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The Manège building's main entrance looks directly onto Manège Square. It's a noble yellow masterpiece of Empire-style architecture from the early C19th.
The Manège was built in 1817, to mark the fifth anniversary of the expulsion of Napoleon from Moscow. It was intended as an indoor exercise yard for cavalry horses – essential in a city which has five months of icy winter. It was then called the Exercirhaus, or Drill Hall. Engineer Betancourt's task was create an open internal area with no pillars. He achieved it by using solid larch tree-trunks for the roofing – in the early C19th it was still possible to find larches in Siberia growing to over 45 metres in height. The resulting Exercise Yard ceiling has no interior supports at all, giving a huge area for the horses. It was acclaimed as the engineering marvel of its age. Regrettably a fire destroyed Betancourt's ceiling in 2004. The current ceiling was made using glued trunks instead, and actually still looks very beautiful.
The Manège became the Central Exhibition Halls towards the end of the 1950s. Although after the 1917 Revolution it was used as a garage for government vehicles. The most notorious event in the Manège's C20th history was a tongue-lashing given to abstract artists and sculptors by Soviet premiere Nikita Khruschev, using some foul language – their works had failed to meet his criteria of 'socialist realism'. The saddest event was the fire of 2004, which engulfed the entire building of the Manège, burning it almost entirely. Rumours of arson circulated. However, it was restored to use within a year, in a hotly-pursued rebuilding programme.
The east-looking flank of the Manège occupies nearly one-third of Manège Street, which separates the building from the Alexander Gardens. The west-looking facade faces Mokhovaya Street, while the south looks towards the Kutafya Tower and Kremlin Troitsky, or Holy Trinity, Gate.
The fire which began at the Manège on 14th March 2004 left only its external walls standing. During the rebuilding that followed archaeologists unveiled remains that prompted a rethink in dating the original building. As the; rebuilt exhibition hall reemerged the historic exterior was preserved, while the interior underwent important changes. Two new exhibition halls were opened, each fully equipped with the last word in modern technology for exhibitions and conferences. Equipment for simultaneous translation of conferences was installed, and a spacious cafe appeared on the topmost floor, with attractive views over the square below.
The contemporary Manège building covers a vast area – over 12,000 sq metres! The area was enlarged when underground storeys were added after the fire. But after renovation the interiors were completed in a high-tech style, and the admin offices and a coffee installed up on the upper floors. A smaller exhibition hall and the cloakrooms were put in on basement level. Elaborate staircases, four escalators and two lifts were installed for inter-floor access. It’s good that among all this we can still see the work executed by Betancourt two centuries ago, with the elegant stucco walls and style of a past age.
The function of the Manège remains the same as previously – its two exhibition halls continue to host international trade fairs, art exhibitions and concerts. There's a cafe installed on the observation platform overlooking the Great Hall. The view from the cafe offers a marvelous view of this architectural masterwork. On days when there's no exhibition, visitors can go up to the cafe level and watch the set-up for the exhibition in progress.
Facing the eastern flank of the Manège, we see the yellow building of the Arsenal peeking over the Kremlin Wall.
After the fire of 1701 empty spaces appeared within the Kremlin. Tsar Peter I ordered that all the buildings from the Nikolsky Gate to the Holy Trinity Gate be demolished to make way for a new Armoury Store called the “Zeughaus”, or Arsenal. The building of the Arsenal took 34 years, because of persistent legal interruptions – in theory the law said that new civic stone buildings could only be built in St.Petersburg. The Arsenal was used as a military depot and trophy-hall, displaying the spoils of war and various ancient weapons. Today it's home to the Presidential Guard Regiment, who guard the Kremlin.
Moscow is the capital of the ancient and modern Russian state. It has been playing crucial role for centuries. Here you can face all episodes of rich and gorgeous Russian history.
The city is full of historical buildings, monuments, cathedrals, museums and parks. It started many centuries ago from the Kremlin – medieval city-fortress overlooking the Moskva River. Now it is not only the government seat but open air museum. Behind the tall red brick walls palaces, cathedrals and museums are hidden. You can get there through one of the gates and walk along the streets that saw Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter the Great and all other Romanovs, and the Soviet leaders.
You can visit all the cathedrals on Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square, climb Ivan the Great Bell Tower, take photos of the Tzar Bell and Tzar Cannon, see state regalia, ceremonial vestments and gold and silver relics in the world-known treasury-house – the Armoury Chamber. To say more, the Kremlin and its vicinities are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We would like to advise you not to concentrate on the Kremlin only. Now you can get out of the Kremlin through the Spasskiye Gate and find yourself on Red Square – the main square of the country where Victory Day parades take place. In winter there is a skating rink with some kind of souvenir bazar. Red Square is famous for being the part of so called Kitai-Gorod – the second ring of fortified walls. Here you will see the beautiful fairy-tale St. Basil’s Cathedral. It is open for tourists and it’s worth visiting. Other places that pay tourists’ attention are GUM (the main center for shopaholics), Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State History Museum and the small Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of Our Lady. If you go along Nikolskaya Street, you will get to Lubyanka Square with the imposing buildings of former KGB and the biggest in Russia Children's World Department Store.
If you decide to go through the Resurrection Gate you will find yourself on Manezhnaya (Manege) Square at the entrance to the Alexander Garden. It’s a large pedestrian open space and a nice place to walk and relax near the fountains. Underground Trade Centre ”Okhotny Ryad” or “the Hunter’s Row” is a paradise for shopping. You can continue your walk towards Arbat or Tverskaya Street. There are also fine buildings to visit and to take pictures of: The Shilov Art Gallery, hotels “Moskva”, “Nationale”, Pashkov's House, The Former House of the Moscow State Duma etc.
If you decide to turn round Georgy Zhukov’s horse monument you’ll occur on Revolution Square where you can visit the Museum of Patriotic War of 1812. From there it’s very easy to get to Teatralnaya or “Theatre” Square limited by the Metropol Hotel, The Bolshoi and the Maly Theatres. In the center you will find a beautiful fountain by Vitali.
All these sites and even more you will be able to visit and explore with knowledgeable audio excursion with offline map from Your Audio Guide “Attractions around the Kremlin”. You will find Moscow very pleasant for spending holidays.