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Lubyanka Square is surrounded by Teatralny Proezd street, Puschechnaya, or Cannon Street, Bolshaya Lubyanka Street, Myasnitskaya or Butcher's Street, and Novaya Square.
There's a road island with flower beds on it at the centre of Lubyanka Square these days – but until 1991 it was the location of an infamous statue of “Iron Felix” - the KGB's founder Felix Dzerzhinsky. His statue had been put up here in front of KGB Headquarters in 1958. These days it's been carted off for display in the Muzeon Park behind Central House Of Artists, on Krymsky Val – where he's kept company by other statues pulled-down during perestroika.
And before Iron Felix stood there, there was a water-pump fountain at this location on Lubyanka Square. People once came here for their domestic water, and cabbies watered their horses. When Lubyanka Square was rebuilt, they took the fountain away – to the Old Building of the Praesidium of Russian Academy of Sciences.
Lubyanka Square is one of the biggest in Moscow. It got its peculiar name back in the C16th, when the Principality of Moscow took control of the provinces of Novgorod and Pskov, and Novgorodians moved to Moscow. There'd been a street in old Novgorod called Lubyanitsa, and it seems as though the Novgorodian emigrants who came to Moscow brought the name with them. As well as Lubyanka Square, they gave the name to Great Lubyanka Street and Little Lubyanka Street.
Some people claim the name Lubyanka comes from a particular kind of wooden hut, used by the old market traders here – they were made out of bark. And they sold bark as a building material here too. But no-one has a clear idea about this nowadays. The resonance of the name Lubyanka today is quite different – as the address of the KGB's Lubyanka HQ and Top-Security Prison. Here in the building you see in front of you they imprisoned famous people such as the poet Osip Mandelstam, the politician Bukharin, the dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and many others.
Lubyanka Square is majestic and impressive. The main building on the square is the KGB Building, now renamed as the FSB Building – with the clock-tower. Another flank of Lubyanka Square is lined by the large building of the Children's World Department Store, Detsky Mir. The architect was Alexei Dushkin, who also designed many metro stations, including Mayakovskaya and Kropotkinskaya. His Children's World store is characterised by its enormous full-height windows – but they've been behind construction hoardings for ages, while a massive rebuild takes place.
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.