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The unusual red building which we find on the corner of Soimonovsky proezd and the Moskva River Embankment looks like a perverse cross between a pleasure-dome and a fortress. In fact it was built as rental apartment mansions as a project for Zinaida Pertsova, and its appearance is known to almost every Muscovite. Nowadays it houses the Government Service for Assistance to Diplomatic Missions.
This rental apartment block was built for Zinaida Pertsova in red brick, and bestrewn with a flurry of fairytale figures, and majolica panels decorated with scenes from Russia's mythological history. The Russian artist Maliutin made the original sketches for the house (he was, by the way, the designer of the typical decoration of Russian matrioshka dolls) The house juts out at a sharp angle into Soimonovsky Proezd Street and Kursovoy Lane. The way this corner is handled in the architecture is unusual – the upper triangular tympanum is shorn-off and then molded into the gables of the house, right over the bay window of the building. You're left with the impression that you can see three sides of the building simultaneously. The balconies appear to be held up by sea monsters.
All of the decorative majolica panels on Pertsova's House were specially made for her by her artist Maliutin. He'd spent a great many years working on the decorations of the mansion of the Princess Tenisheva at Talashkino – which had become the centre of Russian artistic life in the late C19th.
The Murava Workshops prepared most of the ceramic decorations for Pertsova's House – they were mostly ceramics artists who'd studied at the Stroganovsky Arts Institute. The unusual architecture was one attraction of the house - but the other was its equally unusual circle of bohemian guests. It was here that the famous “Die Fledermaus” cabaret theatre began its life.
The actual work of building Pertsova's House was undertaken by her husband Pyotr Pertsov. There was a kind of tradition at the time that successful entrepreneurs and industrialists credited their wives with the glory, and thus this extraordinary house entered the world as Pertsova's House. In fact Pertsov himself was a railway engineer. But no ordinary engineer, and his salary was such that he could afford to indulge his wife's tastes so elaborately. Moreover, in such a desirable location! It was always the idea that their rental apartments would appeal to a bohemian circle of tenants, and indeed those who rented them were mostly artists and writers. It probably helped that the Pertsovs often offered them peppercorn rents – and some even lived here rent-free.
In 1908 the fairytale house owned by Zinaida Pertsova entered the history of the Moscow Theatre, when the basement opened as a cabaret theatre called Die Fledermaus, with performers from the Moscow Arts Theatre. There's a legend that the original founder members of the theatre – Nikita Baliev from the Moscow Arts Theatre, who went on to be one of Russia's best-loved showmen, and Nikolai Tarasov, the oil-business tycoon, were nosing around in the cellar they planned to turn into a theatre, when suddenly a bat flew out of a dark corner. They decided it was a symbolic event, and so the cabaret club was thereafter called Die Fledermaus, or The Bat. Of course, this might all be a lot of luvvy nonsense and a good excuse for a story. More likely is that they chose the bat as a specially potent symbol, and as a quiet dig at a show playing at the Arts Theatre called The Bluebird.
In fact the first show performed at Die Fledermaus was also called The Bluebird. It was a parody version of The Bluebird performed at the Moscow Arts Theatre. Guests arrived to a festive atmosphere – there were painted model bats hanging from the ceiling, and in the corner stood a gold caricature bust of the Host. Music struck up, and in the course of the evening they managed to perform several mini-shows. It was a smash hit! The director of the Stanislavsky Theatre was seen dancing the can-can, and Olga Knipper (Chekhov's young widow) played a naïve Parisian chanseuse. The conductor of the Nemirovich-Danchenko Opera-House directed a scratch orchestra, the legendary cabaret artist Vertinsky sang songs, while legendary operatic bass Chaliapine impersonated a French wrestler.
Later the Die Fledermaus Cabaret had to relocate to larger premises, opened its doors to a wider public, and began making serious money. Of course it only made money after the death of the accountant, Nikolai Tarasov. Apparently he committed suicide over an unhappy love-triangle affair. His lover, Olga Gribova, got romantically involved with a young gambler. He lost everything at the tables, and Gribova begged Tarasov for money to pay the debts. At first Tarasov pledged he would shoot the debtors... then he said he'd shoot the gambler... and finally he said he'd shoot himself, and did. As a result the affairs of the Die Fledermaus Cabaret were wound up very shortly afterwards.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a cathedral on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks southwest of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 103 metres it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.
The current church is the second to stand on this site. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. It was destroyed in 1931 during the Communist rule of Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets that was never built, so the church was reconstructed in the 1990s on the same site.
The Cathedral is located on Volkhonka Street, which starts from Borovitskaya Square. The name of the street appeared at the end of the XVIII century when on the lands of the Volkonskis, a famous noble family was a popular tavern "Volkhonka". The street is one of the most ancient in Moscow. It was famous as a district for the rich.
This district is going to become Moscow Museum District. During the tour you will see and have the opportunity to visit a number of art museums: The Tsvetkovsky Gallery, The Ilya Glazunov Art Gallery, The Lopukhin Family Mansion (aka the Roerich Museum), Gallery of European and American Art of the C19th and C20th, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Private Collections. While walking here you will understand why Moscow used to be accepted as a beautiful jewelry box. In the lanes you will discover old mansions and fall in love with stories of Russian noble families. Such are The Golitsyn Mansion, The Lopukhin Family Mansion, Obolonsky's Mansion, Sergey Tretyakov's Mansion etc. The Chambers of Averky Kirillov - a unique example of a large urban homestead. Chambers, Church of St. Nicholas and outbuildings along the waterfront are a single architectural complex.
Another bright example of Moscow architecture is Pertsova's Rental Apartment Mansions. The house was an apartment house, located on the corner of Soymonovsky passage and Prechistenskaya embankment, built in 1905-1907 by architects N. Zhukov and B.N. Shnaubert on sketches of the artist S.V. Malyutin, author of Russian nesting dolls. The house includes apartments and artists' studios in the upper attic of the building.