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There is a former rental mansion apartment block belonging to the industrialist Pyotr Solodovnikov here – the four-storey yellow building at the very start of Lebyazhy Lane on the odd-numbered side. It couldn't be called attractive – in fact it looks like a barracks. But there's still a reason to have a look! Look up to the majolica panel which is set just below the eaves – now there's something to be proud of! This kind of art laid out in the street itself is a real rarity in Moscow.
It's quite hard to see the detail on the majolica panel under the eaves of the roof, if looking from down below – and even harder to see the captions which appear underneath them. In fact the captions are verses by Alexei Tolstoy (not related to Leo Tolstoy) from his book “Borivoi”- a tale of crusading German princes and the vikings Sven and Cnut, against the Slavs of the Baltic. “Borivoi” is the Slavic chieftain who smashes the power of the crusaders in the deciding battle. There are quotes from this ballad epic under the pictures on the panel. The panel was made specially to sketches executed by the painter Mikhail Vrubel.
It's very likely that this outstanding majolica panel, with such an unusual text and theme, was inspired by the awful bloodshed of WW1 and hostilities with Imperial Germany. The appearance of such patriotic verse from Tolstoy seems quite apposite – especially since the German knights who are shown in defeat on the panel were beaten in 1147 – the very year in which Moscow was first mentioned as being the future capital of the Russian state.
In a way we can call this glum-looking apartment building 'literary' – as the Russian author Boris Pasternak lived here on two different occasions. His little window peered out towards the Kremlin and Sofiiskaya Embankment. “A box with red orange – my closet” he wrote about this room in his poem “Superstition”. The allusion is to the tiny size of the room, like a matchbox. At the time he was writing, there was a popular brand of matches which had a picture of a blood-red orange on the packet.
The site where Solodovnikov built his mansion rental property had previously been the house of a Moscow Mayor named Zotov. This same Zotov had been a descendant of Nikita Zotov, who had been a very influential friend of Peter the Great. He held extensive landholdings in this part of the city, but it's an unusual surname – you almost never come across it. At the turn of the C20th the industrialist Pyotr Solodovnikov bought a plot of land from the vodka-merchants Protopopov. He completely redeveloped the site and in 1913 he opened Solodovnikov's Electric Theatre – effectively a cinema with 500 seats. After 1918 the premises were taken over by a group named “Theatre Of The Proletariat”, who organised political rallies here – there are no details of what this actually involved. The apartments for rent were above the cinema premises. Unfortunately nothing survives of this early experiment in motion pictures in Moscow.
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.