peter Theater stood at this location and presented masquerades, comedies and comic operas. This building burned in a fire in 1805 and was not rebuilt. After the fire of 1812, during the reconstruction of Moscow, Osip Bove built in 1824-5 a classical style theater for opera and ballet performance. Destroyed during another fire in 1850s, the current Bolshoi Theater was rebuilt by Albert Kavos (1801 1863) a few years later. While it retains some features from the original "Bove" Bolshoi, the present building is more eclectic in design.

Look up to see "Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun," a sculpture from Bove's original design. Apollo, the Greek god of music and light, is portrayed driving his chariot that carried the sun across the sky. Just below in the pediment is a relief that depicts a pair of angels carrying the lyre of Apollo, patron of the arts. Eight Ionic columns, also from the 1825 design, hold up the portico, beyond which is the black and white tiled vestibule with its white marble staircases. The main lobby extends around the entire front of the first floor and is decorated with paintings and elaborate stucco work. The auditorium has a seating capacity of over 2,000 and tiers of gilded boxes whose chairs are all covered with plush red velvet. The ceiling is decorated with ten panels illustrating Apollo dancing with the nine Greek muses of the arts and sciences. Hanging from the ceiling is a chandelier made of 13,000 pieces of cut glass. While the theater is closed for performances during the summer, there is a small museum whose exhibits might be worth visiting. The building is scheduled to undergo extensive reconstruction in the coming years. (Tel.: 927 69 82) (1 Teatralnaya Ploshchad)

Look to the left of the Bolshoi Theater.

This building is now the home of the Central Children's Theater. Also called the Russian Academic Youth Theater, it was formed in 1921. It took on its present function in 1936, after serving as a branch of the Bolshoi, Maly and Moscow Arts Theaters. Originally designed as part of the theater square ensemble planned by Osip Bove, the building was almost completely rebuilt in 1882. (2 Teatralnaya Ploshchad) (Tel.: 292 00 69)

Walk towards Karl Marx and the fountain.

Ploshchad Revolutsii, named in memory of the bitter fighting that occurred here in October 1917, occupies the large open area. Part of the old Kitai Gorod wall can be seen here beyond the Hotel Metropol. Today lots of shops, kiosks and cafes line the street, which is being transformed into a pedestrian zone.

Turn to the right and walk past the metro station entrance to the building on the far left.

Central Lenin Museum

Stop number 11
The red brick Central Lenin Museum was designed by Dmitri Chichagov (1836-1894). This building successfully combines many old Russian decorative elements including ogee shapes, pendants and fat pilasters, in its Russian revival facade. Note the porch with its ogee-shaped niche that originally contained St. George and the dragon, but was replaced during Soviet times with a worker. Completed in 1892, this was the home of the the Moscow Duma or City Hall until the Soviet Revolution. Then in 1936, its halls were converted into Russia's largest Lenin Museum. Every major Russian city and town has its own Lenin Museum, but this is the granddaddy of them all, containing over 13,000 pieces of information about Lenin, every detail of his life, his activities, and his struggles to create the Communist Party. Closed now, it is uncertain what will become of the contents and the building itself. (4 Ploshchad Revolutsii)

Instead of continuing to enter Manezh Square, walk back toward the Ploshchad Revolutsii metro entrance. Turn left at the end of the Hotel Moskva.

At the next corner of the hotel is a busy street known as Okhotny Ryad or Hunter's Row. Years ago this street led to a popular hunting area in the countryside. Early in Moscow's history, local markets, taverns and tea houses expanded into this area just outside the Kitai Gorod and Kremlin Walls. Then, during the modernization of Moscow in the 1930s, the section of the city was swept clean of many older buildings.

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Stop number 12
At the corner of Okhotny Ryad and Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street is the House of Unions or Dom Soyuzov. Originally this was the site of Prince Vasily Dolgorukov's mansion built in the first half of the 18th century (the prince was related the to the original Dolgoruky family). Purchased by a group of noblemen, it was redesigned and expanded in Russian classical style as the Moscow Nobleman's Assembly by Matvei Kazakov in 1784. Greatly damaged in the 1812 fire, it was rebuilt by a student of Kazakov's and then altered significantly again in 1903 when the third story was added.

Several rooms, including the grand ballroom, were added during the Kazakov renovation. Most notably and relatively well-preserved is the large, all wood, gold and white ballroom. Called the Hall of Columns for its twenty-eight white artificial marble Corinthian columns, it has been the site of many important events. In 1856 Tsar Aleksandr II (1818-1881) told the Russian nobility of his desire to the free the serfs. In 1919 Lenin passed the building to the unions. Over a million Russians filed by to pay their respects to Lenin in 1924. Then in 1931 George Bernard Shaw celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday here. Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) lay in state here as well. Today the space is sometimes used for concerts. (1 Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street)

Walk along Okhotny Ryad.

Stop number 13
The somber, austere grey building next to the House of Unions has been the home of the Russian State Duma or Lower Chamber of the Russian Parliament since 1934. It was built during the 1930s after the shops, churches and homes along Okhotny Ryad were removed in preparation for the transformation of Moscow. A broad avenue was planned to connect the Palace of Soviets to be constructed on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer and Lubyanka Square. Karl Marx was located in the square just passed and Friedrich Engels stands in a small park at the other end of the street, near where the Palace of Soviets was to be located. Built in Stalin Monumental Style, this was the site of the Soviet administrative agency. Initially it was called the Council of Labor and Defense, later the Concil of People's Commissants and finally Gosplan or the State Planning Commission. But despite the name changes, all served the same purpose: to oversee the Soviet economy. The low ten story building was designed to be more horizontal than vertical. Its massive façade serves to remind of the centralized administrative culture of Soviet times.

To continue this walk, proceed around to the plaza and the front of the Hotel Metropol for the best view or there are several metro stops nearby including Okhotny Ryad on the red line, Teatralnaya on the green line and Ploshchad Revolutsii on the dark blue line.

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End of Part One. To continue take Part Two.
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Puskin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Puskinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back

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last revised 07 Mar 04 © 2003-2011 Ruth E. Imershein
The information contained on these pages is intended to assist in making travel plans but things change, mistakes can be made.
Please do not depend entirely on this information when making your decisions.

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