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You can get a bit closer to the C18th annexe wing of the main house here. The tympanum over the portal has sculptures of rather demure ladies of classical antiquity playing harps – they are Clio and Polyhymnia, the Muses of Poetry & Music. A sign at the entrance announces the premises of the International Fund for Slavic Literature & Culture. There's also a Slavic Press Centre and a restaurant called “The Officer's Mess” - which occupies the C17th chambers of the building. Next door we find a museum about Igor Talkov.
The earliest recorded owner of these mansion premises was a certain Yuri Rzhevsky, a military man from an old Smolensk family who served in the Preobrazhensky Hussar Regiment. He was also Pushkin's great-grandfather. His son Rzhevsky, also a military office, inherited the mansion.
We're involuntarily reminded of a number of stories related to the Hussars, although it's not clear exactly which of the Rzhevsky family was the hero of these stories – and several of them remain unprintable. Most of them seemed to take place at grand balls. And speaking of balls, you can still rent the upper storey of the mansion if you wish to hold a grand ball there yourself. For some time in the past the premises housed a rather well-known Boys Private School – the VIth Kasitsyn Boy's Grammar School.
There's a pronounced section of the main two-storeyed building which juts forward, decorated by a six-columned portico, and was built in the 1820s. The pseudo-baroque style of the building is similarly from the 1860s, although the actual building itself is considerably older. In the western, or right-hand wing of the buildings there is a single-pillared chamber, which almost certainly dates from the turn of the C17th. But most of the rest of the building was constructed later, probably from 1710 and onwards.
During the 1790s, when the mansion was owned by a merchant named Vassiliev, it underwent a radical rebuilding – restyled in the classical mode, and with an additional storey added. It was at this time that the forward extension, with its portico, was added to the ceremonial frontage of the building. The grounds ran as far as Bolshaya Ordynka. The South courtyard displays the oldest decorative work, which was discovered while restorers were working on the building.
By 1906 the north-western part of the estate had been purchased by the “Investment Developer” and property speculator Durilin, who built a new western wing – a four-storey building designed by the architect Shervood. Prior to the 1917 Revolution the building was occupied by a private school - VIth Kasitsyn Boy's Grammar School. Kasitsyn was schoolmaster with an enthusiasm for mathematics, whose father – Father Dmitry Kasitsyn – was the Rector of the Church of St Nicholas in Tolmachevsky Lane (near the Tretyakov Gallery). Father Dmitry was also the editor of a worthy journal titled “Morally Improving Literature”. Of course all of this was closed down in the Soviet era, when the building instead housed a kindergarten, a medical training college, and a state school.
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.