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We can see a majestic edifice standing behind a small green garden, vaguely resembling some kind of ancient temple with its massive colonnade. It's the building of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts – one of the most prominent collections of Western European art in the world.
The building of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts stands on the spot where the Royal Stableyards of previous centuries once stood. The grand opening ceremony was attended by His Royal Highness Tsar Nicholas II with all his family. Tsar Nicholas opened a museum then titled The Museum Of Fine Arts In Honour Of Emperor Alexander III – Alexander being Tsar Nicholas's own father, of course. During the Soviet era the museum was renamed in honour of the author Alexander Pushkin. The Museum's founder was Moscow University Professor Ivan Tsvetaev – whose daughter Marina Tsvetaeva went on to become a famous Russian poetess. Tsvetaev didn't only oversee the formulation and display of the collections themselves – he got his sleeves up and sorted out problems of the building's construction and operation, too. Tsvetaev went on to serve as the museum's first Director.
The construction of the museum building put all the latest building technology into play, including a glass roof that allows plenty of natural light – in fact electric lighting in the halls wasn't part of the original plan. The architect was the famous Moscow architect of the era, Roman Klein. The engineer on the project, who executed the famous dome was the renowned Vladimir Shukhov.
The Museum's collections run to some 670,000 works of art from around the world – including a famous collection of French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. There are also ancient antiquities, and paintings from the collections of various private collectors.
The building at Volkhonka 12 is the principal, but not the only building of the Pushkin Museum Of Fine Arts. In fact the Museum now owns most of the buildings in the neighbourhood too. The area is scheduled to undergo an enormous transformation in the future, under the guiding eye of the famous British architect Norman Foster.
The collection of the Pushkin Museum was originally expanded from the Collection of Fine Art and Antiquities of Moscow University. During the soviet era the Moscow Public and Rumantsevsky Museums donated their Western European collections to the Pushkin Museum. Here too were brought artworks 'liberated' by the Bolsheviks from the private collections of individual art-lovers – including the huge collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.
It remains a curious fact that from 1949 to 1953 the Pushkin Museum's exhibitions were temporarily shut-down, in order to be able to use the Museum premises to display an exhibition of “Gifts to Comrade Stalin from the People Of The USSR and Other Countries”. It was only with Stalin's death in 1953 that the museum's legitimate work was resumed.
Every year since 1980 the Museum has held a concert series called The December Evenings. The concerts began on the initiative of famous concert pianist Sviatoslav Richter and Museum Director Irina Antonova.
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.