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You can see a grey-and-beige five-storey building of obvious Soviet legacy on the corner of Serafimovich Street and Bolotnaya Square. This is building No.5 on Serafimovich Street. It is commonly known as “the house that got moved”. It doesn’t appear remarkable in any way. But that’s because you don’t know the story.
There is a poem by a well-known children’s writer Agniya Barto titled “A house got moved”; it is a vivid depiction of what had happened to No.5/16 on the corner of Serafimovich Street, that had been built back in the 1928. Over the course of two weeks, even without asking the residents of the house to move out, engineers and workers got the house moved by almost 100 meters!
It’s been less than a decade since the building No.5/16 on Serafimovich Street was complete; yet it’s already in the way of a new big plan involving a large traffic artery that is to become the Bolshoy Kamenny (or Big Stone) Bridge. The house is new, though, it’ll be a shame to knock it down. So they… move it!.. Including the residents. Still this was not the first attempt to relocate a house in Moscow. This particular house, weighing 7500 tonnes (!), was not only moved 74 meters off the future bridge – it also rose 1.87 meters higher above the ground. All the engineering systems were connected via flexible piping. The works were conducted by the Home Relocation and Disassembly Trust headed by senior engineer Hendel.
The very first precedent of relocating a stone building by more than 200 meters was recorded in 1898 on Kalanchevskaya Street. By the mid-1930s this rather technical quest was perfected. Four houses were moved around the Sadovnichesky Island. The very first multi-storey building to be moved can now be found at the end of Sadovnicheskaya Street; then the house next to it got shifted, sliced in half and rotated by 130 degrees. As a result there are two separate buildings now instead of one.
The No.5/16 on the corner of Bolotnaya Square and Serafimovich Street enjoyed a complex relocation route, which in the end landed it diagonally deeper into the block. An obvious advantage of this relocation was a whole new basement floor. This is what the “Izvestiya” newspaper wrote on September 27, 1937: “A five-storey stone residential house on Serafimovich street is almost done being axle-jacked. In the next few days this house will be railed towards its new base. Life has not been inconvenienced in the home to be moved. All the amenities, such as telephone, water, electricity and gas, are available as usual. Preparation works are already being undertaken to relocate another house by 50 meters – it is the number 24 on Gorky Street”.
The basement of the house No.5/16 that got moved offers a near-unique service: a free public lavatory that has remained from the soviet times. This is sort of a landmark for Moscow in its own way. The weird thing is that is closes after 8pm. Who is to decide that people may no longer have sudden urges to visit a water-closet? But then, to be fair, the answer is right there, on the opposite side of the square: scratchy blue porta-loos are looming in the twilight, and with a rare evening passerby with an urgent requirement they should certainly do. It’s strange that there are rather few people here – after all, the square is beautiful, there’s a fountain and some benches… perfect for a walk!
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.