Central Moscow Tour - part three
Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Puskin Square
From Manezh Ploshchad, walk up Tverskaya Street. It is easiest to start out on the side of the street opposite the National Hotel.
Stop number 23
On the right, the Intourist Hotel provided typical Soviet tourist lodging at number 3 Tverskaya Street. Previously on this lot stood an aging skyscraper twenty-two stories high. Its lobby and many of its rooms had not been redecorated since the place opened in 1970. Demolition began in 2002 and there are plans to replace it with a new five star hotel.
Stop number 24
Named after the famous Russian actress who often performed at the Maly Theater, the Yermolova Drama Theater moved into its present building at number 5 Tverskaya in 1946. Prior to that this space was occupied by other theater groups.
Peer through the huge archway over Georgievsky Pereulok.
Stop number 25
Through the fence behind the grey State Duma building, best seen if you walk down the street a ways, is the former palace of Boyar Fyodor Troyekurov built in the late 17th century. The only survivor of its kind, this town house shows some Western influences. Although of noble birth and high rank (he was a lord of the bed chamber for Peter the Great), Troyekurov lacked the financial resources to build a house on par with his wealthy neighbors, Prince Matvei Gagarin or Prince Vasily Golitsyn. Peter the Great solved the problem for him by appointing Troyekurov to supervise the construction of the Sukharev Tower, thus providing sufficient brick for this house. (The Sukharev Tower was torn down by Stalin in the 1930s.) The palaces belonging to Golitsyn and Gagarin were razed to make way for the State Planning Commission building (now the State Duma), while this building served as reception quarters during Soviet times.
If you walk down Georgievsky Pereulok, at the corner with Bolshaya Dmitrovka, on the left, is the site of the former St. George monastery first mentioned in 1493. The two churches were destroyed in 1935 and in their place were built a school and a courtyard. In 1887-1888, on the grounds of the monastery, a power station was constructed and an showroom at which were displayed the modern prototype of radio and television in 1901. In 1905 the latter was converted into a garage and it remained that during Soviet times. Today this is again exhibition space with restaurants and is known as Maly Manezh. (3 Georgievsky Pereulok) (Tel.: 292 44 59)
Look back or walk back across Tverskaya Street.
Stop number 26
At the corner with Gazetny Pereulok, at number 7 Tverskaya is the Central Telegraph Office, constructed in 1926-1927 by Ivan Rerberg (1869-1932). At a time when more modern and innovative designs were promulgated, the choice of this rather bland, gray stone neo-classical building for a prime location suggests something about the direction of Soviet architecture. Above the massive corner entrance is the only interesting feature, a large, illuminated, revolving globe topped with a more recent addition, a gigantic digital clock. Inside stamps can be bought, faxes sent, overseas telephone calls made or money exchanged twenty-four hours a day. Usually there is at least one attendant with some knowledge of English on duty.
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Continue along Tverskaya and turn right onto Kamergersky Pereulok. It was named in the 18th century after the rank of its owner, Streshnev who was a gentleman-in-attendance or kamerger.
Stop number 27
Led by directors Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863-1938) and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko (1859-1943), the Moscow Arts Theater opened here with its first performance in 1898. After early success with Anton Chekhov's play, The Seagull, the bird was chosen as the theater's symbol. The Art Nouveau architect Fyodor Shekhtel (1859-1926) completely remodeled the building's interior in 1902, adding such innovative features as a central lighting board and revolving stage and decorative details such as stenciling, wainscotting and woodwork in the lobbies and auditorium. However, little ornamentation adorned the stage so that the patrons would be forced to focus their attention on the performance. There were plans to renovate the exterior as well, but financial restrictions limited those changes to hanging lanterns, ground floor windows and the stylized seagull that is the theater's symbol. Decorating the right entrance, is the most dramatic element of Shekhtel's design, a bas-relief entitled Wave, framed with Abramtsevo tile and a sculptured frieze.Abramtsevo is a village about 60 kilometers northeast of Moscow. In the mid 19th century it was a literary mecca centered around the Russian writer Sergei Aksakov (1791-1859), whose sons were leaders in the Slavophile movement. Slavophiles included rigidly Orthodox Russians, who championed native Russian customs and believed that they should remain untainted by foreign influences. Their ideological counterparts were the Westernizers, who urged Russians to better their lives by incorporating the best aspects of European culture. Those who gathered here included writers Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), Ivan Turgenev (1813-1883) and other intellectuals of the day. In the second half of the century, it became a cultural center under the aegis of Savva Mamontov (1841-1918), a railway tycoon, industrialist and art patron. An artists' colony was established to reexamine traditional Russian folk art and craft work. A number of well-known craftsmen worked here and tried their hand at various forms of artistic expression, woodworking, ceramics, painted majolica, architecture.
Return to Tverskaya and turn right, away from the Kremlin. Walk through an archway in the middle of the block.
Stop number 27a
On the right side of the street when heading toward the Kremlin, in the middle of the block that is number 6 Tverskaya is the narrow entrance to a courtyard. The building along Tverskaya is a Stalin apartment building constructed during the 1930s as part of the revitalization of Moscow. Included into the apartment buildings was the Hotel Dresden where dramatist, Aleksandr Ostrovsky died in May 1886 several days after moving here. This hotel was one of the most famous in preRevolutionary Moscow and many well known persons passed a night there. In the courtyard is the former city residence of the Savva Storozhevsky Monastery of Zvenigorod. Completed in 1907, the building was designed by Ivan S. Kuznetsov to provide office space for the monastery and to accommodate visiting monks. The architect borrowed several elements of 17th century Russian architecture, adapting the teremok design. Note the fortress-like appearance of this tall building decorated with colorful ceramic tiles, sculptured ornaments and nicely worked windows and doors.
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Walk back to Tverskaya and cross the street. Turn left at the granite archway.
Stop number 28
This narrow lane, Bryusov Pereulok, is named after James Daniel Bruce (Yakov Villimovich Bryusov) (1669-1735), son of William Bruce, a Scottish soldier of fortune. Foreign trained, the younger Bruce joined Peter the Great in 1683 and spent his life working on projects with the tsar including establishing the first observatory in Russia, serving as President of the College of Mines and Manufacturing in St. Petersburg, and taking charge of the Moscow print shop and St. Petersburg mint. He also had a reputation for scientific inquiry and experimentation. A drinking buddy and member of Peter's "Jolly Companions," Bryusov also performed well on military campaigns, earning the rank of Field Marshall, and on diplomatic missions. Strongly affected by Peter's death, Bryusov asked to be relieved from service and retired here in Moscow where he built a one-story home near where this lane ends on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street. During the Soviet era, the street was renamed after Bolshoi singer A. Nezhdanova. At that time, many of the resident's of this area were employed by the nearby theaters and the Composers' Union was located at number 8 10.
Stop number 29
A small museum devoted to director Vsevolod Meyerhold is located in a Constructivist apartment block at number 12 Bryusovsky Pereulok, Apt. 11. Meyerhold (1874-1940), who left law school to study acting, became a director in 1908 and was one of the world leaders of avant-garde theater until his arrest and murder in prison in 1940. (Open daily except Mon. and Tues. Noon - 5 p.m., Tel.: 229 53 22.)
Continue along Bryusov Lane.
Stop number 30
Halfway along Bryusov Lane, at the intersection with Yeliseyevsky Pereulok, stands the single-domed, terracotta and white Church of the Resurrection. It is said that Mikhail Romanov welcomed his father's return home from exile in Poland at this spot in 1619. The first church burned, but the current stone building dates from 1629, although many of the original features are hidden under a 19th century remodeling. The refectory and bell tower were added in the 1820s. One of the few churches to remain open during Soviet times, it was the recipient of many icons from surrounding churches and monasteries that were closed or destroyed. In the passageway between the two chapels is a late 16th century copy of the Virgin of Kazan, encased in a silver frame. The original is believed to have helped the Russians oust the Polish invaders in 1613. On the opposite side is an icon of St. George, which breaks Russian tradition by not depicting the patron of Moscow fighting a dragon on horseback or as a warrior brandishing a sword. Painted in the 17th century, the style is not typical of Russian art work and the artist may have been Western. Legend tells that the crucifix in the iconostasis was carved by a blind man who regained his sight when he completed the task. The ceiling is also noteworthy.
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Return to Tverskaya Ulitsa and turn left.
Stop number 31
The four-story red and white building is the Moscow Mayor's Office. Catherine the Great rewarded Zakhar G. Chernyshev (1722-1784) with the post of Moscow's Governor General for his victories in the 1760 Russo-Prussian war. Not knowing what to do with the bricks from the Bely Gorod wall, Chernyshev is said to have ordered the construction of this red and white building. Thought to have been designed and modified twice by Matvei Kazakov, first in 1782 and later in 1791, initially this was Chernishev's personal residence. After his death the building was either left to the city in his will or sold by his family to his successor as Governor, Yakov Bryusov (1732-1791). Subsequently, it became the official residence of all Moscow governors until 1917. During Soviet times it was the home of the Mossoviet, or Moscow City Council. Increase in the size of the bureaucracy resulted in an addition in the 1930s. Then in 1946 the two upper stories were added, and the original style was modified further by Dmitri N. Chechulin (1901-1981). At the same time the entire building was moved back fourteen meters. Today it is the office of the Mayor of Moscow.
Cross Tverskaya Street.
Stop number 32
This is Tverskaya Square with the statue of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky considered to the be founder of Moscow. Prince "Long Arm" has been sitting astride a horse with his arm outstretched since 1954, seven years after the 800th anniversary of the founding of Moscow. According to legend, the city was settled by Prince Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgoruky in 1147 when he chose his small palace here as the site in which to entertain Prince Sviatoslav of Novgorod. Dolgoruky established a village here as an outpost for his nearby kingdom, and by 1156 he had erected wooden walls around the present day site of the Kremlin according to the ancient chronicles.
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Stop number 33
The austere building at the far end of the square with the statue of Lenin out front is the archives of the Marx-Lenin Institute. Designed in 1927 by Sergei Chernishev (1881-1963), this early Soviet era building, with its unadorned pilaster strips dividing a facade of plain glass windows, is quite functional as compared to many later structures of Stalin's time that were designed to be more monumental.
Stop number 34
Also on the square is the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian on Shubin. Saints Cosmas and Damian were healers in Asia Minor, who were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Eventually they were beheaded by Diocletian in 287, but not before drowning, burning and stoning had all failed to kill them. Earliest mention of a church in this area dates back to 1368. In 1626 the wooden church of Saints Cosmas and Damian was destroyed by fire, and a new stone church was constructed. By the early 18th century this church had became somewhat dilapidated and plans were made to build a new church. Unfortunately, Peter the Great's edict prohibiting construction in stone beginning in 1714 delayed the start until 1722. Miraculously the church was neither pillaged nor damaged during the French occupation and subsequent fires. Some remodeling occurred in the 19th century. Then during Soviet times the bell tower was removed, and the church closed. Rededicated in 1991, there are plans to reconstruct the bell tower and add a parish house.
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Return to Tverskaya and turn right.
Stop number 35
At number 10 is the somewhat shabby Tsentralnaya Hotel which was built in 1911 as the Hotel Luxe and during the 1930s served as a hostel for members of the Communist International when Stalin was beginning his purges. The famous 19th century Filippov bakery, known for its pastry and meat pies was located in this building. The story is told about the baker who served a nobleman a biscuit in which a cockroach was inadvertently baked. Called to explain the situation, the baker ate it claiming the insect was a raisin, then went back, bought raisins and duplicated the recipe with great success.
Walk along Tverskaya.
Stop number 36
On the left of the street at number 14 stands one of Moscow's most famous food shops, Yeliseyev's Emporium called Gastonom One in Soviet times. Originally here stood a late 18th century mansion attributed by Matvei Kazakov. Yeliseyev, a St. Petersburg purveyor of fine foods, bought the building at the end of the 1800s. He spent significant amounts of money to completely remodel the first floor of the building with crystal chandeliers, gilded interiors with stained glass and mirrors, carved pillars, polished wooden display cases before the grand opening two years later. Here, at "Yeliseyev's Shop and Cellars of Russian and Foreign Wines," Muscovites were introduced to exotic fruits such as bananas and coconuts. No longer carrying its generic name and a little run-down in appearance, today the store stocks a wide range of Russian and other imported delicacies.
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Stop number 37
The next major intersection is the Boulevard Ring whose next square used to be named for the Strastnoy Convent (Convent of the Lord's Passion) that stood outside the Bely Gorod walls once located nearby. Today the square is named for the Statue of Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), which was paid for by public donations and originally erected on the other side of Tverskaya Ulitsa in 1880. The plaza around Pushkin Square is a popular locale for outdoor readings and political rallies and is a favorite meeting place as three metro stations lie under the square: Tverskaya, Pushinskaya and Chekhovskaya. It was under here that terrorists exploded a bomb in August 2000 killing a dozen people and seriously injuring many others.
Look across the square to the left at the familiar yellow arches.
Stop number 38
Quite an uproar was caused in the 1980s when the first Moscow McDonald's opened here. It is the world's largest fast food emporium with over 800 seats and twenty-seven cash registers. With 250 employees, it serves up to 50,000 people per day. Although the long lines are gone, Muscovites still eat hamburgers all day long. Today, it is known for its consistency of food and cleanliness of bathrooms. It's also a safe place to get a drink with ice.
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Look across Tverskaya Street.
Stop number 39
At the corner on the opposite side of the street, is the Izvestia Building, containing the offices for several newspapers and designed to hold the printing presses as well. Built in 1927 by Grigory Barkhin (1880-1969), this gray rectangle of reinforced concrete with large amounts of glass is broken only by the off center shaft of the stairwell, the balconies on the far left and the four circular windows of the top floor editorial offices. This building is an excellent example of Constructivist architecture, an artistic style evident in Russia during the late 1920s and 1930s that was based on orderly and uncomplicated geometric forms.
Walk up Tverskaya Street.
Stop number 40
Next door at number 18 Tverskaya was the Sytin Printing House. This early 20th century Style-Moderne building by Adolf Erikhson (1862-after 1917) was constructed for the publishing magnate, Ivan Sytin (1851-1934), whose company printed the newspaper Russkoe Slovo and mass market editions of popular and classic Russian and foreign literature. Sytin, who started life as a serf, went to work at age 14 for a merchant, Sharapov in Kitai Gorod. Sharapov had no children and encouraged Sytin in his education and business enterprises. By 1914, Sytin's book publishing empire produced one quarter of Russia's printed books. After the Revolution, he continued to run the business for a time, but eventually retired on a government pension and wrote his memoirs. This building is unusual for the extensive use of ferro-concrete which enabled the large open work space to be illuminated by huge windows. Some of the decorative details were removed in the 1930s remodeling.
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Look across Tverskaya Street.
Stop number 41
At 21 Tverskaya Ulitsa is the Museum of Contemporary Russian History. This elegant red and white late 18th century urban palace was built for Count Lev Razumovsky (1730-1815) between 1799 and 1803 by Adam Menelaws (1753-1831). In 1811 the left wing was added. Then during the rebuilding after the fire of 1812, the right wing was added for balance. In 1831 the mansion was purchased by the English Club, a social group for foreigners residing in Moscow that was established in 1772. By the time the group bought this building, its all-male members were the mostly Russian elite, aristocratic intellectuals with interests in the arts and sciences including Lev Tolstoy and Pushkin. Sometime in the 1830s or 1840s the building was again remodeled, this time by Afanasy Grigorev.
A pair of stone lions guard the gate and large front courtyard, in which used to sit a wrecked trolley bus. The unadorned pediment of the central portico and eight Doric columns sit above a ground floor arcade in an arrangement similar to the Moscow University building designed by the same architect. In several places inside, the interior decorations have been preserved including painted ceilings, stucco moldings, and marble staircases with wrought iron banisters. For years it was called the Museum of the Revolution of the U. S.S.R., but today it is known as the Museum of Contemporary Russian History and recounts Soviet history from the 1905 and 1917 revolutions through the coup in 1991. (Open daily except Mon. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tel.: 299 67 24)
Cross Tverskaya and walk down Nastasinsky Pereulok.
Stop number 41a
On the left side of the street is a striking, ornately decorated, blue and white building that displays a variety of architectural style. The porch entry way mimics a 16th century Russian building, while the steep pitched roof and wings recall a Russian palace and the central windows recollect a Gothic building with Italian Renaissance features and some Moorish design elements. This extravagent building was constructed in 1916 by the architect Pokrovsky and the engineer B. Nelus. Planned as a Credit Bank office in preRevolution Russia, it functions in the same manner today.
Across the street is the one of the Labor buildings with interesting Soviet Realism relief sculptures.
Continue on Nastasinsky Pereulok to Malaya Dmitrovka Ulitsa.
Stop number 42
Directly across the street at number 6 is the green and white Lenkom Theater which was built by Illarion Ivanov-Shiets (1865-1937) in 1907-1908 as the Merchants' Club for Moscow's wealthy elite to display their wealth. A raised portico with six Ionic columns is flanked by two square towers and classical cornices. The facade of this ne-classical building has some ornamentation which is repeated in the more abstract and simplified fashion of Style-Moderne in the interior. Vladimir Adamovich designed the neo-Empire rear extension in 1912-1914.
In January 1918 anarchists broke into the building, evicted the wealthy merchants and hung their black flags and posters with the inscription 'Anarchy House' on the front of the building. Within several months they were removed by members of the CHEKA (the All Russian Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Sabotage and Speculation). Soon afterwards the Soviet Party School was opened here, changing its name in July 1919 to the Sverdlov Communist University. Later the building was used as a cinema, and from 1933 it housed the Theater of Working Youth (TRAM), which in 1936 changed its name to the Lenin Komsomol (or Lenkom) Theater. (The Komsomol was the Communist Youth League.) Since 1993, a newly formed club, called the Moscow Merchant's Club, has rented rooms on the north side from the financially troubled theater.
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Walk toward the Boulevard Ring.
Stop number 43
The asymmetrical, lace-like white Church of the Nativity of Our Lady of Putniki at number 4 may have contributed to Patriarch Nikon's ban on tent roofs. It was ordered in 1652, the same year that this church was completed. Nikon felt the tall tents looked too much like Western European Protestant churches with their steeples. The main church has three tall, tent-shaped spires with tiny onion-domes topped by crosses on octagonal drums. Similarly shaped tents cover the cubic-shaped chapel with its rows of kokoshniki leading to a single dome, and the belfry with its nine bells. All are blind with tiered kokoshniki gables of different sizes and shapes.
The church was situated outside the white walls of Bely Gorod. Legend recounts that a noblewoman commissioned the original wooden church after giving birth at this spot. When the church burned in the mid 17th century, the parishioners appealed to Tsar Aleksei I for help to rebuild it. Aleksei agreed on the condition that the new stone church be dedicated to the the Virgin of the Burning Bush, in the hope that she would protect the people from new fires. (It was taken from the Old Testament episode about the burning bush which, though all in flames, "Was not consumed."' ) Having built one chapel per Aleksei's wishes, the church was dedicated as before to the Virgin of the Nativity. Behind the church was a rest house where medieval travelers could tidy themselves before entering the capital city. The church was closed in 1938 and reopened in 1991. Services are conducted on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and on Saturdays and holidays at 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Walk toward the Boulevard Ring.
Stop number 44
In the place of the Strasnoy convent, demolished during Stalin's 1930s reconstruction of Moscow, stands a huge movie theater and the Izvestia news building across the street. The Pushkinskaya Movie Theater, opened in 1961 as the Rossiya Movie Theater, was the first post-war modern building in Moscow. Seating 3000 people, it is considered the premier location for Russian films to be presented. The Moscow International Film Festival is held here every two years. Beneath the theater is a casino and nearby, a twenty-four hour pawnbroker for gamblers who can't stop.
Turn left and walk along Strasnoy Boulevard.
This section of the Boulevard Ring appeared somewhat later than Tverskoy (the first section established in 1796 and located to the left of Tverskaya Ulitsa). Initially it was a narrow alley running from the Strasnoy Convent to the Petrovsky Gate. Today it is one of the shortest, but also the widest of the boulevards. Part of the width was originally occupied by Sennaya Square where hay was sold.
To continue this walk from the Pushkinskaya Theater, turn left and walk along Strasnoy Boulevard. Otherwise there are several metro entrances nearby including Tverskaya on the green line, Chekhovskaya on the gray line and Pushinskaya on the purple line.
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End of Part Three. To continue take Part Four.
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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