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The grey building with a rotunda on the corner, next to the All Saint Church on Kulishki, is one of Moscow’s first business centers – the Delovoi Dvor, or the Business Court, built in 1913.
Delovoi Dvor, or the Business Court, used to be a huge cluster of buildings with demonstration halls, a post office, warehouses, and a namesake hotel. It was built in the early 20th century, and it used to occupy the whole block. The Delovoi Dvor hotel was at the time one of the fanciest and most luxurious in the city. The announcement of the hotel’s opening spoke of the following to the public: “Elevators, luxurious interiors, electrical lighting, hot and cold water supply to every room; a top-quality restaurant, baths, billiards, landline phone in every room, separate living rooms”. And yes – today you can’t really surprise anyone with any of those…
The building plan of the Delovoi Dvor complex consisted of a long structure for the hotel itself, divided into three separate yet interconnected sections, and a wholesale trade building. Reinforced concrete skeleton structures in the “American” style, five to six floors high, with large windows and minimalist façades, received little to no decoration. The main building is styled with a portico and a dome under the arch in the corner, and the corner entrance to the hotel is decorated by a neoclassic rotunda with a Corinthian colonnade. This is one of the first Moscow buildings made of reinforced concrete. It now houses offices, shops, and restaurants.
The Delovoi Dvor complex was developed by the architect named Kuznetsov. He was of lower social class origins, yet WW1 saw him quickly become the most sought after expert. During the war years Kuznetsov put up over six hundred buildings, and none of those were generic or standardized. He was a professional, and he never abhorred any work. Kuznetsov had a profound knowledge of the properties of materials, as well as of building technologies; he was an engineering genius.
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.