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There's a monument to the first Russian printer, Ivan Feodorov, standing right in the arch of Tretyakovsky Lane. Close by there are the carefully preserved remains of an archaeological dig – the foundations of the Trinity Church On The Old Fields which once stood here.
Sadly the contemplative face of this statue of Russia's first printer, Ivan Feodorov is somehow lost against the background of enormous advertising hoardings for fancy cars. However, the statue predates the arrival of these fancy automobiles in Moscow by many years. Ivan Feodorov was the first to print books in Russian. We see his hand holding the first page of the newly printed book – as if contemplating what such innovation might lead to? Many people consider this to be one of the finest public statues in Moscow. It was put up in 1909 – originally outside the building of what was then the Synodical Publishers – later it was relocated twice, and eventually reinstalled in the location where we see it today.
Ivan Feodorov's story is sadly typical of the ungrateful way Russia has often treated its most talented figures. It's a tragic story with a particularly Russian twist to it. Ivan Feodorov was placed in charge of the first Russian printing-works, on the command of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. On the First of March, 1564, Ivan Feodorov and his assistant Piotr Mstislavets published the first printed book in the Russian language that's authenticated with a known date. Officially titled “The Acts & Epistles of the Holy Apostles”, it was more commonly known simply as “The Apostle”.
But the monastic scribes soon began hostilities against Feodorov and Mstislavets – their technology had rendered the work of monastic copyists redundant. They put out rumours among the common folk that printing presses were the Devil's work. A fire broke out at the printing press – probably arson – and Feodorov was forced to flee the capital. “Envy and hatred was hurled at us from our kin, from our homeland and from our native soil – we were driven into a foreign land of which we knew nothing” Feodorov wrote later. The latter period of his life was spent in Poland, where he died at Lvov at the end of the C16th.
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.