Main attractions: Revolution Square (Ploshchad Revolyutsii), Karl Marx Monument, Tretyakovsky Proyezd, Synodal Printing House, Zaikonospassky Monastery, Epiphany Monastery, Lubyanka Square, Solovetsky Stone (kamen), to the victims of the Gulag, Moscow Choral Synagogue, Varvarka street, St. George Church, the Church of the Trinity in Nikitinov, The Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "The Sign" and The Palace of the Romanov Boyars, St. Barbara’s Church, the English Court, Church of St. Maksim, The Rossiya Hotel, Gostiny Dvor, Southern side of St. Basil Cathedral, Kitay-Gorod Metro station.
Start: Revolution Square (Площадь Революции, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Revolyutsii Square) Metro station. Dark Blue, No. 3 line, Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line.
Lubyanka (Лубя́нка) Square, Lubyanka Metro Station (Red #1 line, Sokolnicheskaya Line).
End: Kitay-Gorod Metro station. Orange Line No. 6 (Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya Line) AND Violet Line No. 7 (Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line).
Duration: 3-5 hours. Distance: 3-4 km. The second half of the day can be devoted to the "From Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge - along Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka Churches" itinerary/blog. The Ordynka route STARTS - WHERE THIS ROUTE ENDS.
General introduction: There are 3 main streets in Kitay-Gorod: Nikolskaya, Ilinka and Varvarka. We will take a look at each of them.
The Revolution Square (Площадь Революции, Ploshchad Revolyutsii) or Revolyutsii Square is a square located in the Tverskoy District, northwest of Red Square. The square has the shape of an arc running from the southwest to the north. It is bounded by the Manege (Manezhnaya) Square to the southwest, Okhotny Ryad busy street to the north, and the buildings separating it from Nikolskaya Street to the south and to the east. The continuation of the Revolution Square north behind Okhotny Ryad is Teatralnaya Square (Theatre Square) - see Tipter "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" blog. The main buildings and monuments in the Revolution Square are: Karl Marx Monument and Hotel Metropol (see below), located in the northwestern side of the square at the corner with Teatralny Lane, was built in 1899-1907 and is considered one of the finest Art Nouveau buildings in Moscow - see Tipter "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" blog. The building of former Moscow City Hall, built in 1890-1892 by Dmitry Chichagov. It separates Revolution Square from Red Square. The Resurrection Gate was built in 1535, rebuilt in 1680, demolished in 1931, and rebuilt in 1994-1996. It connects Revolution Square with Red Square. There are three Moscow Metro stations located under the Revolution square, all of them having at least one exit at the square: Ploshchad Revolyutsii, named after the square, Teatralnaya, and Okhotny Ryad. All these stations are transfer stations, with Teatralnaya being connected with the other two. In 1918, the square was renamed after the October Revolution. Nowadays, the square is now mostly used for parking.
We exit the Ploshchad Revolyutsii in the north direction - with our face to the Karl Marx Monument and to the Teatralnaya Square (and the Bolshoy Theatre). On our right side (east) is Metropole Hotel (described in the "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" blog. When you are standing in the Revolution Square - you can see the hotel's top floor splendid frescoes:
The first temporary monument to Karl marx appeared slightly on the different place than the today's one on Revolution Square on 7th November 1918 to commemorate the first anniversary of October Revolution. The original monument showed Marx and Engels and was personally opened by Lenin in front of key party members. Though because of its whimsy design it was instantly nicknamed "Two in a bathtub"... The original monument dilapidated and was removed less than two years later. On 1st May, 1920, on another place facing the Bolshoi Theatre, the first brick for the new monument to Marx was put. The draft was personally approved by Lenin. However, the construction project lingered for long after Lenin's death and till 1957 there was only one granite brick with inscription: "First stone of the monument to the great chieftain and teacher of the word proletariat (workers) Karl Marx". The Kruschev's administration opened a competition for a new monument and a prominent soviet sculptor Lev Kerbel and his team were assigned to its new version. It was announced as a great event in all the media as the cutting was to be performed live by the architect himself from the enormous monolithic granite chunk in front of the public. Work lasted for several months and the finished project was finally solemnly opened on the 29th October 1961. Opening was attended by the highest party administration and even delegates from some foreign Communist parties from around the world. The final version weighs 160 tons. Marx represented as an orator on a tribune addressing workers with a patriotic speech. Many locals call the monument "Refrigerator with a beard". The statue inscription in Russian is: "Proletarians (workers) of all nations unite!" And on two pylons on left and right from it two quotes respectively: "His name and his deeds will outlive centuries" and "The teaching of Marx is totally powerful, because it is right". Note: the (seeing-all) bird on top - is part of the sculpture !
With your face to Karl Marx back (north, the Bolshoy Theatre in the distance) - on your right (north-east and east of the square) - note the orange walls and the colorful buildings with several eateries and clubs:
Kitay-Gorod resides south-west to Lubyanka and south-east to Red Square. So, we head to Nikolskaya ul. This street runs directly off Red Square between GUM and the Kazan Cathedral. Nikolskaya Ulitsa takes its name from the Nikolskiy Greek Monastery, the remains of which can be seen at No. 11.
We suggested returning to Nikolskaya street (near the southern exit of the Ploshchad Revolyutsii Metro station). The best way to do it is to return to Nikolskaya by walking clock wise in the Revolution Square. Head north, 20 m. Turn right toward Teatralnyy pr-d, 25 m. Turn left toward Teatralnyy pr-d, 15 m. Turn right toward Teatralnyy pr-d, 85 m. Turn right onto Teatralnyy pr-d, 190 m. Turn right onto Tretyakovsky Proyezd
150 m. Tretyakovsky Proyezd (Tretyakov Drive) meets Nikolskaya street at 19, Nikolskaya. It is a short street with boutiques and shops with many luxury goods and known as one of the most expensive shopping areas in the world. The medieval-looking archway in 19 Nikolskaya was designed by architect Alexander Kaminsky (1829–1897) in 1871. The project was financed by Kaminsky's brothers-in-law, Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov, who were also the founders of the Tretyakov Gallery:
We shall walk along Nikolskaya southward (BUT, we shall return back northward a bit later). Turn right onto Nikolskaya ul. 110 m. At Nikolskaya ulitsa, 15 stands the MAGNIFICENT former Synodal Printing Yard & House (Московский Печатный двор) at Nikolskaya Ulitsa 15. It is the birthplace of printing in Russia. It was here, where Russia’s first book was printed in 1 March, 1564. It was established in Kitai-Gorod by order of Ivan the Terrible in 1553. The historic headquarters of the Print Yard now house the Russian State University for the Humanities. Note the VERY BEAUTIFUL Gothic-style facade (towers, arched windows) with oriental elements (twisted carved columns decorated with floral patterns) of the Synodal Printing building which perfectly fits the architecture of Nikolskaya street. Be assured that this is one of the most exceptional complexes in whole Moscow ! BTW, The state monopoly on publishing continued until 1783 when some private publishing was permitted with great reluctance, although the state continued to exercise complete control through censorship. Some reforms occurred in 1861, but it was not until 1905 that greater freedom of the press was granted.
180 m. further SW, along Nikolskaya street, we arrive to the Zaikonospassky Monastery (Заиконоспасский монастырь), Nikolskaya Ulitsa 7-9 (after passing the Revolution Square Metro station on our left, east). This monastery was founded by Boris Godunov in 1600. The church was built a bit later, in 1660. The Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich ordered, in 1687, to open Latin-teaching Academy on the monastery premises. The academy later became a divinity school and was transferred to the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius in 1814. After being closed for more than 90 years, the monastery has recently reopened (in 2010). In the courtyard you will see the main attraction of Zaikonospassky monastery, the Spassky Cathedral (Cathedral of the Savior Not-Made-By-Hands) which has survived so far. It was built in the middle of the courtyard of the monastery in 1660 by Prince Volkonski by order of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. This is one of the best monuments of Moscow Baroque of Peter the Great era. The now-functioning, multitiered Saviour Church is tucked into the courtyard away from the street. The name Zaikonospassky comes from the fact that the monastery stood behind the icon row on Nikolskaya street. Note: the Monastery was under reconstruction along Summer 2015:
Retrace your steps, return back along Nikolskaya street (NOW, heading north-east) approx. 100 m. and turn RIGHT (another 90 m.) to Bogoyavlenskiy pereulok, 2. Here, you find the Epiphany Monastery or Cathedral (Богоявленский монастырь). This is the oldest monastery in Moscow. It was established by Grand Duke Daniil, first Prince of Moscow, in the late 13th Century, making it the oldest in the city. The first stone church was built on the site in 1342, and the monastery rapidly became one of the most important in Moscow, patronized by the Grand Dukes and later the Tsars. Ivan the Terrible was particularly generous to the institution, presenting the monks with money, lands and special taxation rights. The monastery was sacked by the White Horde in 1382, and damaged by fire at least four times in its long history. After the 1917 revolution the monastery was used first as a campus for the Mining Academy, and later as a metal works. In the 1950's, many of the monastery's buildings were destroyed to make way for an administrative block. Restoration work began in the 1980's and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the monastery was officially returned to the Russian Synod Church. The buildings that can be seen today include the Cathedral and the bell tower, the building of monastic cells (18th – 19th centuries), the rectory quarters (18th – 19th centuries). It is open for services. There is a small gift shop selling Russian Orthodox icon cards, religious objects, and books:
Opposite is an entrance to the Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square) Metro station. As we promised before, we retrace our steps and walk, again, along Nikolskaya street northward - until its end in Lubyanka Square. The Lubyanka Metro station is located under Lubyanka Square. Lubyanka Square or Lubyanskaya ploshchad (Лубянская площадь, ) is about 900 metres north-east of the Red Square. The name is first mentioned in 1480, when Tsar Ivan III settled many Novgorodians in the area. They built the church of St Sophia, modeled after St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod. The new resettled citizens called the area Lubyanka after the Lubyanitsy district of their native city Novgorod. At first glance the square could look rather formal. But, Lubyanka Square is best known for Aleksandr V. Ivanov's magnificent, monumental building from 1897–1898. It was originally used by the insurance company Rossiya, but it is better known for later housing the headquarters of the KGB agency and today housing that of the FSB, its successor. The name Lubyanka struck fear and terror into the hearts of several generations of Russians during the Communist years. It is the headquarters of the secret police (KGB) and has been a prison and place of torture and execution. In fact Catherine the Great’s secret police (the Okhrana) had their headquarters on this very spot. In the 19th century Lubyanka Square was a place for stables and dens for coachmen. Then in the 1890s it was the turn of insurance company office buildings. In the 1930s the area was developed as the secret police headquarters. The square was renamed Dzerzhinsky Square for many years (1926–1990) in honor of the founder of the Soviet security service, Felix Dzerzhinsky. Yevgeny Vuchetich's monumental statue of Dzerzhinsky (nicknamed Iron Felix) was erected in the center of the square in 1958. For several decades the six-metre statue of “Iron Felix’ Dzerzhinsky, the Cheka’s (the Bolshevik Party secret police from 1917 to 1921) founder, stood on a massive pedestal in the middle of Lubyanka Square. The night after the collapse of the 1991 coup crowds cheered as the statue was toppled with the aid of two cranes, its head in a wire noose, a symbol of the end of Soviet Communism. So, the word "lubyanka" allegorically was, and is, associated with the state security agencies. The square was the place not only for security services and the Russian aristocracy. In the past, foreigners started to populate it too, especially the French. That even influenced the name of the nearest Furkasovski side-street. There also is the Church of St. Louis of the French - the catholic temple in Moscow:
Opposite Hotel Nikolskaya there is a subway leading northward from Lubyanka Square to a special monument: a large stone brought from the Solovetsky Islands, the location of Solovki prison camp, part of the past Soviet Gulag system. On October 30, 1990, the Memorial organization erected a monument, the Solovetsky Stone (kamen), to the victims of the Gulag, a simple stone from the Solovetsky prison camp. In 1991 the statue of Dzerzhinsky was removed (see above) following the failure of the coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev, and the square's original name was officially restored. The memorial monument stands in the south-east edge of Lubyanka square - actually, in Novaya Square (ploschad) - in front of the Polythenic Museum (WHICH IS CLOSED). Note: In the far south end of Novaya Square is the Kitay-Gorod Metro station:
From the Solovetskiy Kamen, in the Lubyanka Square, we walk approx. 800 m. to our next destination: the Central Jewish Synagogue in Moscow (Moscow Choral Synagogue). It will be quite complex to navigate your way - since there are many reconstruction works along the the first sections of this walk. Head northeast on Lubyanka Square toward Lubyanskiy pr-d, 50 m. Turn right onto Lubyanskiy pr-d, 350 m. The Kitay-Gorod Metro station is quite close on your right. Turn left onto ul. Maroseyka, 170 m. Turn right onto Bolshoy Spasoglinishchevskiy per. and walk down 250 m. The Moscow Choral Synagogue or Moskovskaya evreyskaya religioznaya obshchina is in Bolshoy Spasoglinishchevskiy pereulok, 10. The "choral" part in the synagogue's name refers to the fact that it incorporates several different areas set aside for the use of Armenian, Bukharan or Georgian Jews visiting Moscow. The exterior of the Choral Synagogue features a large silver dome, yellow-and-white walls and a Neo-Classical facade. Across the street from the entrance is a modern sculpture centered on a golden hand. The recently-restored interior is a fine example of the Moorish style that can be seen in synagogues across Eastern Europe, with Arabesque moldings and murals. Also take note of the sculpture across the street (just opposite the synagogue building). There is a security detection before entering the temple. Open: everyday mornings (Saturday - religious service). IMPRESSIVE INTERIOR. Moving history behind the walls:
Continue south on Bolshoy Spasoglinishchevskiy per. until its end, toward ul. Zabelina, 170 m. Turn right onto the subway and walk until its end WESTWARD to Solyanskiy pr-d, 99 m. Slight left toward Slavyanskaya Square, 50 m. Continue up onto Slavyanskaya Square, 80 m and continue onto Ulica Varvarka, 200 m. From here, Ulica Varvarka climbs up. Ulitsa Varvarka is the oldest street in Moscow. In itself - a touristic attraction. Even if it is a short street - it includes more churches than any other street in Moscow (part or most of them are closed). This the heart of the district known as Zaryade, which was once the dwelling place of the artisans who sold their wares on Red Square. in 1380, it was the road down which a victorious Dmitry Donskoy paraded after defeating the Mongols at the Battle of Kulikovo Field. In 1671, Stepan Razin, the Cossack rebel, who headed a major uprising (1670-1671) against the nobility and Tsarist bureaucracy in southern Russia, was led along it to his execution.
Our first destination in Varvarka street is the St. George Church (Tserkov Georgiya na Pskovskoy Gorke) (St. Georgius church) at Varvarka St., 12. This one was built in 1658. It seems a pity that this is not one of Moscow's reconsecrated churches. It was restored 50 years ago and, since then, never refurbished for many many years. A massive reconstruction has started at 2014. So, a good chance - this marvelous church is CLOSED. The story of St George and his dragon-slaying feat captured the imagination of many Christian leaders, with the result that he was adopted as the patron saint of more than one country or town. Moscow was one of them and you will see icons of the St. George everywhere. The blue and gold domes of the church next to the Boyar House on ulitsa Varvarka mark one of the churches dedicated to him in the city. Built by Pskov architects who worked in the Kremlin. It suffered greatly during invasion of Napoleon’s army in 1812. The church was restored in 1818, a large refectory, which was twice as large, was attached to the church from the west, open arcade porch and two-level bell tower (all in pseudo-Gothic style) were attached to the church from the north, the upper level of the bell tower was built in Empire style. It is a quadrangular craft church of the 17th century. The church is dark red with 4 blue domes decorated with golden stars and higher central golden dome:
With your face to the west in Varvarks street and St. George church on your left - turn right and climb up the narrow Ipatevsky pereulok, which leads to several government and administrative buildings:
Turn right to pereulok Nikitnikov, 3. To the right is one of Moscow's best-preserved 17th-century churches, the Church of the Trinity in Nikitinov (Tserkov Troitsy v Nikitnikach) or The Church of Life-Giving Trinity (Georgian icon of the Mother of God). A wonderful piece of architecture, with superb colours. Overshadowed by bland government buildings, stands one of Moscow's loveliest churches. It is an exuberant collection of onion domes, decorative detail and contrasting colors. Construction of the church, funded by the local merchant Grigory Nikitinov, was completed in 1653. In Soviet times the church was eventually converted into a museum. The interior has recently undergone extensive repair work. Inside, walls are decorated with 17th century stunning religious frescoes by the famous Simon Ushakov. For the near future - the church is CLOSED:
Return down to the Varvarks street. At No. 8-10 are the The Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "The Sign" and The Palace of the Romanov Boyars, Palaty Romanovych v Zaryadye. It is here were the Romanovs family lived in the 16th century. The first Tsar of the Romanov dynasty Mikhail was believed to be born in this house in 1596. Today it is a museum devoted to the Russian nobility's lifestyle of the 16th-17th centuries. The building of the Romanov house was reconstructed several times. In the 17th and 18th century the house was slowly falling into decay. The old "palace" was not comfortable for the ruling Tsars. The situation improved only in the 19th century. In 1856 the emperor Alexander II arrived in Moscow for the coronation. When visiting the old family estate he was horrified with its poor condition and ordered to restore it. A few years later it was reconstructed by the architect Richter and a memorial museum of Romanov family was opened here. It's unbelievablek that the museum survived the Soviet era. There were plans to shut it down. But in 1923 the building was reopened under a new name: "the house of the XVII century nobleman". The objective was to demonstrate the contrasting life of the noble class and their servants. Only after the Perestroyka the original name of the Romanov's chamber was returned. From Varvarka street - you can see only the highest part of the palace - since it is built on a steep slope (leading to Moskva river). Open: MON, THU, FRI, SAT, SUN 10.00 - 18.00,. Closed on Tuesdays and the first Monday of each month. Price: 250 rubles. You have to go down (south) through the stairs from Varvarka street. The entrance is from the southern (lowest) side of the complex:
The street WAS dominated by the Rossia Hotel (Varvarka, 6), a monumental glass and concrete block with 3,200 rooms that was built in the late sixties and is now under demolition - although for guests it provided the best views in the city. The Rossiya Hotel officially closed its doors on January 1, 2006. The project is being overseen by British architect Sir Norman Foster and includes plans for a new, two thousand room hotel with apartments and a parking garage. The erection of what was then the largest hotel in the world necessitated the destruction of most of the Zaryade region, including a number of ancient churches, and the rest of the street survives as a taste of what the whole are stretching down to the banks of the river must once have looked like. But, in October 2006 the Russian Supreme Arbitration Court has cancelled the results of a tender to reconstruct the Rossiya hotel. During summer 2015 the whole complex was covered with scaffolding.
Note: the following attractions in Varvarks street - are also under a danger of demolition - due to the massive development works carried out in this location, which borders the Gostiny Dvor and the Red Square southern premises (St. Basil Cathedral).
The next attraction, with our face to the west, is the the English Court in Varvarks 4. But, we shall deal, first, with another church in Varvarka. At #2 stands the pink and white St. Barbara’s Church. It stands opposite the back side of the Gostiny Dvor (see below). Immediately west to this church start the hassle and bustle of large-scale construction works in Moskovskiy ul. (Москворецкая ул.). St. Barbara, who was purportedly killed by her father for her Christian beliefs somewhere in Asia Minor around the beginning of the fourth century, was traditionally considered in Moscow to be the patron saint of merchants, and it was originally merchants from the south who lived in the area and ordered the building of the church. The Church of St. Barbara was designed in 1514 by the famed Italian architect Alevise Friazin, who is also known as the chief designer of the majestic Archangel Cathedral in Kremlin.
Next to the church is the English Court, also known as the Old English Embassy (Varvarka, 4). One of the oldest secular buildings in Moscow and the less-visited ones. Originally a palace built for the wealthy merchant Bobrishchev at the turn of the 16th Century, it was soon after taken by Ivan the Terrible and presented to the Muscovy Company, a delegation of English merchants who arrived in Murmansk in 1553 under the command of Richard Chanellor, aiming to get a share of the lucrative fur trade. The whole story of Russia-Britain relations in the 16th century is very interesting. Despite the initial welcome, the third English envoy to Ivan's court found himself under house arrest when the increasingly mad Tsar's efforts to win Elizabeth I's hand in marriage were repeatedly denied. Less than a century later, when Charles I was defeated by Oliver Cromwell's troops and executed, Tsar Aleksei expelled the English traders in disgust. Restored to its original design during the building of the Rossia Hotel in the sixties of the 20th century, the English Court was opened as a museum to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II's state visit (with her husband Philip) in 1994 in Moscow. Remember that It is the oldest civic building in Moscow (1555). A branch of the History Museum of Moscow. Price: 50 Rubles. Open: TUE - WED 10.00 - 20.00, THU 11.00 - 21.00, FRI - SUN 10.00 - 20.00. Closed - Mondays and last Friday of every month. Tickets for the Museum of History: Adult 200 rubles, Children 100 rubles.
Sharing the same address as the English Court, the Church of St. Maksim (Varvarka, 4a) is a 17th Century structure, built with merchants' funds, that takes its name from a celebrated holy fool who was buried in the original wooden church on the same site. The fact that the church was built almost three hundred years ago makes us take another look at this modest building. The church’s bell tower is famous in Moscow for being visibly off-center, known as the city’s ‘leaning tower’. The interior is better than the exterior. The church is closed. No entry.
With your face to the west (to the Kremlin walls and to the descent from St. Basil Cathedral) - you see the back side of the Moscow Gostiny Dvor. The entrance is from Llyinka ul 4. (the parallel road, from the north, to Varvarka street) (you'll see the entrance while walking back to the Kitay-Gorod Metro station). Gostiny Dvor was the most famous financial centre of Moscow in the past. The entire block is occupied by the old Merchants’ Court, or Gostiny Dvor (Гостиный двор), 4, Ilynka street, which is now filled with shops and restaurants. This is an elegant late Baroque trading arcade designed by Giacomo Quarenghi. The building was begun in 1791, and completed forty years later. Originally, the building was used for wholesale trade by merchants from out of town, who lived in the building and stored the goods they had brought to sell there (hence the name 'gostiny dvor', which translates roughly as 'guests' court'). In the end of the Communist era the building underwent major restorations which lasted over the last decade, and the Gostiny Dvor has now reopened as a luxury mall and exhibition centre, housing amongst other things the Barkhat Casino. During renovation work, a wealth of archaeological finds was dug up beneath the building's foundations, and is now on permanent display in the exhibition centre inside. Gostiny Dvor is a historic Russian term for an indoor market, or shopping centre. We shall also see the southern facade of the Gostiny Dvor from Varvarka street (see below). The exhibit hall is open daily, MON - SAT from 11.00 until 17.00:
The Gostiny Dvor southern facade in Varvarka Street:
Raise your eyes and admire the majestic view of St. Basil Cathedral southern facade with its moats and towers (partially blocked by ugly construction benches and steel walls):
You can choose between return to your hotel by catching the Metro now OR continuing westward (and, later, southward) to Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent) to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge over the Moskva river - below the Kremlin walls. You can combine this route with the "From Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge - along Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka Churches" itinerary/blog.
It is 750-800 m. walk back to Kitay-Gorod Metro station. Head east on Ulica Varvarka/ul. Varvarka toward Rybnyy per., 85 m. Turn left onto Rybnyy per., 280 m. Turn right onto ul. Ilyinka (now, the Gostiny Dvor main entrance is to your right), 300 m. Continue onto pl. Ilyinskiye Vorota
85 m. The Kitay-Gorod Metro station is on your right.