Walking by foot along the center of Moscow

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Promenade in the center of Moscow.

Here I am greeting you, dear readers. Today we are going to have a great walk by foot along the historical center of Moscow. And probably we will discover something new and interesting about our beloved Moscow city.

The route of our promenade will lie through the old streets and squares of Russia’s capital: Bol’shaya Ordynka (The Big Ordynka), Vasylevsky slope, Red Square, Alexandrovsky garden, Vozdvyzhenka Street, Arbat, Monetary lane, Prechystenka Street.

We start our promenade near metro station Tretyakovskaya, where we walk up to Bol’shaya Ordynka (Big Ordynka) Street and move forward to Bol’shoj Moskvoretsky Bridge. Bol’shaya Ordynka Street –is one of the most ancient streets of Zamoskvorechie district, where most part of buildings in Ordynka are  considered to be heritage asset of 18-19 centuries.

The street had achieved its name- as it was the way to Orda(hordes). That was the place where chagan ambassadors and people collecting tribute for hordes were staying at.

We are coming closer to Raushskaya embankment; from one side we have a view of the Big Moskvoretsky Bridge, which is one of the most ancient waftages over Moscow river and it’s leading right to the heart of the city. And to the right one can see one of the most awesome buildings in Moscow, so-called between people:  «Skyscrapers of Stalin».

Stalin’s skyscrapers are seven high twin-buildings well-known by the Moscow citizens. It was built in Moscow at the end of 1940-s — beginning of 1950-s.

Why they are called «Stalin’s»? Just it was order of Stalin: «About construction of multistorey block buildings in Moscow», where the plan of 8 multistory buildings  was described, that was supposed to symbolize 800 years anniversary since foundation of Moscow, and this even was supposed to take place in 1947.

Though there only seven skyscrapers have been built, and the eight one, near Kitay gorod(China city) was not completed because of Stalin’s death. Later at its place instead of skyscraper «Russia» Hotel was built; time was not friendly to this building. Now there is fenced wasteland.

Where are seven famous Stalin’s skyscrapers located?

«Ukraine» Hotel, residential house at  Kotel’nychesky embankment, the main building of Moscow University at  Vorob’yevy hills, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, residential house at Kudrinskaya Square, administrative-domestic building near «Kranye Vorota»(The red gates), Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya

*By the way, one can see all 7 skyscrapers from the Vorob’yevy mountains.

And we are walking further along the bridge over the river. And here, spread before our eyes, The Kremlin of Moscow appears at its best, coming up from the bridge along Vasil’yevsky downhill to the Red square.

And the first thing one can see is the Spassky tower and Kremlin’s gates- is famous Chiming Clock, in accordance with which all people synchronize their watches in our huge mother-country.

Spassky tower of Moscow’s Kremlin

The Spassky tower (Spasskaya bashnya) of the Kremlin of Moscow was built in 1491 by Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solarie. Since then, the tower was several times partly destroyed, rebuilt and renovated. In 1625 the chiming clock had been established at its top. At that times it was showing time and playing music. During many centuries clockwork mechanism had been changed several times, and the chiming clock were making very different melodies like, for instance: «Oh, my lovely Augustin», marsh of Preobrazhensky regiment, «As glorious is our God in Sion», «The Internationale», «Be honoured» (by Glynky’s opera «Ivan Susanin»), and at the moment it produces the current anthem of Russia.

For a few centuries up to 1937  The Spassky tower was crowned by Imperial Eagle- symbol of autocratic government in Russia. During the last 75 years, on the top of the tower there is ruby-red coloured star, inside of which there is powerful electric lamp, illuminating twenty-four hours. The shaft of star rays is 3,75 meters.

Below is the photo of Red Square dated 1928, where mausoleum of Lenin is still flinty. And at the Spassky tower there is two headed imperial eagle instead of ruby coloured star. By the way, flinty variant (of stone) – that was the second version of mausoleum, the first one was wooden.

Spassky gates

Spassky gates, located inside the Spassky tower, were always the main entrance to the Kremlin. In accordance with tradition, one could pass by the gates only by foot and also one had to take his headwear off before entering Kremlin. The ceremony of crowning of all tsars, Crux Procession traditionally were taking place through these gates; regiments were leaving for going to the battles through these gates as well; also foreign ambassadors were met with honour near the Spassky gates.

Interesting fact: while taking over Moscow in 1812, famous Napoleon’s tricorn hat was blown out with the wind from emperor’s head, when he was entering Spassky gates riding a horse in shut down by him Moscow. From that moment the luck turned away from the emperor of France.

St. Basil Cathedral

Very bright symbol of our Moscow is Saint Basil the Blessed Cathedral. Orthodox temple, known as well as Pokrovsky cathedral, founded in 1555-1561 by order of Ivan Grozny in honour of taking over Kazan’ and overthrow of Kazan khanate.

There exist different versions of who was the architect of the given creation. According to one version it was creative union of both Russian and Italian architects. Therefore the cathedral has features of both Russian art of building and of Renaissance epoch. Also, according to another version, after foundation of such wonderful cathedral,following the order of Ivan Grozny architects were made blind, so then they would never ever be able to create such beautiful temple anywhere else.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, at the moment, is affiliated branch of historical museum. In front of the cathedral there is monument for folk heroes Mynyn and Pozharsky, who saved Russia from polish invasion in 17th century.

Since old times Red Square was square of trade rows and the central point of trade in Moscow. As long as all trade rows and constructions were made of wood, there had place a lot of fire accidents at red square, in those times people even called square “the Fire”. Later there were built stone-made trade rows and the square has got its name as Red, meaning “beautiful”.

Red Square (Krasnaya Ploschad’). The place for execution, mausoleum, historical museum.

One of the most ancient and still existing nowadays monuments at Red Square is the so-called Place of execution. Many people consider this place was used for making executions in previous times, but also one of the most important reasons for using this place before–was announcement of Tsar’s proclamations for the Moscow citizens.

Since 1818 Red Square was no longer the trade one and became the square for  ceremonies and folk festivals. And after revolution in October 1917 it has gained memorial meaning. In 1917 according to the order of  Lenin V.I red army soldiers were buried here (those who have died in a revolutionary battles for Moscow). Thus Lenin had put beginning of creating necropolis on the territory of Red Square, where he himself became then one of the main objects after his death in 1924. During Soviet times Red Square was used for military parades and demonstrations.


Red Square with us

At the moment many people can walk here, they make different concerts, organize celebrations and parades.  And a few years at a time in winter season they make a huge icerink there.


At the moment many people can walk here, they make different concerts, organize celebrations and parades.  And a few years at a time in winter season they make a huge icerink there.

On the opposite side of Red Square, from the Cathedral of St. Basil (Vasily Blazhenny), one can find the Historical Museum. Along with there is a note: «A zero kilometer of auto roads of Russian Federation». Remarkable, that according to international tradition of zero kilometers the counting out itself of all roads in Russia begins from the building of central Telegraph, located close by in Tverskaya Street.

In front of historical museum there is monument of famous soviet commander George Zhukov. Marshall Zhukov appears in front of our eyes  riding the horse in its military uniform and in all his medals and rewards.

By the way, not everyone knows that monuments with person riding a horse are symbols of military captain or commander. And position of horse’s legs can tell you the way how this man had died.

In case the horse has two front legs up – it means that this man bravely died in the battle. In case a horse has only one leg up, it means that commander had died of injuries, received in the battle. In case the horse is standing with all four his legs on the ground it means that this person has died naturally.

Alexandrovsky garden

And we go further to Alexandrovsky garden. While entering the garden, to the left we can see the memorial to Unknown soldier, created in 1967. This was the place where the mortal remains of unknown soldier were buried. He has died fighting for Moscow. It’s written there on a granite slab: “Your name is unknown. Your heroic deed is ever living”.


In honour of dead soldiers there is eternal fire burning near this memorial. In 1997 according to President’s order  the post № 1 was moved from Mausoleum of Lenin to this memorial. Presidential regiment soldiers stand in guard of honour and exchange each other periodically.

We are walking the road of Alexandrovsky garden. Here one can have rest under the hundred years old oaks and beautiful dwarf birches, sit on the grass, enjoy the bright meadow of flowers.

Very soon, while walking, we will face famous library named after Lenin, which in 1994 has received its new name: Russian State Library. There is monument of Dostoevsky F.M. in front of library’s building, the facade of library is still decorated with golden coloured note:  Lenin State Library of USSR.

Library is the biggest bookish storage and public library in Russia, here one can find rare, unique, printed and hand-written publishing . According to the law, in obligatory way here should be saved 1 sample of any printed book published in Russia.

Then we are walking along Vozdvizhenka Street and we come up to the New Arbat (Novyj Arbat).  Here there is the Ministry of Defense of Russia. Then and there, on Arbatskaya Square there is the oldest movie theatre Khudozhestvenny. Since 1909 for already over 100 years, cinema lives here.

And we are crossing Boulevard Ring (Bul’varnoe Kol’tso) using pedestrian subway and turn to Old Arbat (Stary Arbat) – famous Old Moscow street.


“Your pedestrians, they’re small people now
On the pavement knocking heels, hurrying to business
Ah Arbat, my Arbat, you’re my one religion”,-
(B. Sh. Okudzhava, «The Arbat Song»)

Arbat – is the street, loved by many Moscow citizens and guests of the capital. This is the street of poets, musicians, artists and many different creative people. This is the street with its wonderful fairy tale and unique atmosphere, remaining here to be nowadays.


Trolley cafe

book bazaars

Grandma feeding pigeons

Word “Arbat” comes from arabian «arbad», meaning «peri-urban area». As long as in old times Arbat was located too far from Moscow center, and was considered to be its uptown, outskirts. Since XVI century Arbat was inhabited by handicraft workers, the names of its lanes confirm us this fact. Carpenter’s lane was inhabited by carpenters, in Silver lane — there lived masters of Silver arts, at Monetary lane — there lived workers of State Monetary Yard.

From 1736 Arbat becomes one of the most aristocratic streets of Moscow. Here lived famous Russian noble families — Tolstoy, Rostopchyn, Gagarin, Dolgoruky, Kropotkyn, Sheremetev, Golytsyn.

Whoever lived in Arbat in ulterior: Pushkin A.S., Gogol’ N.V., Tolsnoy L.N., Saltykov-Schedryn M., Aksakovy brothers, Chekhov A.P. and other famous people.

On the photo below Arbat is shown as it was in 1959, at that time it used to take it’s beginning from Khudozhestvenny cinema theatre. As you can see, there was real drive way and even trolley-buses used to go here.

During the period of 1974 till 1986, they started to make Arbat totally pedestrian zone, — the first pedestrian street of Moscow. A lot of detached houses were differently coloured, they have founded there a lot of shops and cafeterias.

Walking along the whole Arbat we will turn to the Monetary lane – this is the street, as we have mentioned above, was named after monetary masters of the State monetary yard, who had had lived here. Whichever name this street has got after: Yermolov lane, Plescheyev lane (names of house owners) and Pokrovsky lane, because of Pokrova(Holy Protection) church in Lyevshyn. During soviet times there appeared Vesnyna Street name after Vesnyny architects, who lived here. Nowadays its primary name «The monetary lane» was given to this place.

After Monetary lane, we come up to the old Moscow street- Prechystenka, along which we walk down to Gogol avenue and to the  Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Prechystenka is not crowded and it’s quite street, the name of which was in honour of icon of Pure Mother of God given in 1658, placed at  the Novo-Devichi Convent. At the end of 18 centuries, Prechystenka was settled on by Moscow  noble society. Surnames of its famous house owners one can observe in the names of its lanes: — Vsevolozhsky, Lopukhynsky, Yeropkynsky.

trolley bus number 15

Christ the Saviour Cathedral

Meanwhile we come closer to The Cathedral of Christ The Saviour. The original version of this cathedral was   founded in 1839 and totally finished in 44 years at 1883, in honour of the victory over Napoleon in the war of 1812 and in glory of Russian soldiers, who have saved the mother land. Below here is the photo of the original versions of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, made in 1881.


In 1931 the cathedral was destroyed by the communists, thus to built at this place the Palace of the Soviets, which wasn’t built as long as the Second world war has taken its beginning in 1941. The cathedral was blown up, its remains locals were gathering for over two more years, for the most part of Moscowite of that time it was real vandalism.

During the soviet time, from 1960-1994, there was open pool of Moscow, functioning at the place of the cathedral. In 1994-1997 years the Christ the Saviour Cathedral was rebuilt according to its original version and at the same place. The Cathedral of Christ The Saviour is headquarters of  Moscow’s Patriarchate. This is the biggest cathedral in Russia, admitting about 10 000 people at a time.

There is Partiarshy Bridge at the southern side of the cathedral – it’s for pedestrians, built in 2004, archaicized. A few years at a time, President’s new year’s greeting was made from the Patriarshy bridge.

Thereon our foot-walk along the center of Moscow is coming to its end, in case you have some energy left- you can go to Pushkin’s museum (The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts), which is right in front of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. This museum is considered to be the most famous and the richest for European and world arts. The museum was founded in 1912, it means that in 2012 The Pushkin Fine Arts museum has celebrated its 100 years anniversary since its foundation.

Thank you for your attention. We hope you enjoyed our walk by foot along the center of Moscow and you have learnt something new for you. Please, write us down your comments below the article what favourite streets you have for promenades in Moscow?

With respect, the authors of the travel-blog Living the dream — Alexander, Natalia and daughter Yaroslava.

Find comfortable accommodation in Moscow here. Interesting hotels in Moscow:

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