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The corner of Lubyansky Proezd street and Maroseika street is the location of a pale green building with a rotunda at its corner. It was once owned by the wife of Count Razumovsky, Varvara Razumovskaya.
House No.2 on Maroseika Street was built in 1796 by Count Razumovsky as a gift for his wife, Varvara. During the Napoleonic occupation of Moscow in 1812 it was commandeered by Field-Marshal Mortier – who took charge of blowing up parts of the Kremlin Wall during the final stages of the French retreat. The house features in Tolstoy's novel “War & Peace”. As a yet-to-become famous literary and historical landmark, the house nevertheless had an unusual appearance for a mansion residence of its time. The rotunda, with a belvedere, stands at the start of the street, accentuating the corner location with which Maroseika joins Lubyansky Proezd street.
Varvara Razumovskaya's house is the main, and only remaining building of a previously larger noble estate – previously there had been, until 1777, a Church of the Intercession on the site. The building makes a kind of grand entrance to Maroseika Street. The main part of the mansion is the rotunda with its belvedere, which are in turn joined to a three-storey wing. The wing which leads off along Lubyansky side street once housed the offices of corn dealers. The other wing – which commences nearly 150m further along Maroseika, once housed a coaching-inn, which later became a rather notorious whore-house. The house preserves a magnificent wrought-iron staircase cast by the Kaslinsky Foundries in the 1860-70s.
The story of Countess Varvara Razumovskaya makes engrossing reading. She was born into the lap of luxury, the daughter of royal courtier Count Peter Scheremetyev and Lady Varvara Cherkasskaya – as a bride, she came with the richest dowry the C18th had seen. However, even huge riches failed to make her marriage to Count Alexei Razumovsky a happy one – even though it produced four children. They were radically different personalities – the fervently pious yet semi-literate Varvara, and the liberal, freethinking Voltaire-reading Count. Shortly after the birth of their fourth child Count Alexei made preparation for a separation. His terms required the Countess to pay him maintenance for the children – 10,000 gold roubles – while he lived separately with his mistress, a servant-girl.
Countess Razumovskaya moved into the mansion on Maroseika, which her husband Count Alexei had built especially for her. There she withdrew from public life. Her only visitors were her children and her brother, Nikolai Scheremetev, whom she termed “her only solace and support”. Three years before the Napoleonic Wars began, she moved house again, to their family's country estate at Odintsovo - the Akulovo Mansion.
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.