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The Old English Court is located on Varvarka Street between the Church of Maxim the Blessed and the Church of St.Barbara. It is a building with high roof and pointed chimneys.
Surprisingly, the Old English Courtwas discovered only in 1956 during the building renovation. It was found inside a standard 4-storey building, housing the Foreign Literature Library at that time. They assume that the Court was built by Aleviz Fryazin the Younger, an Italian architect who also designed the Archangel Cathedral in the Kremlin. The Old English Court looks more like a fortress due to its 2-meter thick walls. In the beginning of the 15th century this private residence was presented by Ivan the Terrible to a group of English merchants. The building served them as storeroom and bureau. It became the first official representative office of a Western state in Russia.
The building of the Old English Court had many owners. In 1649 after the execution of Charles I by the revolutionists in London, tsar Alexei I expelled the English traders from Russia and gave the residence to his father-in-law, boyar, or baron Miloslavsky. Afterwards the Old English Court became home of the Foreign Ministry, and then of the Metropolitan of Nizhni Novgorod. Later tsar Peter I founded an arithmetical school here. Nowadays the Old English Court houses a branch of the Historical Museum of Russia. Concerts of early music are also held here regularly.
An outstanding Russian architect Pyotr Baranovsky, who has rebuilt and saved from demolition a great number of monuments including the St.Basil’s Cathedral, restored the Old English Court. Now it is not only a monument of civil architecture, but also a monument to the Anglo-Russian trade and diplomatic relations. In 1994 the Old English Court was inaugurated after its restoration by the Queen of England Elisabeth II.
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.