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The toy castle at the corner of Yermolaevsky lane (№28) and Tryokhprudny lane is one of Fyodor Schechtel's architectural projects. It's now the official address of the Uruguayan Embassy.
The Uruguayan Embassy occupies a miniature castle, which the architect Fyodor Schechtel originally built for his own home. The house's various sections, with sloping roofs and different towers come together in remarkable harmony. The house is set back from the road. The cobbled streets were habitually grimy, and so the architect moved his house back a little from the grubby street into its own private world. Only the living-room window peeks out to the world beyond.
On the frontage of Schechtel's chateau you can see the Latin letters “S.N.” above the fence around it – they stand for “Schechtel, Natalya” - the architect's wife. If you look to the right-hand side of the front entrance, you can see panels decorated with delicate irises. The triple iris – budding, flowering, and wilting – represents the ages of man (childhood, adulthood, and old age). There's a gold mosaic about the doorway showing the numbers “9” and “6” - the date of the building - 1896. The interiors of the building are preserved, including the staircase, living room with hearth, and a vestibule with stained glass.
Fyodor Schechtel was the leading light of Russian style moderne. However, he began not as an architect, but an artist – he illustrated and designed books and magazines, theatre posters, sheet music covers, and even menus for ceremonial banquets. He went on to become the most successful and fashionable architect in Moscow. Even so, he died in poverty. In the 1917 Russian Revolution all the houses he'd built for himself and his family were confiscated. He found himself out on the street, and was left with no place of his own for the remainder of his life.
We would like to offer you a very interesting tour in the centre of Moscow – around Patriarshiye Prudy or Patriarch’s Ponds. For the last 200 years, there has been only one pond known to the public, although, the name of Tryokhprudny Pereulok (lit. Three-Pond Lane) suggests there used to be more. It is known that in 1683-1684 Patriarch Joachim ordered to dig three ponds for drainage of wetlands and fish farming to the patriarchal table. So, such ponds were fishponds.
The area is named after the seventeenth century Patriarch's Goat Sloboda located on the Goat Marsh. This marsh once was connected by a brook to the Presnya River in the west; by 1739, when the first topographic map was compiled, the brook disappeared and the marsh separated from the Presnya. People considered the swamp as an anomalous zone; apparently this caused a proverb ("Thomas has hastened, but made people laugh - he sticked in Patriarshy").
The pond acquired its present shape and was cleaned up in 1830-31 in the frames of the plan to rebuild Moscow after the Fire of 1812.
At the beginning of the XX century the area around the Ponds was actively built up. Among the buildings appeared at this time, you can see the mansion of Tarasov. In 1924, the Soviet government in the fight against religion renamed the Patriarch's Ponds in Pioneer Ponds. In 1945 in Ermolaevsky Lane a house for senior military commanders of the USSR was built.
Near the Ponds you will find a monument to Ivan Krylov. The fabulist sits surrounded by animated characters of his works: a monkey in front of a mirror, barking pug after the elephant, crow with cheese.
This district is, directly or indirectly, connected with Russian poets: Karamzin, Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Baratynsky, Krylov. Not far from the Ponds lived Vladimir Mayakovsky. In Tree-Pond Lane Marina Tsvetaeva was born.
The novel by Mikhail Bulgakov “Master and Margarita” begins at Patriarch's Ponds. During the tour you will see the Museum-Theatre "Bulgakov's House". The district has a number of museums: Yermolova Museum, State Museum of Oriental Art, Anton Chekhov’s Museum, Svyatoslav Richter Memorial Apartment, Alexey Tolstoy Memorial Apartment, Maxim Gorky Memorial House, etc.