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The only part of the Church of St. Sophia of God's Wisdom we can see here on the waterfront is its belfry, or bell-tower – it stands like a needle pointing upwards. The C17th church to which it belongs is tucked deep in the courtyard of No. 32. You can walk under the bell-tower to get a better look at the church itself.
In the 1860s it was decided to build a new belfry for the Church of St. Sophia on the Embankment, building in a pseudo Russo-Byzantine style. Russian bell towers were traditionally built as separate structures from their churches – mainly for safety, as they were prone to falling down. The new belfry greatly enhanced the beauty of the church, and its windows have their original decorative wrought-ironwork. The Church itself is blocked from view by the buildings around it, but the bell-tower is visible even from across the river. The belfry is built to a quasi-C17th design, and dedicated to the Holy Ikon of the Virgin Seeker of Dead Souls. The funds for building the bell-tower were donated by the wealthy sugar merchants, the Kharitonenko family. Pavel Kharitonenko also built himself a mansion nearby, with views over the Kremlin. It was from Kharitonenko's windows that Henri Matisse drew his pictures of the Kremlin. After the Russian Revolution Kharitonenko's mansion became the British Embassy.
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.