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Two male figures with a large cross and the Holy Scripture are the memorial to Kirill and Methodius, the authors of the Slavonic alphabet. It is located opposite one of the entrances to the Kitai-gorod underground station, on the border of Ilyinsky gardens and Slavianskaya square.
The memorial dedicated to Kirill and Methodius, the educators, was triumphantly opened as part of the celebrations of the Days of Slavonic writing in 1992. Right at the foot of the memorial one can see an Everburning Lampad, which usually accompanies the most revered ikons. The plinth reads in Old Slavonic: “To the holy Slavonic teachers, the first ever, to Kirill and Methodius. Yours gratefully, Russia”. Yet this inscription is associated with something rather curious: the short phrase, as much as it is the symbol of the Slavonic writing, has 5 orthographic errors from the modern Russian language’s perspective!
The Kirill and Methodius brothers were truly outstanding educators of their time, not the least the creators of the Slavonic alphabet. They were born in early 9th century in the Byzantine city called Soloniki. Kirill had obtained top-notch education in Constantinople and went on to teach philosophy in his own university, which was one of the best higher-education institutions at the time.
In 862 the brothers went to the distant land of Moravia to preach Christianity in Slavonic, Moravia being the Czech territories of today. This is where Kirill and Methodius put together the Old Slavonic alphabet and translated a few books from Greek. Yet the Roman church did not approve of their efforts at all. The brothers were accused of heresy, as it was acceptable to only produce Holy books in the three Holy languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The Roman church has always been a devout safeguard of its laws and traditions. What Kirill and Methodius did can be compared to the work of Martin Luther, one of the greatest reformers in the history of religion and the Church.
Having received the church’s accusation of heresy, Kirill and Methodius were forced to head to Rome. Soon after their arrival Kirill came down with a serious illness. He might have sensed his death was closer day by day, as he requested to be ordained as a monk and was sworn into the schema oath; he passed away one and a half months later. Methodius returned to Moravia where he preached Christianity and educated people until his own passing. In 879 he managed to get an official permission to hold services in Slavonic.
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.