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The House On The Embankment is a solid embodiment of the 1920s idea of creating so-called “residential integrated complexes”. They were to combine the functions of accommodation and social services. Thus, for example, the apartments in this house had a hole in the kitchen wall for the samovar pipe to go out; there was also access to the freight elevator that was used to take out rubbish. All of this is not really commonplace for civil architecture. A concierge was in charge of the elevator; passengers would ascend accompanied, and whenever they wanted to go down, they either took the stairs or banged on the metal doors of the shaft to attract the probably sleeping concierge’s attention.
The canteen provided the residents with meals and boxed lunches in exchange of appropriate coupons, so there was no particular need to cook. The inner courtyards were decorated with greens and fountains. All the furniture in the apartments was uniform: the chairs, the tables, the cupboards, and all the rest had inventory tags on them. Upon moving in the residents would sign a receipt certificate that enlisted every possible item, including the window fasteners and the toilet seat. Hot water was centrally supplied. The House On The Embankment was built for the state and party highfliers of the Soviet Russia. The huge grey building was home to Kremlin officials and KGB employees, as well as academics, writers, military top kicks and other “important” people.
During the years of repression the House On The Embankment became a source of steady supply of enemies of the people. Around 700 people were repressed in total. Now there is a museum in the building that showcases lists of people repressed and shot. Of course, there were residents that got off cheaply: for example, Demyan Bedny, a soviet poet who lived in apartment No.35, was an avid booklover and a collector and connoisseur of antiques; but he just couldn’t resist getting hammered and subsequently foul mouthing, provoking debauchery and critiquing the soviet regime every now and then. You could usually tell that he managed to yet again fall out of graces with the government by seeing him cross the courtyard meekly with an antique mirror under his arm. That would be him relocating to a worse apartment. Once the poet reinstated his good name, he’d be crossing the yard in the opposite direction.
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.