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The Nautilus Shopping Centre is the peculiar modern building with bizarre architecture, with the green exterior and big windows. The main entrance to the centre faces onto Lubyanka Square.
The contemporary Nautilus Shopping Centre is a fairly recent modern addition here. Muscovites didn't like it at first, considering that it spoiled the appearance of a historic part of town with its unfortunate architecture. It even became the favourite jibe of critics that it was the “Moscow witlessness” of Mayor Luzhkov's era. Even so, the architect tried to work in everything needed – style-moderne curves and mosaics, and lots more – a synthesis of style-moderne with high-tech. As a shopping-mall it offers everything clients of that time wanted – comfort and convenience. The ugly style of the building even gives visitors something to talk about!
In bygone days there was a passageway tower of the Kitai-Gorod Walls where the Nautilus Shopping Centre now stands. The area was packed with antiquarian book dealers – in fact Nikolskaya Street, which runs along the south-east side of Nautilus, was always considered the main area for second-hand books. In the early C19th there were 31 second-hand bookshops in Moscow – of which 26 were on Nikolskaya! They used to nickname it “Clever Street”. After they knocked the Kitai-Gorod Walls down, the site here was barren – until the Nautilus Centre was built here, in the shape of a ship.
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.