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You cannot fail to miss the ancient pink building with the round tower and columns on its facade. It's the chapel of St.Ivan The Divine Under The Elm. The chapel has only recently been restored to holy worship.
The chapel of St.Ivan the Divine Under The Elm was previously located in this pink building – its story begins in the C15th. At that time the city boundaries were here, and a heavy sentry point stood nearby. The first wooden church was built into the gatehouse here. However, Moscow was growing furiously, and a century later this once-suburban church was now in the city. In the C16th the wooden church of St.Ivan the Divine was taken down, and the church rebuilt in stone. But the church would wait until the C19th to assume its present appearance. The new church was built in the Empire style, and decorated with a portico and a huge colonnade. Above this a large circular rotunda with columns and arched windows were added.
The curious name of “Under The Elm” was acquired simply – from a huge elm-tree which grew nearby. The tree died in the C18th, but the name nevertheless stuck. The Church was closed-down by the new soviet authorities. From the 1930s until 2010 the church building was used to house the Museum of the History of Moscow. Nowadays the renovation of the Church to its original state is nearing completion – the cross and dome are restored, and gilded. On sunny days the radiance of the dome fills the entire square with light.
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.