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A sculpture titled “Children are the victims of the bad habits of adults” by Mikhail Shemyakin was put up in the Public Gardens in September 2001. Although it seems in rather poor taste to put this sculpture up directly on the spot where the men of the 7th Division of the 862nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion were blown to pieces by a German shrapnel bomb in 1941 during the WW2.
The sculpture “Children are the victims of the bad habits of adults” was the first work of St. Petersburg sculptor Shemyakin erected in Moscow. However, his instantly-recognisable words can be seen on the streets of other cities too, including St. Petersburg and Venice. Soon after its unveiling the sculpture was quickly surrounded with a tall protective fence. People asked why? The reason is that Shemyakin's works are not as admired by the public as by the bureaucrats who commission them, and this one didn't last long without being vandalised. It didn't take six months before people starting breaking bits off and throwing them in the river. The renovated copy of Shemyakin's masterpiece is now protected from art lovers by a giant metallic fence.
The sculpture “Children are the victims of the bad habits of adults” shows a round-dance of thirteen monstrosities – allegorial depictions of prostitution, crime, and other predations. However, the inscriptions under the figures have faded, so you have to take your own guess as to which monstrosity illustrates which perversity.
Mikhail Shemyakin was born in Moscow in 1943, but spent most of his youth in West Germany. His father was an officer in the Soviet Army. At the age of 14 Shemyakin returned to the USSR and entered the Art-School of the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad (latterly St. Petersburg). He studied there for four years, but was thrown off the course. He then worked in the art labs at the Hermitage, before becoming an art-restorer there. His talent went unrecognised during the Soviet period. He was even compulsorily hospitalised in an institution for the mentally ill. Unacknowledged in his own country, Shemyakin left the USSR in 1971 – first for Paris, and then subsequently for the USA. He was only permitted to return to the USSR in 1989. However, in 2007 he emigrated once again, this time to France.
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.