Moscow - From the Cathedral of Christ the Savior - around the Kremlin walls

JUN 22,2015 - JUN 22,2015 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

From the Cathedral of Christ the Savior - around the Kremlin walls.

Main attractions: Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge, Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka, Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov, Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Strelka cafe', Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, House on the Embankment, Pashkov House, Mokhovaya street, National State Library with the sculpture of Dostoevsky, Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa, Manege Square, Red Square, St. Basil Cathedral, Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya, Kremlin southern wall and towers.

See our blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tips 2 and 3) for the first section of this blog.

See our blog "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 2) for the Manege Square section and (Tip 5) for the Red Square section.

Start: Kropotkinskaya (Кропо́ткинская) Metro Station, Red line, Line # 1.

End: Borovitskaya Metro station, Gray line No. 9 / Biblioteka Imeni Lenina Metro station, Red line, Line # 1 / Aleksandrovsky Sad station, light blue line No. 4, Arbatskaya Metro station, Dark Blue line No. 3 -  which are all part of the same interchange Metro complex.

Note: this route can be combined with the Tipter "Old Arbat" itinerary.

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The Kropotkinskaya station has two exits. Yours is towards the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Leaving the station you find yourselves in Volkhonka Street. Several museums are to be found here. The best-known is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (to your left) founded one hundred years ago by I. Tzvetayev, the father of a prominent Russian poet Marina Tzvetayeva. The museum’ s collection boasts of 670 thousand pieces of West-European art. The collection of the works of French impressionists and post-impressionists displayed in the museum is considered to be one of the world’ s most notable.

As for us, let’ s proceed to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. See the blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tip 2). The entrance is free BUT you have to pass security detection. Most of the photos of the Cathedral exterior and interior are in the blog designated above. In the old times, the Moscow’ s oldest convent named Alexeyevsky was located here. In its memory the Catherdal’ s lower Church of Transfiguration was consecrated. It was already in December 1812 that the emperor Alexander I issued a decree by which he took oath to erect “ a church in the name of Christ the Savior” in Moscow as a tribute to the memory of the Napoleonic war heroes. The place for the construction was chosen up on Sparrow Hills. By force of circumstances, the erection of the cathedral started only in 1839 under the reign of a new monarch, Nicolas I, in a new location at Volkhonka Street. The construction works spread over fifty years, during which services were still ministered here. In December 1931, the Cathedral was leveled to the ground by an explosion leaving the space vacant for the construction of a monstrous 420-meter Palace of Soviets with a gigantic figure of Lenin on top. This project was never implemented, and in 1960 an open-air Moskva swimming pool was opened in the place of the demolished cathedral. Incidentally, the pool was a great attraction for Muscovites. The cathedral was re-erected in the 1990s. The first solemn liturgy was ministered here in 2000 on the Christmas night of January, 6 – 7. The cathedral can accommodate the congregation of up to 10,000 people. The cathedral complex incorporates the museum of the history of the cathedral. An elevated observation platform was installed under the cathedral’ s dome.

The southern facade:

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The Eastern facade:

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The Cathedral interiors:

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Note: at Soymonovsky street, below the Cathedral of Christ the Savior complex - you'll find a restroom.

As you walk around the cathedral, you’ d find yourselves entering a pedestrian bridge across the Moskva River. It was officially called Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge soon after Most Holy Patriarch Alexius II passed away.

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The view of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior from the bridge is stunning:

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The view of the city center and the Kremlin walls from the bridge is splendid:

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The view, to your right, of the Fallen Monument Park (Sculptures Park),   Peter the Great Statue and Strelka cafe'-bar - from the bridge is also splendid:

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Looking, from the bridge, to the right/back (on the western bank of Moskva river) across Simonovsky Street (where it meets Prechistenskaya street - Пречистенская наб) you can notice a “ fairy-tale” house with a saddle-back roof, “ terem”-like (V-roofed) balconies and tiled faзade panels depicting the magic Sirin Bird, peacocks and Jarilo the Sun (a Proto-Slavic deity of fertility and vegetation) (1, Simonovsky). The house was built in 1907 for a Russian engineer P. Pertzov in accordance with the drafts of the artist S. Maliutin – the creator of the Russian matryoshka doll. From 1908 till 1912 the basement of the house was used as premises of the “ Bat” artistic cabaret, whose stage witnessed performances of the Moscow Art Theatre actors:

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The Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge - from the south - in the Moskva river:

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Opposite, on the eastern bank of Moskva river (north to Strelka cafe'-bar) - you can see the golden towers and dark green roofs of Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka in the foreground glittering behind the trees:

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The Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov are nearby. The chambers of Duma’s Clerk Averky Kirillov built in 1656-1657 make one of the most well-known dwellings of the 17th century. The rooms’ layout, an entrance system with a magnificent porch, and brick decoration with glazed tiles remind the main motive of the Teremnoy Palace. Framed windows and doors made the main decorative element of the dwelling architecture of the 17th century. They used to be the main accents of the décor of such buildings. The chambers have different projections and depressions that follow the room’s layout. Picturesque dynamics of asymmetrical composition was especially appreciated in that time period - In the 18th century:

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To the right is Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Bersenevsky Lane, 2, the former chocolate and confectionary factory that has extended its workshops along the embankment. After more than a century of producing chocolates and other sweets, the famed Krasny Oktyabr factory, opposite the Church of Christ the Saviour, was finally forced to close. The odour of chocolate has always been here in the air. The “ sweet” production was recently shifted to a new location, and the factory shops were rebuilt. The closure happened as part of an effort to remove industry from the historic centre of the capital. Its area, which boasts the best views of the Kremlin, is being converted into high-rent real estate. Nowadays, the whole area is fenced and is an entry-prohibited space. By the way, the past factory garages and other outbuildings have already been taken over by artists for gallery and studio space of the Strelka cafe'-bar. A small museum will remain open to document the history of the complex and the company.  Today, the factory comprises a whole range of galleries, hostels, restaurants, bars and night clubs frequented by young people. The whole of the area is being referred to as the “ Art-spit”:

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The most prominent arts & education establishment on Red October is the Strelka cafe', bar (pricey !), museum, amphi-theatre - already detailed in another blog Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" - tip 3:

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Head on over to the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography (www.russianmuseums.info/M3061) to see the most interesting retrospectives of international and Russian from the modern days all the way back to the early 20th centuries. The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is a platform, which is designed for working with professional photographers, photographic collections, photo exhibitions and photo galleries. The Center plans to hold exhibitions, prepared by its own curators, as well as to provide facilities to other interesting projects in this area. In recent years The Lumiere Brothers Center has greatly widened its repertoire and now also hosts regular master classes from leading Russian photographers, workshops and other educational evenings, stages concerts of some great indie bands from Russia and the West, has indie movie and documentary screenings and boasts a very well-stocked store, where photography connoisseurs can find virtually anything to suit their needs:

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Further north, on the EASTERN bank of Moskva river (the Strelka side) is the colossal House on the Embankment. It was designed by Boris Iofan. It took four years to build it. It was erected in the place of a former salt and liquor warehouse where from the so called “ monopoly vodka” was delivered to Moscow saloons. For a long time the house had been the biggest block of flats in Europe. The House on the Embankment is a block-wide apartment house in downtown Moscow. It faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side and Serafimovicha Street on the other side. It was completed in 1931 as the Government Building, a residence for the Soviet elite. In different periods of time its tenants had been six Politbureau members, sixteen Marshalls and Admirals, more than sixty Peoples’ Commissars (ministers) and their deputies as well as prominent workers of art. The flats were mainly inhabited by the Communist Party leaders. They offered spacious rooms with a height of five metres; all flats featured telephone lines, gas ovens and central heating. The building also housed various communal facilities like a gymnasium, tennis court, nursery, library and laundry. During the Stalinist horror era, many tenants were arrested and disappeared. This era was famously described by Russian author Yury Trifonov, who lived in the House during his childhood, in his novel ‘House on the Embankment’ (1976). The building currently has 505 apartments (some used as offices), a theater, a movie theater, restaurants, and retail stores. The faзade of the house is faced with numerous memorial plaques. Before the war, the courtyards of the House used to accommodate fountains, a kindergarten, a preschool institution, a laundry and a club (the present-day Variety Theatre) – everything for private use of tenants. There is a museum of the House on the Embankment housed in the premises of the former commandants office (in the court next to the Variety Theatre). Take a walk through the courtyards of the house towards Serafimovicha Street named after the Soviet writer Serafimovich in 1933, who once lived here. Cross the street by a pedestrian underpass towards a five-storey apartment house (5/16 Serafimovicha Street). This house was mentioned in a poem by a popular children’ s author Agnia Barto: “ There was a house in this place, but it disappeared with all of its tenants overnight…” In fact the house did not disappear at all, however, in 1937 it was moved 74 meters aside to vacate the construction area of new big stone bridge (that we'll soon use):

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The Udarnik cinema, which was also a part of the complex, was originally meant to have a sliding roof that could be opened. This plan was never materialized. It was the largest in Europe for the time as well as the apartment house:

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In case you arrived to the eastern bank of the Moskava river - you have to walk 800 m. to arrive to our next destination (Pashkov House). It is quite a difficult task to cross the very wide, bustling Borovitskaya pl. street and to arrive to the western bank of the river:

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Head north along Bersenevskaya nab., 70 m (along the river in the eastern bank). Turn right (down) onto ul. Serafimovicha, 30 m. You have to find the ascent-point (steps) to the Bolshoy Kamennyy bridge (most) over the river. Turn left toward Borovitskaya pl., 75 m. Turn left onto Borovitskaya pl., 500 m. Turn right at ulitsa Volkhonka, 50 m and you face, on your left (up on the Vagankovsky hill) - the Pashkov House (Пашков дом), 1 Vozdvizhenka Street, 3/5.

In case you are, still, on the western bank - head north along Prechistenskaya street (Пречистенская наб). The minute you see the Kremlin walls in front of you - try to find a way (IT IS VERY BUSY, COMPLEX and DANGEROUS INTERSECTION. USE ONLY SUBWAY, CROSS-LIGHTS OR BRIDGE - to pave your way to Pashkov House over the hill) to turn left to Borovitskaya pl (no mercy for pedestrians in this "transport hell"...).

Pashkov House is a famous Neoclassical mansion that stands on a hill overlooking the western wall of the Moscow Kremlin and the mighty, busy intersection of thoroughfares below. Its design has been attributed to Vasily Bazhenov. Throughout the 20th century Bazhenov’s authorship was disputed, since no written evidence has survived the ages, and the only thing that serves as a proof is oral tradition and similarities to Bazhenov’s other buildings. It used to be home to the Rumyantsev Museum (Moscow’s first public museum) in the 19th century. The palace’s current owner is the Russian State Library. The Pashkov House was erected in 1784-1786 by a Muscovite nobleman, Pyotr Pashkov. He was a retired Captain Lieutenant of the Guards Semenovsky Regiment and the son of Peter the Great’s batman. As soon as it was completed, the Pashkov House became a landmark of Moscow. For many years a splendid palace of white stone standing on the Vagankovsky Hill has amazed people and is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Russian capital. It is one of the key locations described by Mikhail Bulgakov in his novel The Master and Margarita. The impressive view of the building is partly due to the site where it is built. The Pashkov House stands on a high Vagankovo hill, as though continuing the line of its ascent, on an open corner of two descending streets. The front facade faces the sunny side. The mansion was erected a bit skewed and not along the straight line of the street relative to the street and to the entrance from the Starovagankovsky Lane. Because of this, the Pashkov House is better perceived from sideways, allowing further angle viewpoints. Location of the building also has a symbolical importance: the Pashkov House towers a hill opposite the Borovitsky hill topped by the Kremlin. It was the first secular building in Moscow, from the windows of which one could see the towers and building of the Kremlin not bottom upwards, and could observe Ivanovskaya Square and the famous Cathedral Square into the Kremlin premises. The building has a varied and interesting silhouette, being formed by three compact cubages: main building and two flanking service wings. The mansion, being at the same time a town manor, has a flat-topped lay-out with a court of honor opened towards the entrance. The solution is unorthodox, since the entrance is from the side street and not from the main facade, and the traditional lay-out is inverted. There was a garden in front of the mansion before the 1930s. The facade looking on to the Mokhovaya Street is characterized by linear expansion. Two one-storey tunnels run to the right and to the left of the central cube ending in two-storied Service wings. The main building has colonnaded porticos on both sides. The building is topped with a cylindrical belvedere. These devices are common for Palladianism. In contrast to rusticated ground floor, the porticoes use great order linking two floors. Thanks to a not-too-high but full-width base, such linking of the two floors by a colonnade increases immensity of the building:

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In case you prefer to walk along the Alexander Gardens under the Kremlin walls - see our "Moscow - The Kremlin Route" blog). In this route we take the less scenic itinerary along the western section of Kremlin walls. We shall try to walk around the Kremlin walls from three sides:

  • The western part, formerly facing the Neglinnaya River, is now part of the Alexander Garden. This section is covered in our "The Kremlin route" blog. So, we'll walk along alternative route through the Mokhovaya street.
  • The eastern part faces Red Square.
  • The southern part of the wall faces the Moskva River and Sophia promenade.

We turn right to Mokhovaya street. On our back/right side are the Borovitskaya and Armoury towers of the Kremlin (see our "The Kremlin Route" blog):

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Finalizing climb-up the Mokhovaya street -

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you see, on your left, the the National State Library  with the sculpture of Dostoevsky: (see Tipter "Old Arbat" route).

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Behind the Russian National State Library - if you turn LEFT (WEST)  to Vozdvizhenka Street - you start our Itinerary of Old Arbat street (see our "Moscow - Old Arbat (Stary Arbat) - worth stopping in for a stroll on a nice evening" blog). We continue northward along Mokhovaya street. On our right is the Manege Exhibition center:

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Behind it is the wonderful Manege Square with its flowers beds, fountains, Four Seasons Hotel, Okhotny Ryad shopping mall's roof, souvenirs sellers and benches:

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A bit further north, on your left is the Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa:

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You continue along Mokhovaya street until it changes to Okhotnyy Ryad street and the Four Seasons Hotel is on your right. You turn right. Cross the Manege Square from west to east (the Four Seasons Hotel is on your left, now and most of the elliptic Manege Square on your right).

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You arrive to the Marshal Georgy Zhukov Monument and the Historical State Museum in front of you. They are, both, formally, still in the Manezhnaya Ploshchad (Manege Square):

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Enter the Red Square through the Red Square's Resurrection Gate and Iberian Chapel:

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Cross the Red Square from north-west to south-east along the Kremlin walls and end your walk (see Tipter route "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 5) in the St. Basil Cathedral.

The Spaskaya (Savior's) Tower in the north-east corner of the Kremlin walls - as seen from the Red Square:

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From the wonderful St. Basil Cathedral we head southward  onto pl. Vasilyevskiy Spusk:

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View from the Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent) to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge:

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WE DON'T CROSS THE MOSKVA RIVER. THERE ARE WONDERFUL SIGHTS OF THE KREMLIN AND ITS WALLS FROM THE Bolshoy Moskvoretsky  BRIDGE:

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We turn right (quite complex to find the walking route !!!) to  Quai Sainte-Sophie/Sofiyskaya nab., 350 m. On your right is the Moskvoretskaya Tower. The Beklemishevskaya Tower is one of the few towers in the Kremlin whose appearance has remained unchanged throughout the ages, and which has not undergone any serious reconstruction. Sometimes referred to as the Moskvoretskaya (Moskva River) Tower due to its proximity to the Moskvoretsky Bridge, it supposedly took its name from the Boyar Beklemishev, whose manor lay nearby. The tower was always the first to come under enemy attack, as it was situated at the junction of the Moskva River and the moat:

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Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower from Moskvoretsky Bridge:

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Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower, Nameless1 Tower  from Moskvoretsky Bridge:

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We stick to the St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya (Кремлевская наб.) (APPROX. 1 km.) under the Kremlin southern walls. The promenade starts at Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy most/bridge in the east and ends at Bolshoy Kamennyy most/bridge in the west - along the Moskva river. Most of the development works of this promenade had been carried out during the 19th century (starting at 1836). Due to these works and its height - the promenade provides magnificent views of the Kremlin and the city of Moscow. Try do the walk along the wall, if only at river-height. A nice walk with the sun starting to come or in a bright day:

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The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower and the First Nameless Tower (left, west):

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The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower (second right, east), the First Nameless Tower (second left), the Secret Tower (left, west):

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Nameless 2 Tower at the southern walls of the Kremlin:

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The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower:

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The section between the Secret (Tainiitskaya) Tower (unseen in the photo, right, east) and the Annunciation Tower (left, west). The white building in the centre - is the the Grand Kremlin Palace:

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The "almost last" section of the wall between the water-supplying Tower (right) and the Annunciation Tower (left). The tower in the background is the Borovitskaya Tower - above the southern part of Alexander Gardens:

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In its west end Kremlevskaya nab. turn right toward Borovitskaya pl.,
230 m. You take the ramp to Mokhovaya (МОХОВАЯ улица/ТВЕРСКАЯ улица), 36 m. It merges onto Borovitskaya pl., 65 m and you continue onto Mokhovaya St. 95 m - finalizing your extended circuit around the Kremlin.

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