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At the point where Soimonovsky proezd meets Prechistenskaya Embankment we find a two-storeyed brick-red building covered in a profusion of ornamental detail in imitation of ancient Russian architecture. It's now the French Military Liaison Office, but was originally built as the Art Gallery of banker Ivan Tsvetkov.
Banker Ivan Tsvetkov was the owner of this pseudo-old-Russian building on the Prechistenskaya waterfront. Tittle-tattlers said he was just trying to copy what Tretyakov had done. Tsvetkov, too, was an art-lover and donated his entire collection to the city. Once he'd given it, the less wealthy Tsvetkov was left with just a few drawings and sketches – but he managed to build up a substantial collection once more. The facade ot Tsvetkov's Gallery – just like the Tretyakov Gallery, in fact – was designed by artist Viktor Vasnetsov. Tsvetkov put more than 600 works on display here, and also lived in the building himself.
During WW2 the building of Tsvetkov's former gallery was given to the French Military Commission, and was frequently visited by pilots from the legendary Normandy-Neman. Today the building houses the Military Section of the French Embassy. Few Muscovites today have ever heard that Tsvetkov once had an art gallery here. But war veterans of the Normandy-Neman gather at the premises every VE-Day on 8th May.
The facade of the former Tsvetkovsky Gallery has a profusion of memorial plaques, mostly commemorating pilots of the Normandy-Nemen Squadron, who died in WW2. These French air aces took to the air in Soviet-supplied fighters – the Yak-1, Yak-3, and Yak-9, against the Luftwaffe. Four of the pilots were decorated as Heroes of the USSR – one of whom received the award posthumously, the Commander of the Cherbourg Squadron, Marcel Lefevre.
In 1999 fighter pilots from the Normandy-Neman Squadron took part in NATO raids on Yugoslavia. In 2009 the Normandy-Neman Squadron was disbanded. The remaining members of the squadron and their aircraft were reallocated to service at the Reims Air Base.
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.