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Opposite the Middle Trading Rows, on the other side of Ilyinka Street you can see a gray-beige building with 3 arches. It is GUM, the State Universal Store.
GUM was built onsite the building of the Upper Trading Rows that needed to be renovated by the end of the C19th. However, it didn’t go very smoothly as the conservative merchants were against any changes and tried to prevent the restoration. The governor-general of Moscow had to order to close the Trading Rows by force, as it had become a very unsafe place. During the renovation works the merchants were given provisional trading rows along the Kremlin wall. The new Upper Trading Rows were finished by the beginning of 1893. Nowadays, since GUM occupies the entire block, it has 4 entrances – one on each side. No matter which entrance you choose you will immediately find yourself inside a beautiful light building with many shops. The best traditions of the Soviet times were preserved here. For example, some Muscovites are still sure that the best ice-cream in Moscow is sold here in GUM.
If you enter GUM from Ilyinka St. and go to the 3rd floor, you will see the restaurant called “Canteen No.57” made as a typical canteen of the Soviet times. However this place is too clean and too expensive to be a Soviet canteen. But do take a moment and linger in front of its entrance. There is a very recognizable postcard view over the Red Square and Spasskaya Tower. There you may see one of many newlyweds posing on the main square of Moscow. Actually it’s not only brides and grooms who pose for photos here, but also different actors for advertisement. As for the movies, you will see this view in every film about Soviet authorities.
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.