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Across the road from the RosAtom building, behind the railings and redbrick columns we find Moscow's first Automated Telephone Exchange. It's the building with the high arched windows and circular mosaics of churches.
A telecommunications engineer named Patek designed the first Automatic Telephone Exchange for Moscow in the mid-C20th. This tall building for the exchange was built in the early 1990s. Both facades of the exchange building are decorated with attractive mosaics of the churches of the Zamoskvorechie neighbourhood. The original Exchange here was installed using Swedish technology and catered for up to 10,000 numbers. That first station operated for 67 years, and is listed in the Guiness Book of Records for the longest operational duration.
The walls of this single-storey Automatic Telephone Exchange are decorated with mosaic medallion patterns – in all there are 12 of them. They illustrate churches in the Zamoskvorechie area – some which still stand, and others which were pulled down in the militant atheism' years of Bolshevik rule. On the wall of the new tall building which looks onto Bolshaya Ordynka Street we see a bas-relief sculpture of Viktor Vassiliev, who directed the Moscow Telephone Service for 19 years – with a phone receiver in his hand. Actually, this memorial tablet was moved here from a building in Nastasinsky pereulok, which was where Vassiliev had his office. But that building was later demolished, so the tablet was moved here – although he never worked at this address.
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.