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The bell-tower of the Church of St. John The Baptist In The Pine Forest has a commanding position at the start of Pyatnitskaya Street – its light-green tower is visible from far around. We find it on the even-numbered side of Pyatnitskaya Street.
The Bell-Tower of the Pine-Forest Church of The Beheading Of St. John The Baptist is set back a little from the main street-line of Pyatnitskaya, at the corner with Chernigovsky Lane. No-one really knows why it is named as being in a pine-forest. But Zamoskvorechie is low-lying territory, and few realise that its appearance today might differ radically from how it may have looked, for example, in the C16th – when Ivan the Terrible was Tsar. So when people scoff at the pine-forest title, they should remember that it's a historical name with a pedigree of its own. Pine-trees wouldn't be impossible here. Since they're often digging the road up here, you might see that the soil here is very sandy. And pine-trees thrive on exactly that kind of soil. It's entirely possible that long ago there really was a copse of pine-trees where we're standing now.
The bell-tower of the Church of St. John The Baptist in the Pine-Forest was built with funds donated by a merchant named Zamyatin, at the end of the C18th. At that time it was differently decorated – where you see the large vases now, there had originally been angels. The angelic decorations were smashed off during the soviet era. Looking up, we see the bell-tower is designed in the classicist style, but with some residual elements of Moscow baroque. The tiered construction is especially interesting. The lower columns are Doric, whereas the mid-section columns are Ionic in pattern, and those on the uppermost section are elegantly-carved Corinthian.
Meanwhile down at the bottom of the bell-tower there are some tasty hot Russian pasties on sale. They're baked by the church's parishioners, and the money raised goes towards restoring the church buildings.
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.