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The light-brown building with rustic façade on the odd numbered side of Varvarka street is a former 18th century gentry mansion, rebuilt later in C19th. Behind the mansion one can see a beige façade of what once used to be the office of the Tver Manufactory owned by Morozovs, prominent Russian industrialists of those times. Nowadays these buildings and the entire block behind them are occupied by the Presidential Administration of Russia.
All the buildings in this Kitai-gorod block between Staraya, or Old Square, Ipatievsky lane, Ilyinka and Varvarka streets, is occupied by the Presidential Administration of Russia. Starting from the early Soviet years different governmental offices were allocated in this quarter due to its proximity to the Kremlin. Before the revolution there were victualling-houses and coaching inns in this area. Soviet government used the existing buildings and in 1960-s started building additional new ones. Before the construction works began, archaeological excavations in this place had revealed some curious facts about the organization of this part of the city, as well as about the history of Moscow. Little by little, given the specific character of the offices located here, this territory were closing up. Some sights are now hidden from the average townsfolk, and can only be seen from the outside of many guarded barriers.
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.