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The St.Nicholas Church on Nikolsky lane is called “Krasny zvon”, which refers to the beautiful bell ringing of the old time (in Russian “krasny” stands for “red”, as well as “beautiful”, “zvon” means “chime”). It is highly unlikely that you’ll manage to approach the Church. It stands on the closed territory of the Administration of the President. But you can have a look from the security toll-gate control post.
The first mention of the St.Nicholas Church in this location dates back to 1561, and it underwent reconstruction quite a few times over the centuries. The latest version was completed in 1859. During the Soviet rule, in the 1930s, the building was used as a local government agency, and later on it was converted to an electrical powerhouse. The church was returned to the faithful community in the end of the 20th century. It was restored, the interiors were replicated, and the bells began ringing in the air again.
The St.Nicholas Church is crowned with a large and beautiful five-dome structure. Its slender hipped bell-tower played an important role in shaping the Kitai-gorod panorama. Many sources tell of an old cemetery behind the church’s altar, which reportedly became the last resort for the head of boyar (or baron) Sokovin, among many famous parishioners; he was decapitated on the grounds of being accused of attempted murder of Peter the Great.
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.