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Sophiyskaya embankment stretches from Serafimovich Street to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge (or the Big Moscow River bridge). This embankment was named after the most important church of the Tsar Gardeners District – the Church of Sophia, the Holy Wisdom. Its belltower dominates the skyline of the embankment.
The bottomlands opposite the Kremlin received a self-explanatory name: Boloto, which translates as “the swamp”. In the C15th this territory was already partly inhabited, but a fire of 1493 destroyed everything. Emperor’s gardens were pitched here later, in turn giving a new name to the whole district – Sadovniki (“the gardeners’ place”). The Sophia Embankment is located in the so-called Middle Sadovniki.
The Sophia embankment got its name from the Church of Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, which belongs to the Middle Sadovniki neighbourhood. This temple is over 500 years old. Sometimes the belltower of this church gets mistaken for the church itself, which would be incorrect; the belltower's second level is home to another small overgate church named after the icon of Madonna the Pleader for the Deceased. The belltower was built in the 1860s, with the funding from the sugar king Peter Kharitonenko, who lived at Sophia Embankment No.14 – the most famous building on the street.
The Kremlin view from the Sophia Embankment is an iconic image of Moscow. It all started with paintings by Pieter Picart, who was Peter the Great’s court artist and lived in stone chambers in place of today’s building No.6; these chambers no longer exist. This view soon made it to the enameled tops of the Einem candy box-sets; a few of Einem’s production facilities and its owner’s house were located on this very embankment. By the way, it was due to family relations of Herr von Einem and the head of the Russian Siemens office that this company and none other became involved in the lighting works for the Kremlin and the Tainitsky Garden on the onset of electrification.
The monumental panoramic painting by Pieter Picart titled “The Moscow view from Zamoskvorechie” is currently part of the State History Museum collection. This Dutch engraver lived and worked in Russia most of his life. He had started in Moscow as an assistant to the chief engraver Adriaan Schoonebeek in the Armoury Chamber, and later went on to head an engraving workshop. He used to head off to work starting from Sophia Embankment and then took the Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge across the river. Pieter then took up work with an engraving workshop affiliated with the Moscow Printing House. He left over 50 unique pieces of art behind that became integral to the best Russian museums’ collections. These paintings include battles and fortresses, portraits of Peter the Great and his nobility, of the Poltava battle, and many others.
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.