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In the C16th this neighbourhood was called “Gardener's” - after the settlement of Royal Gardeners, who were located nearby. It was these very gardeners who built the Church of St. Sophia here. The Church was extensively rebuilt in the late C18th, and when a new Refectory was added in the C19th the Chapel of St. Nicholas the Wondrous was added too. After the Revolution the church's activities dropped off. In 1925 the then Patriarch Tikhon celebrated Mass here – just shortly before his death, in fact. In 1924 a young priest named Alexander Andreev was appointed Rector of the Church. In 2000 he was canonised among the New Martyrs of the Russian Church.
During the time that Alexander Andreev was Rector, the Church of St. Sophia grew to a community of 30 sisters engaged in charitable work. They were parishioners who did not take the veil, but worked freely in tending the gardens, helping the poor, and providing free meals for orphans and destitute people. The Rector began the work of restoring the church, and be brought here – from the Simonov Monastery, which had been forcibly closed – a gilded ikon-screen of great beauty. He also somehow contrived to purchase from a book-dealer the complete library of the Optin Monastery. The whole library could have been lost – dealer was using the pages to wrap other purchases.
However, the new Bolshevik authorities regarded the activities of the Rector as anti-Soviet sedition. Father Alexander was arrested in 1929 and deported to Kazakhstan. The church was not only closed down, but made into the premises of the Atheists Union. The priceless Vladimir Ikon was placed in the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery. The library of rare books disappeared entirely. When Father Alexander was released, he lived in Ryazan, 3 hours from Moscow – he wasn't permitted to return to Moscow itself. In 1937 he was again arrested, and sent to a prison camp. By this time the church had been converted into residential accommodation – a street door had been knocked through in place of the altar, and TV antenna put up in place of the cross on the roof. Divine worship was restored in April 2004, when the Easter Mass was celebrated.
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.