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THE ARCHITECTURE OF MOSCOW

The Arbat Street is a pedestrian street of one kilometer long in the historical centre of Moscow.  This is a peculiar area of many small streets and lanes with beautiful 18th and 19th century mansions, museums and shops. Originally the street formed part of an important traderoute and was home to a large number of craftsmen. The first historical records of Arbat date back to the year of 1493. It is highly probable that the street name originates from the Arabic word for "suburb" as in the 15th century only the Kremlin was regarded as the city proper, while this area witnessed many a great caravans arriving from the East. This way an Arabic word could well have been assimilated into the local dialect. In the 19th century Arbat turned into a favourite neighbourhood for nobility of Moscow and creative intelligentsia. In the mid 1980s Arbat became the first Moscow's pedestrian street, the Old Arbat. Over the years the street has developed into one of the most popular places in Moscow with various souvenir shops, cafes, cultural centers, etc. This is a peculiar area of many small streets and lanes with beautiful 18th and 19th century mansions, museums and shops.

 

Moscow, The Arbat Street
Moscow, The Arbat Street
Moscow, The Arbat Street
Moscow, The Arbat Street

Kitai-Gorod is one of the oldest historical parts of Moscow. It joins the Kremlin from the east side, and Moscow River - from the south side. In the north it borders with Okhotny Ryad, and in the northeast - with Old and New squares. The south part of Kitai-Gorod is the oldest one. It is well known that in the 11th century it had already been inhabited. In the 14th century the territory was occupied by traders and craftsmen.

 

The name "Kitai-Gorod" appeared in the 16th century when craftsmen were replaced by boyars and clergy representatives. The name has nothing to do with China, which is "Kitai" in Russian. Most probably, it comes from the old Russian word "kita" that is a bunch of poles that was used for fortification construction. Originally, Kitai-Gorod was surrounded with earth rampart and wooden fortifications, and in 1535-1538 on their site the Kitaigorodskaya Wall was put up. By that time Kitai-Gorod along with Red Square was an important trade center of Moscow. It was also famous as the place where the Printing Typography started to function in the 16th century, and printing pioneer Ivan Fyodorov worked. At the end of the 17th century in Kitai-Gorod the Mint was opened, and in 1687 the Slovenian-Greek-Latin Academy that was the prototype of the University was founded in the monastery of Our Savior Behind the Icons.

 

In 1812 when Moscow was captured by the army of Napoleon, Kitai-Gorod burnt down. When the city was set free and reconstruction works started, Kitai-Gorod was built up with stone constructions. At the end of the 19th-the beginning of the 20th century Kitai-Gorod became a business center of Moscow. It was the place where banks, the Exchange, and trade centers were located. Elegant many-storied buildings in the Art Nouveau style were constructed for some of them. Nikolskaya Street of Kitai-Gorod was the center of book trade. The largest in the city Sytin's bookstore was also located there. At the end of the 19th century the Upper and the Middle trade rows were put up.

 

Today on the site of the Upper rows the GUM Department Store is located. The Lower trade rows that existed in Kitai-Gorod since the 17th century were repeatedly rebuilt, and finally demolished. During the time of Soviet power, Kitai-Gorod was reconstructed several times. The tumbledown buildings were pulled down, the narrow lanes were broadened, and the metro stations were constructed. Nowadays Kitai-Gorod ranges among the nine "preserving zones" that were created by the government decision. It is not allowed to put up new constructions in Kitai-Gorod. The restored old mansions and churches are used as museums, concert halls, and other cultural institutes.

 

Moscow, The Kitai Gorod
Moscow, The Kitai Gorod
Moscow, The Kitai Gorod
Moscow, The Kitai Gorod

The splendid two-storied palace in Classicism style was put up in 1778-1782 by architect M. Kazakov. The building was intended for Moscow Governor-General Z. Chernyshev, the one who was in command of Russian army when it captured Berlin in 1762 during the Seven-year war with Prussia. After Chernyshev's death the palace was possessed by the state treasury, and in 1791 rebuilt by Kazakov. Since the end of the 18th century the palace was used as the residence of Moscow Governors-Generals.

 

The new monumental three-storied building topped with the pediment was constructed along the "red line" of the street. The term "red line" in town-planning means the conditional line that divides the street from the territory intended for construction works. Behind the house there was the yard fenced in the side wings that were demolished in 1929-1930.

 

After October Revolution of 1917 the Moscow Soviet occupied the building. And in 1937-1938, when Tverskaya Street was reconstructed, the mansion was moved to the new "red line". In 1944-1946 the mansion on Tverskaya Street was rebuilt by architect D. Chechykin. The main facade was decorated with thick columns, and the two classicism-style floors with eight-columned portico, round windows and sculptural medallions were overbuilt. Bright colors (red walls, white moldings, gildings) emphasized the mansion's importance and significance.Nowadays the building houses the City Hall. The pediment is decorated with the city coat of arms, which is a relief depicting Saint George. The interior of the mansion features a part of original decoration, including gala-staircase, the Red and the White Halls faced with artificial marble, gala suite adornments, ceiling paintings that were restored by artist P. Korin. In front of the House of Moscow Governors-Generals Tverskaya Square is located. Two hundreds years ago it did not have the name. It served as a drill ground where the guard trainings took place. Since the middle of the 19th century the square got the name of Tverskaya, and in 1912 it was called Skobelevskaya. General Skobelev was the hero of Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, and was in command of Russian troops in battles for Bulgaria liberation. The monument to Skobelev was put in the middle of the square. In April, 1918 the monument was removed, and the pedestal was turned into the rostrum. After some time the monument to the First Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was placed in the square. The monument was designed by sculptor N. Andreev. The square got the name of Sovetskaya. After World War II the monument that was in poor condition was replaced. In 1954 the square was decorated with the monument to the founder of Moscow, Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. The monument became the symbol of the Russian capital. Recently the square has been given its original name - Tverskaya.

 

Moscow, City Hall
Moscow, City Hall
Moscow, City Hall
Moscow, City Hall

On the eastern side of Red square, lies the building, which houses Russia's most famous shopping mall - the State Department Store, GUM. Since now there are a great number of other shopping centers and hypermarkets in Moscow, but GUM retains its status as a consumer Mecca for visitors to Moscow. In the Soviet Union, the top floor was home to Section 100, a secret clothing store only open to the highest echelons of the party. Nowadays the rows of exclusive boutiques are accessible to anyone with a platinum card. That said, the building itself is glorious, and there are still a few more interesting relics of a bygone era on the higher floors that make it well worth exploring.

 

The site has been used for trading throughout history. By 1520 there was already a large stone arcade standing here. Fire destroyed the old Upper Trading Rows, as they became known, and the current building was completed in 1893. A joint project between architect Aleksander Pomerantsev and engineer Vladimir Shukov, its steel framework and glass roof were, at the time, on the cutting edge of technology, and give GUM a certain resemblance to a large European station. It has an area to match and, at the end of the 19th Century, it was the largest shopping center in Europe. Before the 1917 Revolution it contained a staggering 1,200 stores.

 

In 1928, GUM was closed by Stalin as he decided to use the building as the headquarters for officials working on the first Five Year Plan. GUM was reopened in 1953, and became one of the most popular sites for the legendary Soviet queues, which could at times extend all the way across Red Square. After privatization in the early 1990s, it rapidly became the address of choice for top-end Western retailers. Journalists and travel writers often comment on the sharp contrast between prices in GUM and poverty in Russia - as if the majority of New Yorkers get their clothes from Saks, or the average Londoner could afford to do their grocery shopping in Harrods. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, a tour of Red Square should always include a quick stroll down the aisles of GUM.

 

Moscow, GUM
Moscow, GUM
Moscow, GUM
Moscow, GUM

The Moscow State University is the oldest in Russia. It was founded in 1755 by the great Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. Originally, the University was housed in the drugstore building on Red Square. According to Lomonosov's plans, the three faculties were founded:  Philosophical, Juridical, and Medicinal. A year after the Universitys foundation the University library started to function. For over than 100 years it was the only public library in Moscow. In 1786-1793 at the intersection of Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street and Mokhovaya Street the building for the University was put up. The impressive building was damaged during fire of 1812, and later it was rebuilt in the Empire style. In 1833-1836 on the opposite corner of Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street and Mokhovaya Street the new building featuring Saint Tatiana University Church was constructed.

 

Moscow University was extremely important for scientific knowledge popularization. On the basis of the University scientific societies were forming. Public was allowed to attend the University lectures and students' debates. In the University typography the newspaper "Moscow Vedomosti" ("Moscow Bulletin") was published. Many outstanding persons were studying at Moscow University. Among them were writers D. Phonvizin, V. Jukovsky, A. Griboedov, M. Lermontov, V. Belinsky, A. Gertsen, A. Chekhov, theater leaders V. Nemirovitch-Danchenko and E. Vakhtangov. Now Moscow University has the status of a state institute. The new chairs and faculties were organized. In 1940 when the University celebrated its 185th birthday, it was given the name of Mikhail Lomonosov. In 1950 the new building of Moscow University was put up on Vorobievy Mountains. It was designed by an architect L. Rudnev. In 1953 technical and natural faculties moved to the new building. In 1950-1970 the University complex was put up on Vorobievi Mountains. It housed all the faculties of Moscow State University, and only four faculties stayed in the buildings on Mokhovaya Street.

 

In June 1992 according to the President's order, Moscow State University got the status of self-governing institute of higher education. Nowadays Moscow State University named after Mikhail Lomonosov is the largest classical university in Russian Federation. Over 40,000 students and candidates study at the University, and over 10 000 schoolchildren attend the preparation courses of the University annually. Many professors of Moscow University are laureates of Nobel Prize, State Premiums of the USSR and Russia. Cultural and educational traditions of Moscow University are carefully kept by Moscow State University publishing house that issues scientific, popular scientific and training literature. Moscow State University Library is still the largest in Russia.

 

Moscow, The Lomonosov Moscow State University
Moscow, The Lomonosov Moscow State University
Moscow, The Lomonosov Moscow State University
Moscow, The Lomonosov Moscow State University

The VVTs is still much better known by its Soviet-era name, VDNKh - the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements - and it remains a fascinating monument to Russia's transitional period, a mixture of faded Soviet pomp and unregulated, rapacious capitalism.

 

It began life in 1939 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, a monumental paean to the achievements of collectivization epitomized by the famous statue Worker and Collective Farm Girl by renowned Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina. The exhibition was housed in 250 buildings spread over 136 hectares, and attracted 4.5 million visitors in 1940 alone; 3,000 guides were employed to take care of them.

 

The exhibition had to be closed during the war years, and was only reopened in 1954, with the addition of the magnificent arch that stands at the main entrance and further exhibition pavilions that extended the area of the park to 207 hectares. Two years later, the All-Union Industrial Exhibition was opened on the same site and, in 1958, the Construction Exhibition was moved here, too, and all three were renamed VDNKh. In 1992, the park was given its current name and opened up to private enterprise.

 

The results were instantaneous and extraordinary: temporary kiosks and garish billboards spread like a rash across the park, in stark contrast to the grandiose Stalinist architecture of the original pavilions. These, too, were swiftly taken over, with luxury car dealerships and gun shops taking the place of earnest exhibitions detailing agricultural processes and industrial breakthroughs.

 

Nowadays the VVTs is a bizarre juxtaposition: part agricultural fair, part trade expo, part shopping centre and part street market, with amusements as diverse as paint-balling and camel rides - as well as the ubiquitous slot-machine arcades - on offer in various parts of the grounds. The park itself is an intriguing example of 20th century landscaping and, even if they are a little the worse for wear, the buildings are still preposterously magnificent. The VVTs is truly unique, and well worth a visit, especially as there is plenty more to be seen nearby, including the wonderful Cosmonautics Musuem, the Ostankino TV Tower, and the very different delights of the Ostankino Park and Estate.

 

Moscow, VVTs
Moscow, VVTs
Moscow, VVTs
Moscow, VVTs

The Moscow Underground (called here Metro) is an essential part of life in the capital, and is the main pillar of the whole public transport system in the city. It was opened in 1935. Its first line was the Red one, which initially had only 13 stations and was 11 km long. Today there are 196 stations in the capital's subway system (44 of which are cultural heritage sites), and the network is continuing to expand: This year seven new stations will open. The trains run along 12 lines with a total length of 327.5 kilometers, with many connecting stations having signs in English.

 

The metro is the most convenient means of public transport in Moscow and very easy to use. It transports up to 9 million passengers a day which makes it the 2nd most heavily used underground system in the world (after Tokyo). The average speed of the train is 90km/h. Since trains arrive at the stations at an average of one every two minutes, there is never any need to worry about missing a departing train.

 

However, the Moscow metro is far from merely functional. The system is considered the most beautiful metro in the world, with the opulent decoration of many of its older stations leaving newcomers astounded. Many visitors have compared grand stations such as Komsomolskaya and Novoslobodskaya to underground palaces, and guided tours of the network are popular with tourists. The Moscow metro even has its own museum, located at the Sportivnaya station.

 

Moscow, Metro
Moscow, Metro
Moscow, Metro
Moscow, Metro

Manezhnaya or Manege Square (Russian: , Manezhnaya ploshchad) is a large pedestrian open space at the heart of Moscow bound by the Hotel Moskva to the east, the State Historical Museum and the Alexander Garden to the south, the Moscow Manege to the west, and the 18th-century headquarters of the Moscow State University to the north.

 
The square forms a vital part of downtown Moscow, connecting Red Square (which sprawls behind the Iberian Gate immediately to the south) with a major traffic artery, Tverskaya Street, which starts here and runs northward in the direction of Saint Petersburg. It is served by three metro stations: Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, and Teatralnaya. Moiseyevskaya Square at the turn of the 19th century. The Manezhka (as it is familiarly known) had its origins in Moiseyevskaya Square, which was formed in 1798 in consequence of the demolition of the medieval Moiseyevsky Monastery which used to stand on the banks of the Neglinnaya River since the times of Ivan the Terrible. Although the muddy river was earthed up, the neighbourhood remained crammed with public houses and taverns which gave the area its infamous moniker of "Moscow's belly". A decision was arrived at in 1932 to pull down these "ugly relics of the bourgeois lifestyle" in order to make room for Communist meetings and demonstrations. As a result, the 19th-century Grand Hotel and several Neoclassical mansions by Osip Bove were dismantled, whereupon the Moiseyevskaya Square was expanded to its present size and renamed Manezhnaya after the Manege it now abutted upon. Notwithstanding its new name, the eastern side of the square came to be dominated by another building,

 

The newly-built Hotel Moskva, a hybrid of several styles, most notable for its huge proportions and uptight look. In 1967, the square was renamed after the 50th Anniversary of the October Revolution. Furthermore, in order to commemorate that event, the Communist authorities laid a foundation stone for a grandiose sculptural monument, which failed to materialize. In August 1991, Manezhnaya Square (its name by then restored) became a venue for great demonstrations celebrating the fall of Communism after the abortive coup d'etat. More recently, it made the news in connection with riots following the Russia national football team's defeat at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The place has been a stage of rioting again in December 2010, when thousands of youth representing football fans and/or those who support nationalist slogans held a rally at Manezhnaya which turned violent. It resulted in many local rioting and ethnically motivated violence across Moscow and nationwide and made the square's name common in media when it comes to growth of nationalist sentiments in modern Russia. Monument on a glass cupola to Saint George and the Dragon, patron of Moscow During the 1990s, the Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov had the square closed to traffic and substantially renovated. The centrepiece of the renovated square is a modern trade centre, with four underground storeys and parking lot capped with a rotating glass cupola, which forms a world clock of the Northern hemisphere with major cities marked and a scheme of lights below each panel to show the progression of the hour. Another innovation is the feign river-bed of the Neglinnaya River, which has become a popular attraction for the Muscovites and tourists alike, especially on sultry days of summer.

This house in Chinese style was built for the tea merchant Sergei Vasilievich Perlov who left the family tea trade company in order to establish his own business. He bought the land on Myasnitskaya Street in the center of Moscow in 1875, and began to build the new house on it in 1891. The construction was finished by 1893.

 

The first floor was for Perlovs tea shop, and other two floors were used for profitable apartments and the hosts own habitation. The front side of newly built house was redecorated in the Chinese style in some years. Little tower in form of pagoda appeared and front side was decorated with molded dragons, snakes, Chinese umbrellas and lanterns. Some materials were even brought directly from China. It was made before the visit of the Chinese Ambassador Li Hongzhang, who should visit Moscow for Nikolai II and Alexandra Fyodorovna coronation. Perlov thought that it might be useful for his business but the Ambassador stopped at Perlovs brothers and competitors house. But thanks to this case now we have a beautiful exotic building right in the city center, as if it came right from another part of the world.

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