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“Balchug” was a name first given to the area of the artificial island created between the Moskva River and the Water Overflow Canal. However, most people know the name because of the street between Raushskaya Embankment and Lubochny Lane. Some people say the name comes from the Tatar word “balchekh” - which means a muddy bog. However, there's a nicer explanation which fits Slavic sensibilities – that the word is derived from the Old Slavonic word “balka” - meaning a ravine.
Today's Balchug Street has a peculiar interest for meteorologists. Apparently weather-forecasters have established that Balchug Street is the warmest place in Moscow. The winter temperature, especially, is always a few degrees warmer than the rest of the capital. Why is this so? It's a low-lying street and well-shielded from the wind. But other reasons might be leaking heat from the nearby State Power Station, which also releases hot water into the Moskva River.
There are two old buildings on the street of especial interest. The first is the yellow building at No. 7, the Larionovsky Trading Rows; the second is the berry-coloured building at No. 5 with the Egyptian obelisks in the niches at ground-floor level – the former shop of the merchant Andronov. When it first opened in 1840 it specialised in selling paints and brushes. During the soviet era it was turned into a workshop offering key-cutting and other metal repair-work. Larionov's originally sold saddlery goods and other riding tack.
The territories of historical district Zamoskvorechye lie on the right (southern) bank of the Moskva River. They joined Moscow in the 14th century when Russian lands used to suffer from the Golden Horde raids. The settlers mainly were soldiers, handicraftsmen and merchants. Their life was organized in a patchwork sloboda system. In 1591-1592 during the reign of Feodor I the fortified wall on the site of the present-day Garden Ring was built. Even now, one can easily understand from the street names what occupation the residents had centuries ago. For example, royal garden attendants (садовники, sadovniki) settled in the beginning of present-day Sadovnicheskaya Street from 1495 until the fire of 1701; tanners specializing in sheepskin (oвчинники, ovchinniki) gave their name to Ovchinnikovsky Lanes; royal mint workers (монетчики, monetchiki) – to Monetchikovsky Lanes, Court translators (толмачи, tolmachi) to Tolmachevsky Lanes. Bolshaya Ordynka Street was named after Orda, was the road to the Golden Horde, and was initially home to the Tatar community.
During our tour we are going to tell you about famous historic buildings in Pyatnitskaya Street, the main walking street of the district. We will walk around the State Tretyakov Gallery and listen to the story about the Tretyakovs, famous Russian businessmen, collectors and patrons of art, and the history of their collection and Gallery building.
There is also the house and museum of another famous Russian businessman and patron of art - Bakhrushin museum of theater, built in 1896.
Famous Russian writer Alexander Ostrovsky also lived in Zamoskvorechye, in Malaya Ordynka street. If you like his works you can visit his house-museum.
Zamoskvorechye is famous for its churches: Church of St. Sophia Of God's Wisdom on Gardener's Island and its belfry, Church of St. George the Victorious in Endova, The Church of the Ikon “the Joy of All Who Suffer”, The Church of St Nicholas at Pyzhakh, etc. Each of them has its own history and mystery.
With Your Audio Guide you will go through all the streets and lanes, get familiar with some interesting yards, explore the legends and myths and find out the truth. You will relax on the benches of Bolotnaya square; take pictures of the Kremlin domes, Giant Peter the Great statue, river embankments, learn about the former Mamontov Hotel and super deluxe Balchug-Kempinsky.