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Moscow Walking Tour
Compiled by Dan Yates. Last updated in February, 2009.
(Refer to the numbered map on page 5. Allow 3 to 4 hours.)
1. Pushkin Square and Statue of Alexander Pushkin (1799�1837)�The hotel shuttle drops you at the northwest corner of the square. Use the underground passage to access the square and the statue. Pushkin was Russia�s foremost poet and is considered the founder of modern Russian literature. His writings include Evgeny Onegin, Boris Godunov, and Ruslan and Ludmilla. In 1837, while living in Saint Petersburg, Pushkin challenged Georges d'Anth�s to a duel over the honor of Pushkin�s beautiful wife Natalya Goncharova. Both men were wounded, Pushkin mortally. The statue was unveiled in 1880 with authors Fyoder Dostoevsky and Ivan Turgenev in attendance. Originally, the statue was placed on the other side of Tverskaya Ulitsa. Stalin had it moved to its current location after demolishing the 17th century Convent of the Passion to make way for the Rossiya Theater, a huge film complex that today doubles as a casino (directly behind Pushkin�s statue).
2. Tverskaya Ulitsa�originally, Moscow�s main street connected the Kremlin with the town of Tver, a center of power in the 13th century. By the 19th century, it had become Moscow�s center of culture and fashion. In 1930, Stalin ordered it widened by 42 meters and had its name changed to Gorkovo Ulitsa (Gorky Street) in honor of Russian and later Soviet writer Maxim Gorky (1868�1936), whose long career included Children of the Sun. Written in 1905, this play foretold the Russian Revolution that was to occur in the next decade. The play was so realistic that actors had to come out of character to remind Petersburg audiences that it was just fiction lest they be overcome with panic. Many of Tverskaya Ulitsa�s original buildings were torn down to make way for Soviet style apartment blocks housing bureaucrats. Others were rebuilt to accommodate the wider roadway. The street got back its original name in 1990 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorky was out of favor at that time because of his socialist realist writing style and his having embraced Soviet doctrine.
3. Yeliseev�s Food Hall�around 1820, this building was the home of Countess Zinaida Volkonskaya, a talented poet, writer, and singer who Pushkin called a �regal queen of muses and beauty�. He and other Moscow illuminati attended the lavish parties she threw in this house. In 1898, Grigoriy Yeliseev purchased the house, added many of the ornate details, and converted it to a grocery store. Notice the bust of Yeliseev in the entry hall and explore the lavish interior of this remarkable store.
4. Statue of Yuri Dolgoruky�Prince Yuri Dolgoruky (1099�1157) moved the seat of Russian power from Kyiv to Vladimir Suzdal near Moscow. He founded Moscow in 1147 when he called a meeting here with a neighboring prince. In 1156, he fortified the town with wooden walls and a moat, creating the predecessor of today�s Kremlin. Though he had consolidated power around Moscow, he coveted and eventually ruled Kyiv (the old capital of Rus) earning him the moniker �Dolgoruky�, meaning �of the long arm�. The statue was erected to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Moscow, although the unveiling was delayed until 1954.
5. Tass Offices�the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union was the center of control for all news, external and internal. It was controlled by the NKVD and later by the KGB.
6. Bolshoi Theater�this �big� theater is the third reconstruction after the first two burned down. It was completed in 1856. On the roof of the portico is a statue of Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun. The Bolshoi is undergoing a complete restoration inside and out, and it is due to reopen in 2009. In the interim, the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera Companies hold performances in the New Theater situated on the left side of the Bolshoi Theater.
7. Statue of Karl Marx�Karl Heinrich Marx (1818�1883) was the Prussian philosopher who is considered the �Father of Communism�. He published the Communist Manifesto in 1848. One famous passage from the Manifesto:
The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
The inscription on the pedestal translates: �Workers of the World, Unite.�
8. Statue of Marshal Georgy Zhukov (1896�1974)�Zhukov led the Russian counteroffensive against Germany in the Great Patriotic War (WW II). He captured and occupied Berlin in April, 1945. Zhukov is a controversial figure, having been made Four Times Hero of the Soviet Union and having been vilified in Russia and abroad for his brutal tactics and apparent disregard for the lives of his men. The statue was unveiled in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War. Zhukov is shown astride the white stallion he rode in the Moscow Victory Parade on 24 June 1945. Nazi symbols are being trampled under the hooves of Zhukov�s horse.
9. Resurrection Gate�completed in 1680, this gate houses the Chapel of the Iverian Virgin, home to an important icon. Tsars would pray in the chapel before entering the Kremlin. The present gate is an exact replica, the original having been demolished in 1931. One of the mosaics on the gate depicts Moscow�s patron, Saint George, slaying a dragon.
10. Kazan Cathedral�was built in the 1630�s at the direction of Prince Dmitri Pozharsky after he returned Moscow to Russian control by expelling Polish interlopers from the Kremlin. It was intended to house the most venerated of all Russian icons, Our Lady of Kazan. Pozharsky believed that his daily prayers to this icon had led him to success against the Polish army. After it had been rebuilt several times over the centuries, Stalin ordered the Kazan Cathedral demolished in 1936 as part of his plan to �clear Red Square of churches� and turn it into a military parade ground. Saint Basil�s Cathedral narrowly escaped a similar fate. Kazan Cathedral was rebuilt in 1990 using plans from an earlier reconstruction.
This is a good place to experience a traditional Russian Orthodox service as they are held here every day at 5 pm. Distinguishing features of the Orthodox service: no seats--worshippers stand the whole time, iconostasis (icon wall) separates the public part of the church from the alter, accessible only by priests, no organ or other musical instruments�music consists of polyphonic singing, specific icons are venerated for their specific powers.
11. Red Square�got its name from the Russian word for beautiful (krasny), which also means �red�. It dates to the end of the 15th century, when Tsar Ivan III ordered the houses in this area cleared to make way for the square. Through much of its history, Red Square was home to wooden market stalls, which had a propensity for burning down. Before the revolution, the Patriarch (Russia�s highest priest) would ride an ass along Red Square on Palm Sunday to commemorate Christ�s entry into Jerusalem. In Soviet times, Red Square was used for military parades such as the Victory Parade of 1945. In May, 2008, Russia held its annual parade celebrating victory in the Great Patriotic War, and military vehicles were seen in the square for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
12. Lenin�s Tomb�Lenin�s body was preserved against his wishes after his death in 1924. The tomb is open to the public from 10 to 1 on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are rumors that Lenin will be moved to a private cemetery more befitting his stated wishes. At the foot of the Kremlin wall outside the tomb are buried many other prominent Soviets including Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, and Yuri Gagarin. Stalin originally occupied the tomb next to Lenin, but he was moved outside in the late 1950�s when his regime fell out of favor with the current Soviet government.
13. Statue of Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky�Tsar Ivan the Terrible killed his only competent son in 1581, ensuring that Russia would fall into the Time of Troubles. After Ivan�s death and the unsuccessful rule of his incompetent son Feodor, there were two pretenders to the Russian throne, backed by Poland, called �False Dmitiris�, who claimed to be Ivan�s first son. The real Dmitri likely died at the age of nine. The second False Dmitri occupied the Kremlin in 1612 as a front for Poland. Kuzma Minin, a successful butcher from nearby Nizhny Novgorod, and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky led the volunteer army that liberated Moscow from the Poles and expelled the second False Dmitri from the Kremlin. The statue was erected in 1818 following Russia�s successful expulsion of Napoleon Bonaparte from the Kremlin and eventually from Russia.
14. Lobnoe Mesto�this circular platform on Red Square was used by tsars and patriarchs (religious leaders similar to popes) to address public gatherings. It was also used to display the body of the first �False Dmitri� after he was expelled from the Kremlin and mutilated by an angry mob.
15. Kremlin�Yuri Dalgoruky chose the site at the meeting of the Moskva and Neglinnaya Rivers to build the first wooden Kremlin (fortress) in 1156. The Neglinnaya is no longer visible as it runs underground in a pipe along the west wall of the Kremlin. In the 15th century, Ivan III brought in Italian architects to redo the Kremlin. They are responsible for the walls, towers, and the Cathedral of the Assumption. The prominent clock tower near Saint Basil�s is Savior�s Tower, which rises above the original entrance to the Kremlin, now used for official business only. Under Stalin, the Kremlin was closed and several of its architectural treasures were destroyed. Today, it is again open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm, Friday through Wednesday (tickets required). Its wonders include three Cathedrals, the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, and the State Armory museum (separate ticket). The ticket office and public entrance are on the west side of the Kremlin (the side opposite Red Square). Explore inside the Kremlin on a different day.
16. Saint Basil�s Cathedral�Tsar Ivan the Terrible had this church built to commemorate the Russian victory over the Mongols in Kazan in 1552. It was designed by Architect Postnik Yakovlev and was completed in 1561. Legend has it that Ivan, overwhelmed by the beauty of Yakovlev�s design, asked him if he thought he could ever accomplish anything even more splendid. When Yakovlev answered �possibly�, Ivan ordered him blinded. Originally called the Cathedral of the Intercession in recognition of the Kazan victory having occurred on the day of the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin, it leant its popular name �krasny� (beautiful/red) to the nearby square.
17. Moskva River�this 500 kilometer long river gave its name to the city that lies on its banks. Downstream, it is possible to reach the Volga and eventually the Caspian Sea. Upstream, man-made canals permit large boats to navigate to Saint Petersburg and the Gulf of Finland. Local cruise boats are a popular attraction in the summer months.
18. Red October Chocolate Factory�founded by German immigrant Teodore Ferdinand von Einem in 1850, the factory was nationalized in 1918 under the name �State Confectionery Factory #1, Former Einem�. In 1922, it was renamed �Red October Chocolate Factory�. Today it is a thriving concern due in part to various international joint ventures.
19. Cathedral of Christ the Savior�built between 1839 and 1883, the original cathedral celebrated Russia�s miraculous victory over Napoleon. At over 100 meters in height, it was the tallest building in Moscow at the time. It was built of Italian marble and contained many beautiful frescoes. In 1931, Stalin had it demolished to make way for his Palace of the Soviets, a skyscraper that would be higher than the Empire State Building and would be topped with a 100 meter high statue of Lenin. After digging the foundation hole, the government abandoned the project for lack of funds. The hole was converted to an outdoor public swimming pool, the largest in the world. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1994 at a cost of 200 million dollars, mostly public funds, in spite of a bad economy at that time.
20. Statue of Peter the Great�designed by Zurab Tseretelli, this 96 meter statue was completed in 1997. It is the sixth tallest statue in the world. The story goes that it was originally a statue of Columbus atop his three ships that Tseretelli had hoped to sell to New York City. When he could find no takers in America, Tseretelli appealed to his friend, Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov, who agreed to purchase it and put it up along the Moscow River, provided that the face could be changed to that of Peter the Great. Tseretelli received a number of lucrative contracts through his friendship with Luzhkov, including the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The statue is doubly ironic because Peter, a nautical enthusiast and founder of the Russian Navy, did not like landlocked Moscow and had a new capital constructed by slave labor, which he named Saint Petersburg. He moved the Russian capital to Saint Petersburg in 1713, and it did not return to Moscow until 1918.
21. Kropotkinskaya Metro Station�a convenient place from which to catch the metro or a taxi.
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