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The ornate five-domes church with a golden cupola, surrounded by four blue starred cupolas, can be better seen fromVarvarka street. This is the Church of the Martyr George the Victorious on the Pskov Mountain.
According to the ancient documents, the Church of the Martyr George the Victorious on the Pskov Mountain is the oldest church in Kitai-gorod. It was first mentioned in the will of tsar Vasily II in 1462. In the beginning of the 16th century Pskov residents were relocated to this part of the city, after the Pskov lands had been annexed to the Moscow principality. That’s why they started calling this territory Pskov Mountain. However, the mountain itself was torn down in the middle of the 20th century. Before that it used to be a favourite sledging spot of local children – “you can slide all the way to the Moscow-river from here!” they used to say.
In ancient times, the Church of the Martyr George the Victorious on the Pskov Mountain was called the Church near Old Jail, which was also located here, on Varvarka street. They even used to say in Moscow “to go to Varvara for a reprisal” (Varvarka street is named after St.Barbara, in Russian: Varvara). The church building that we can see today was built in the 17th century on the white-stone basement of the 15th century. The refectory and the bell tower, bothNeo-Gothic, were annexed to the church in the 19th century.
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.