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The lane known as Bolshoi Cherkassky lane connects Nikolskaya Street to Ilyinka. The entire lane is lined with tall dour buildings, giving it the appearance of a glum street in medieval Europe. Maly Cherkassky lane leads off Bolshoi Cherkassky and offers more of interest – there's the House of the Moscow Merchants Association, and the Mansion Apartment building of the Kalyazinsky Courtyard.
The buildings along Bolshoi Cherkassky lane offer the chance to observe both the Russian and European developments in architectural taste in the 1920s. Most of the buildings here began as Mansion Apartment investment projects, although today they've mainly been converted to office use.
Maly Cherkassky, or Little Cherkassky Lane, runs off Cherkassky Lane to Novaya Square. Here – on the even-numbered side - we find the former building of the Moscow Merchant's Association, designed by fashionable architect Fyodor Schechtel. On the odd-numbered side is an Apartment Mansion block, the Kalyazinsky Courtyard. The courtyard of the mansion block once housed booths and tailor-shops frequented by simpler folk. By the 1930s the former apartments in the house had been converted to offices for two different newspapers “The Poor”, and “Young Communist Pravda” - a youth edition of the main newspaper. Publishing still goes on at the address today – it's the offices of the “Children's Publishing Company”.
Kitay-gorod is one of the oldest parts of Moscow. It appeared nearby the old wooden Kremlin. Although the name translates as “Chinatown,” it probably derives from kita (wattle), referring to the wall that surrounded this early Kremlin suburb. Today, remains of an old city wall and colorful churches are scattered throughout this ancient neighborhood.
The stone walls were erected in the 16th century by an Italian architect known under the name Petrok Maly and originally featured 13 towers and six gates. They were as thick as they were high. The last of the towers were demolished in the 1930s, but small portions of the wall still stand. One of two remaining parts of the wall is located in Zaryadye and the other near the exit from the Okhotny Ryad station of Moscow Metro behind the Hotel Metropol.
Kitay-gorod starts at Red Square. Apart from Red Square, the quarter is bordered by the chain of Central Squares of Moscow, notably Theatre Square (in front of Bolshoi Theatre), Lubyanka Square (in front of the KGB headquarters), and Slavyanskaya Square.
Since time immemorial Kitay-gorod has been developing as a trading area. And for centuries it was known as the most prestigious business area of Moscow. Its three main streets — Varvarka, Ilyinka, and Nikolskaya — are lined with banks, shops, and storehouses. There are also lots of historical buildings that relate to the heritage of the federal and global importance now.
In our tour you will walk along Nikolskaya Street that is famous for being the site of Moscow's first university, the Slavic Greek Latin Academy, housed in extant Zaikonospassky monastery (1660s). Another monastery cathedral, the main church of Epiphany Bogoyavlensky Monastery (1690s), is the oldest male monastery in Moscow, stands in the middle of Kitay-gorod in the eponymous Bogoyavlensky Lane. The 18th century survives in the exterior walls of the otherwise rebuilt Gostiny Dvor (Guest Merchant's Court) by Giacomo Quarenghi.
A whole quarter of Kitay-gorod adjacent to the Moskva River and known as Zaryadye (now just Varvarka Street) was demolished in the 20th century, sparing only those structures that were classified as historic monuments. These include the Cathedral of the Sign (1679–84), the Church of All Saints (1680s), St. George's Church on Pskov Hill (1657), St. Maksim's Church (1698), St. Anna's Church at the Corner (1510s), St. Barbara's Church (1796–1804), the Old English Embassy (1550s), and the 16th century Romanov boyar residence. The two last are the museums. You can visit them to see the life of the first Romanovs in the 16-17th centuries.