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Behind builder's hoardings you can make out a green building on the odd-numbered side of Nikolskaya St. – the former Theological College of the Zaikonospassky Monastery. To get a better view, go through the square iron-gated arch marked “Post-Offices Of Russia”, and in the courtyard you can see the Cathedral of the Divine Saviour, along with the remains of the main buildings and monastic cells – although they're in a shocking state.
The monastery acquired the name Zaikonospassky, or “Saviour Behind The Ikons” because it was located behind the ikon-sellers stands on Nikolskaya Street. In the late C17th the monastery opened an Academy for the study of Greek, Latin & Slavic languages – the first university in Russia. The Zaikonospassky Monastery was badly damaged during the 1812 Napoleonic occupation, but was restored afterwards. The monastery became very wealthy due to bequests of land and forestry in Moscow County – it owned mills, earned income from the lets of market stalls on its lands that jutted out onto Nikolskaya, and received a thousand roubles annually from the State Treasury.
The monastery's Cathedral of the Divine Saviour was originally built in the mid-C17th and subsequently rebuilt several times. It's one of the best examples of 'Moscow Baroque' of Peter the Great's time. You can't see the cathedral from Nikolskaya Street, but you can see at least its spire from Revolution Square and Theatre Square.
The Zaikonospassky Monastery's Theological College first appeared in the C19th. Osip Bové executed the design of a new building for the College a little later, in the fashionable Empire Style of the C19th. The soviet authorities had both the monastery and its college shut down. The building was then used first as the Historical Archives Institute, and then subsequently by the Russian State University of the Humanities. However, recently ownership of the building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.
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.