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The House of the Moscow Merchants Association is the corner building with the large windows where Bolshoi Cherkassky meets Maly Cherkassky .
Building on the new House of the Moscow Merchants Association began in 1911 to drawings by architect Fyodor Schechtel. The design of the building illustrates the crossover of style moderne into the later functionalist style. The frontage was designed to maximise natural light inside the building – as you can see from the huge windows. Decoration of the large exteriors was achieved by Schechtel using a new kind of material – clinker bricks with a yellow-grey glaze. Even so, it's not yet the full functionalist style, Schechtel designed the building without a built-in interior floorplan – with the idea that clients who rented the building could subsequently alter the layout to whatever suited them.
From the 1920s onwards the building was commandeered by the soviet authorities, who housed the National Health Committee here – and then further soviet organisations too. The building became something of an anthill, and corridors became partitioned into further office space. After WW2 a cafe opened on the ground floor with interiors consciously reworked in the so-called “Stalin Empire” style. It lasted right through to the end of the C20th.
Quite recently the House of the Moscow Merchants Association was entirely restored. The interior floorplan was cleared of subsequent redesigns.
Take a look through the main entrance, and you can see the wonderful curved style-moderne staircase. The restorers took especial pride in restoring the ferroconcrete floorings, which are modelled on a Monier curve. To sum up, this building is an example of state-of-the-art restoration in Moscow at present.
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.