--:-- • --:--Пример экскурсии
There is a big building with white colonnade along the entire Khrustalny, or Crystal-glass lane. It is the eastern façade of the Old Merchant Court.
The stone parts of the Merchant Court were built in the end of the 16th century. Fifty years later, due to economical growth, it was expanded towards Varvarka St. According to the foreigners, the Merchant Court was the “best building in Moscow”. It was surrounded by high whitewashed walls with gates. Above the walls rose an octagonal tower with small hipped roofs on the sides. It was decorated with colourful tiles, painted in yellow, red, green and blue; and the top of the tower was crowned with a gold-plated eagle. There were always plenty of traders and buyers in the Merchant Court. One foreigner who happened to be in Moscow in the end of the 17th century wrote: “…the court is so crowded, so stuffed with sledges and different goods, that one has to constantly climb over things instead of walking through. Here you can even find hundreds of Astrakhan sturgeons and sterlets piled up for sale, as well as a lot of caviar.”
In 1786 Ekaterina II was informed that the Merchant Court “has fallen into a complete decay and threatens to collapse”. The empress approved the report and ordered a new building project to an Italian architect Kvarengi. However the project was not carried out as it had been planned. The architect didn’t take into consideration the inconvenient relief, therefore they had to amend the building project right during the construction works. Another complication was caused by the fact that the court owners took part in the construction, and each of them was in charge of only his own part. Due to all this, the construction works dragged on for 15 years.
The Old Merchant Court suffered during the fire of 1812, but was later restored by a famous architect OsipBove. It turned out to be a solid comfortable building that became a model for dozens of merchant courts in many Russian towns. The Merchant Court was really impressive. There were more than 800 stores and more than 80 columns on the building facades! The courtyard was so big that it had room for a great number of merchant carts. The façade of the Merchant court is decorated with Corinthian columns. Each arch between the columns was intended for a separate store. One will be impressed by the high heavy columns, the regular arches and the spacious inner galleries along the perimeter of the Merchant Court.
In the end of the C20th city authorities renovated the Merchant Court, thus making it also a high-society center. The Moscow Fashion week, Vienna balls and other cultural and entertainment events are held here regularly. Nowadays in the Merchant Court one can find many shops, exhibition hall, archaeological centre, art galleries, as well as various restaurants and cafes.
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.