The Boulevard RingRussian: Bulvarnoye koltso or Бульварное кольцо is a wonderful place for a stroll in Moscow. Picturesque greenery, wide walkways, modern cycle paths… The most picturesque boulevards – Gogolevsky, Nikitsky, Tverskoy – flow one into another. There are numerous artworks and historical landmarks. There are comfortable benches placed strategically along all boulevards, as well as bike rental places and children’s playgrounds. The best theatres and restaurants can also be found in this district. The walkways often serve as a venue for open air photography exhibitions, fairs and festivals.
Gogolevsky boulevardRussian: Gogolevskiy bulvar or Гоголевский бульвар dates back to the 1780s, after the defensive walls of the White CityRussian: Bely Gorod or Белый Город had been destroyed. Gogolevsky boulevard starts from Prechistensky Gate SquareRussian: ploschad Prechistenskiye vorota or площадь Пречистенские ворота. The gate to the White City used to be located here. PrechistenkaRussian: Пречистенка street used to run right up to the gate, serving as a road to the Novodevichy ConventRussian: Novodevichy monastyr or Новодевичий монастырь where the venerated icon of Our Lady of SmolenskRussian: Smolenskaya ikona Prechistoy Bozhey Materi or Смоленская икона Пречистой Божьей Матери was kept. In 1924, the boulevard was renamed ‘Gogolevsky’ to commemorate the 115th anniversary of writer N. Gogol.
Several beautiful streets run from Prechistensky Gate. These include: VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка (where the Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Khram Khrista Spasitelya or Храм Христа Спасителя and the Pushkin Fine Arts MuseumRussian: Gosudarstveny muzei izobrazitelnykh iskustv im. A. Pushkina or Государственный музей изобразительных искусств им. А.С. Пушкина are situated), PrechistenkaRussian: Пречистенка (with its small mansions, including the A. Pushkin and L. Tolstoy museums), OstozhenkaRussian: Остоженка (where Zachatievsky ConventRussian: Zachatievsky monastyr or Зачатьевский монастырь and the numerous monuments in the Art Nouveau style are located).
There is a gate shaped as a large arch connecting the two entrances to the KropotkinskayaRussian: Кропоткинская metro station (by architect S. Kravets, 1935) on the square. Its solemn style is reminiscent of Roman architectural traditions.
Among the buildings on Gogolevsky boulevard, there are quite a few interesting architectural landmarks, including Obolenskys-Nekrasovs’ estateRussian: usadba Obolenskih-Nekrasovyh or усадьба Оболенских-Некрасовых (at № 4/3), built at the end of the 18th century and rebuilt at the end of the 19th century. The building has a simple yet exquisite look. White “window surrounds” on the facade give the two storeys of the building a more cohesive look than they otherwise would have.
It is also in this boulevard that you can see Zamyatin-Tretiakov’s estateRussian: usadba Zamyatina-Tretyakova or усадьба Замятина-Третьякова (architect A. Kamensky, 18th century) at № 6/7. Initially, it was built in the late classicist style, however later, it was rebuilt in the Russian-Byzantine style. Despite the abundance of decorative elements, the arrangement of the facades remains precise and symmetrical as is typical of the Empire style. The house belonged to Sergei Tretyakov, one of the founders of the eponymous art gallery. It was in this building that a large collection of Russian paintings were kept. This collection subsequently laid the foundations for the collection which would eventually become the State Tretyakov GalleryRussian: Gosudarstvennaya Tretyakovskaya galereya or Государственная Третьяковская галерея.
Special notice should be paid to the house at № 8 (1929-30s, M. Barshch, I. Leonidov). At the time (during the 1920s), it was an innovative concept to build residential units with a view to enabling communal-style living. It was assumed that proper division of labour and adaptation to public life would create good living conditions for people in the new socialist state. As a result, architectural projects of the so called “house-communesRussian: дома-коммуны” sprang up around the city. These houses had communal dining rooms, shared lavatories and showers. It was thought that since people would not have to cook meals or take care of children on a daily basis, they would have a lot of free time which they could dedicate to self-development and socialising pursuits. Unfortunately, these ideas were not implemented in the best way: the apartments were minute and overcrowded, with long queues to use the lavatories. However, the inhabitants of 8, Gogolevsky boulevard were luckier than most, as the architects placed small lavatories in these flats.
There is a monument to writer Mikhail SholokhovRussian: pamyatnik pisatelyu Mihailu Sholohovu or памятник писателю Михаилу Шолохову on the boulevard (sculptor A. Rukavishnikov, 2007). The peculiar arrangement of the monument caused controversy among art critics, as the monument represents the writer crossing the river Don in a boat. Behind him, there are horses swimming different ways, as a symbol of the Civil Wara war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the Russian Revolutions of 1917, which divided the country into two opposing camps.
Another monument on this boulevard is dedicated to N. Gogol. Initially, there was a monument by N. Andreev here. The sculptor had represented N. Gogol as looking pensive and sad. However, in 1951, it was moved to the Donskoy ConventRussian: Donskoy monastyr or Донской монастырь and later placed in the courtyard of the N. Gogol memorial houseRussian: dom-muzey N.V. Gogolya or дом-музей Н.В. Гоголя on Nikitsky boulevardRussian: Nikitsky bulvar or Никитский бульвар. In 1952, 100 years after N. Gogol’s death, another monument, designed by N. Tomsky, appeared on the same site to commemorate the event.
Gogolevsky boulevard comes to an end on Arbat Gate squareRussian: ploshchad Arbatskikh vorot or площадь Арбатских ворот (again the name reflects the connection between the gate and the White City which used to be on this site). There is also the small church of Saints Boris and GlebRussian: khram Borisa i Gleba or храм Бориса и Глеба, the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian FederationRussian: Generalnyi shtab Ministerstva oborony or Генеральный штаб Министерства обороны, and one of the oldest cinemas in the city – Art cinemaRussian: Khudozhestvenny or Художественный (founded in 1909). Two of the most famous Moscow streets run from this square – the pedestrian Old ArbatRussian: Stary Arbat or Старый Арбат and the modern New ArbatRussian: Novy Arbat or Новый Арбат. This district is one of the most attractive in Moscow, with its large concentration of theatres, architectural monuments, as well as shops and restaurants.
Nikitsky boulevard was named after the Nikitsky ConventRussian: Nikitsky monastyr or Никитский монастырь, which was demolished in the 1930s (only one of its buildings survived in Big Kislovsky side-streetRussian: Bolshoy Kislovsky pereulok or Большой Кисловский переулок). The first thing that catches your attention as you walk is № 8A/3. It is now the House of JournalistsRussian: Dom zhurnalista or Дом журналиста. The building is representative of the architecture of the second half of the 19th century, but it is even more remarkable because it was one of the venues where A. Blok, V. Mayakovsky, and S. Yeseninfamous Russian poets recited their poems. There is a monument to war correspondents (by L. Kerbel, 1993) who worked during the World Wars. In the years of the Great Patriotic War1941-1945, journalists would leave for the battlefield directly from this boulevard.
Opposite the House of Journalists at № 7 is the N. Gogol memorial museum. Here, in the Tolstoys’ mansionRussian: osobnyak Tolstyh or особняк Толстых, he spent the last years of his life. It was in this house that he burned a bundle of his manuscripts, the final version of the second volume of the “Dead Souls” among them. In this house, too, he died soon afterwards. The monument by N. Andreev which used to stand on the Gogolevsky boulevard is now in the courtyard of the museum. It is installed on a high pedestal decorated with reliefs depicting characters from the writer’s works (such as characters from “Dead Souls”, “The Inspector General”, “Taras Bulba”). Gogol is sitting in a thoughtful posture with his head down. The sculptor was able to give the monument a life-like appearance but also to reflect the personality of the writer, philosopher and thought leader, who suffered a lot despite his selfless contribution to the literary arts.
Not far from here you will find the Lunins’ estateRussian: dom-usadba Luninyh or дом-усадьба Луниных (№ 12A), which now houses the State Museum of Oriental ArtRussian: Gosudarstvennyi muzey Vostoka or Государственный музей Востока. The building was made to the design of architect A. Grigoriev (or, potentially, D. Gilardi). It is a wonderful sample of the Moscow Empire style, i.e. late classicism. The estate comprises the main building and an annex, resulting in an incredibly charming, though asymmetrical, arrangement of the buildings. Today, the museum boasts a rich collection of artwork from India, China, Japan, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Nikitsky boulevard leads up to Nikitsky Gate SquareRussian: ploshchad Nikitskikh vorot or Площадь Никитских ворот (whose name also commemorates the White City gate). There is an eponymous theatre on this boulevard (By Nikitsky Gate). Its repertoire includes musicals, dramas, and poetry performances. The Greater Church of AscensionRussian: tserkov Bolshoye Vozneseniye or церковь Большое Вознесение (The Greater Church of Christ’s Ascension in Storozhy by the Nikitsky GateRussian: Khram Vozneseniya Gospodnya v Storozhakh u Nikitskikh vorot or Храм Вознесения Господня в Сторожах у Никитских ворот) is located here too. It is a wonderful architectural monument in the Empire style which was completed only after the war of 1812the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812 (with the participation of O. Bovean Italian-Russian neoclassical architect who supervised reconstruction of Moscow after the Fire of 1812 and F. Shestakov among several other architects). The church is mostly famous for A. Pushkin and N. Goncharova’s wedding ceremony which took place here on 2 March, 1831. A summer house was built in front of the church to commemorate the event. In its centre, there is a sculpture depicting Pushkin and Natalia Goncharova (by M. Dronov).
After this comes Tverskoy boulevardRussian: Tverskoy bulvar or Тверской бульвар ending at the intersection with Tverskaya streetRussian: Tverskaya ulitsa or Тверская улица at Pushkin SquareRussian: Pushkinskaya ploshchad or Пушкинская площадь. The boulevard opens with a monument to K. TimiryazevRussian: pamyatnik K. Timiryazevu or памятник К. Тимирязеву, a famous Russian scientist and naturalist (by S. Merkulov, 1923). This monument’s history hasn’t been smooth; during the Great Patriotic War, a bomb exploded beside it, overturning it with its blast. The damage on the gown and leg is still visible.
On the right side, (№2) there is a very interesting building erected in the 1970s – the building of TASSRussian: ТАСС (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet UnionRussian: Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza or Телеграфное Агентство Советского Союза) (by V. Egerev). Today, it houses the Russian Information Agency “TASS”Russian: Informatsionnoe agentstvo Rossii «TASS» or Информационное агентство России «ТАСС», which is why there are screens with photos beside it. The old building of the TASS is here too, at №10. There is a memorial tablet on it with the names of its employees who were killed during the Great Patriotic War.
On the left side, the complex of buildings called RomanovkaRussian: Романовка draws your attention. Located at the intersection of Malaya BronnayaRussian: Малая Бронная street and Tverskoy boulevard (№7/2), it was named after the last owner of the house it belonged to before the 1917 October Revolution. It is a rather complex structure. The earlier building by architect M. Kazakov was rebuilt in the 1880s by V. Zagorsky, who also designed the nearby building of the Moscow ConservatoryRussian: Moskovskaya konservatoriya or Московская консерватория.
The price of renting an apartment here used to be low, and students of the Moscow Conservatory and the Moscow School of Sculpture, Painting, and ArchitectureRussian: Moskovskoe uchilische zhivopisi, vayaniya i zodchestva or Московское училище живописи, ваяния и зодчества lodged in it. Composers V. Kalinnikov and I. Taneev rented rooms there. S. Mamontova famous Russian merchant, entrepreneur and patron of the arts, K. Korovin, M. VrubelRussian renowned painters, and N. Rimsky-Korsakova Russian composer attended various events and rehearsals in this building.
Actress M. Yermolova, whose portrait by painter V. Serov is internationally renowned, used to live at №11. The cream of the talented people of Moscow would gather in the house, F. Shalyapina Russian opera singer, V. Nemirovich-Danchenkoa Russian and Soviet theatre director who founded the Moscow Art Theatre with Konstantin Stanislavski, and A. YuzhinRussian actor among them. Today, it houses a museum dedicated to Yermolova. Its visitors can see not only the original interiors but also exhibits reflecting the theatrical life of Moscow in the early 20th century.
A monument to Sergey YeseninRussian: pamyatnik Sergeyu Eseninu or памятник Сергею Есенину, a famous Russian poet, (unveiled in 1995) is situated in the centre of the boulevard. People who love his work gather by the monument annually on his birthday on 3 October: poems are recited and sentimental songs are sung in his honour.
Another remarkable house is P. Smirnov’s mansionRussian: osobnyak P. Smirnova or особняк П. Смирнова at № 18. This landmark of the epoch of the Moscow Art Nouveau style is the creation of architect F. Shekhtela Russian architect, the most influential and prolific master of Russian Art Nouveau and late Russian Revival. It embodies all the characteristic features of the style: an asymmetrical arrangement, smooth lines, and picturesquely elaborate facade decoration.
№ 23 is the Moscow Pushkin Drama TheatreRussian: Moskovskiy dramaticheskiy teatr imeni A.S. Pushkina or Московский драматический театр имени А.С. Пушкина – an urban estate which has been rebuilt. Its repertoire today comprises both classical and modern plays. The theatre is popular among playgoers in Moscow.
Neighbouring it at № 25 is the Gertsen’s houseRussian: dom Gertsena or дом Герцена. This classical style urban estate was rebuilt in the 1880s but still retains its original look, both austere and inviting as was typical of the Moscow Empire style. It was in this house that writer A. Gertsen was born in 1812. This event is signposted not only by a sculptural medallion on the facade, but also a monument (by M.O. Milberger, 1959) installed in the garden square nearby.
Before the intersection of the boulevard with Tverskaya street there is a small garden square with a fountain. A long time ago there used to be a monument to A. Pushkin by Opekushin there. Now, it stands on the opposite side of Tverskaya street in the centre of Pushkin SquareRussian: Pushkinskaya ploshchad or Пушкинская площадь. Erected in 1880, the monument used to face the marvellous Strastnoy ConventRussian: Strastnoy monastry or Страстной монастырь. However, in 1937, the convent was demolished. Strastnaya SquareRussian: Strastnaya ploshchad or Страстная площадь was renamed ‘PushkinskayaRussian: Пушкинская‘ and the monument to the poet was moved to the site of the convent to face Tverskoy boulevard.
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