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There's a substantial nine-storey apartment house on the odd-numbered side of Lavrushkinsky pereulok, which is known as 'The Writers' House'. Across the road there's a red building with a white arcade.
In 1937 a large number of different soviet-era writers were given new housing on Lavrushinsky pereulok – in the early 30s Stalin had decided to collectivise authors – not only in administrative matters, such as the Union of Writers – he insisted they all lived together too. In 1932 Stalin issued a decree saying “We must create a writers' commune, a home for them, where writers will have apartments, a cafeteria, a large library – everything they need. And the State will find the funds for this.”. At first the writers were offered rooms in a building on Tverskoy Boulevard – while those just starting their careers as proletarian penmen were housed in a hostel on Pokrovka Street. Members of the Artistic Union got apartments on Furmanov Street. The building was put up in 1937, and rebuilt in 1948-1950.
So which writers were honoured with new housing here at No17? There were so many, that we wouldn't have space to list them all – more than 100 different authors altogether. Some were already well-known, others would become so only subsequently. They lived in a privileged hothouse world, unseen by the eyes of the rest of society. Everything was at their disposal – government-owned summer cottages; clinics & medical facilities for their exclusive use; and a private dining club, where only Top Party Members could gain access. By some comical peculiarity the only writer commemorated outside with a memorial plaque is someone named Yusef Yuzovsky.
The House of Writers was lampooned by Mikhail Bulgakov in his famous novel 'The Master & Margarita'., although he carefully relocated it – to help his narrative, and perhaps to protect himself too – in one of the lanes which run off Arbat Street. But all of Bulgakov's readers knew perfectly well which building he was describing – the one in front of us, on Lavrushkinsky pereulok and opposite the Tretyakov Gallery. Bulgakov used the incident to satirise his personal enemy – Osaf Litovsky. Head of the Theatre Repertoire Committee – whom he wrote into the novel as 'literary critic Latunsky'. Bulgakov attributed all the abuse he'd received in his professional career to this particular Communist functionary Litovsky – who had banned a number of Bulgakov's works and prevented them from being published at all. On top of all of this, although Bulgakov's name was put forward for an apartment in the Writer's House – but his name was crossed off the list.
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.