Gorky ParkRussian: Park Gorkogo or Парк Горького is located in central Moscow and is the city’s most popular park, offering a wide variety of leisure activities ranging from relaxed strolls to modern art exhibitions and beach volleyball. The 45-hectare park, created in 1928, stretches along the picturesque embankment of the Moskva RiverRussian: Moskva-reka or Москва-река. Today, Gorky Park combines several separate territories, each of them with its own special charm. These include the ParterreRussian: Партер, the Park’s main area and the subject of this article, Neskuchny GardenRussian: Neskuchnyi sad or Нескучный сад, Vorobyovy GoryRussian: Vorobyovy gory or Воробьевы горы and the MUZEON Park of ArtsRussian: Park iskusstv MUZEON or Парк искусств МУЗЕОН.
Entrance is free of charge, and Wi-Fi is available throughout the park. Numerous classes, lectures and sports events take place here, there is an open-air cinema and festive events and concerts are also held in this park in summertime. The park quietens in autumn, but as soon as winter comes, one of Europe’s largest ice rinks opens in the park.
It is hard to believe that this area served as a dumping ground for waste in the late 19th century. This wasteland was tidied up after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the First All-Russian Agricultural and Handicraft Industries ExhibitionRussian: 1-ya Vserossiyskaya selskohozyaystvennaya i kustarno-promyishlennaya vyistavka or 1-я Всероссийская сельскохозяйственная и кустарно-промышленная выставка opened here a few years later. When Stalin came to power, this territory was transformed into a real park as part of the reconstruction of Moscow.
Main entrance and observation platform
The park is only a 5-minute walk away from Oktyabrskaya-KoltsevayaRussian: Октябрьская-кольцевая Metro Station and a 10-minute walk away from Park KulturyRussian: Парк Культуры Metro Station. The main entrance, overlooking Krymsky Val StreetRussian: ulitsa Kryimskiy val or улица Крымский вал, makes it a perfect place to start your discovery of Gorky Park. This monumental arch with columns and its wrought iron gate was built by architect Yuri Shchuko in 1955 in Stalin’s Empire style. It was Aleksandr Vlasov, Moscow’s chief architect of the time, the famous avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov and academic Ivan Zholtovsky who came up with the design for the garden, as early as in 1928.
The Gorky Park MuseumRussian: Muzey Parka Gorkogo or Музей Парка Горького is open to visitors through the columns of the Main Entrance, topped with a roof that has been transformed into an 18-metre-high Observation PlatformRussian: Smotrovaya ploschadka or Смотровая площадка. Using binoculars, you can make out all the details of the dome of the Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Hram Hrista Spasitelya or Храм Христа Спасителя , the monument to Peter I the Greatruled from 1682 until 1725, the Central House of ArtistsRussian: Tsentralnyi dom hudozhnika or Центральный дом художника and the nearby MUZEON Park of SculpturesRussian: park skulptur MUZEON or парк скульптур МУЗЕОН. On the opposite side, enjoy the view of Vorobyovy Gory and the awe-inspiring Stalinist Main building of the Moscow State UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyi universitet or Московский государственный университет and the Moscow CityRussian: Moskva-Siti or Москва-Сити skyscrapers. The Observation Platform is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., except Mondays. A lift is provided for ease of access.
The Gorky Park Museum is not particularly big, but visitors can learn a lot about the history of the park, see old photographs and a small copy of the parachute tower famous across in the USSR in the 1930s. You can experience a virtual jump from this tower using Augmented Reality SmartGlasses. Back in those times, it was believed that the new Soviet citizen had to be both perfect inside as well as physically strong, and therefore the park attracted mostly people looking for active recreation. Bathhouses were in operation, competitions and sport classes took place here and skydiving was also available. The museum charges an entrance fee, and there is also a souvenir shop at the pylon of the Main Entrance.
Upon entering the park, the famous figured fountain is the first thing the eye is drawn to. At night, it turns into a sound and light show. However, it is worth spending some time at the entrance before getting to the fountain.
Leisure activities in park premises
Starting in 2011, Gorky Park has been going through consistent redevelopment, setting high standards for other leisure parks in the capital. Numerous benches have been set up throughout the park, and visitors enjoy resting on the cozy poufs and deckchairs scattered on the lawns among beautiful flowerbeds. On the one hand, this is an oasis where peace and quiet reign supreme, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. On the other hand, this place offers city dwellers a variety of sport and cultural activities. This dual purpose of Gorky part was modelled on Europe’s famous parks, such as Hyde Park in London and the Luxembourg Garden in Paris.
In summer and early autumn, you can relax on the grass, deckchairs, sunbathe on the wooden Olivkovy beachRussian: Olivkovyi plyazh or Оливковый пляж, attend a lecture or a master class, rent roller skates, bikes or boats. Sporting facilities include several tennis courts and ping-pong tables (pay per hour). Neskuchny Garden has half-houses for chess and checkers lovers, and you can also rent equipment and facilities to play beach volleyball, football, handball and badminton. Excursions organized by the “Walks with HistoryRussian: Progulki s istoriey or Прогулки с историей” project are on offer in autumn, and the entertainment in winter remains the large ice rink.
A wide range of free classes are offered from mid-May to late September on a regular basis, including jogging and fitness, roller skating for children aged 4 and above and dancing (twist, Charleston, rock and roll, tango, etc.). Bring your own outfits, enroll in your favourite class and join the fun! You can check the timetable for these activities on the official website.
Ongoing cultural events
To begin with, pay a visit to the Garazh Contemporary Art MuseumRussian: Muzey sovremennogo iskusstva «Garazh» or Музей современного искусства «Гараж» located right on the park premises. This exhibition venue created and funded by Darya Zhukova and Roman Abramovich is one of the most up-to-date and interesting exhibition facilities in Moscow. It holds major exhibitions and numerous master classes and presentations for kids and adults alike. It also features a modern art library and a bookstore.
An entrance fee is required to gain access to the open-air Pioneer Russian: Пионерsummer cinema, located in Gorky Park. Screenings include both new releases and festival films. The cinema venue also hosts lectures on modern culture and arranges meetings with renowned actors and directors. Entry to these educational sessions is free of charge for all, as a rule.
Open all year round, the Lecture HallRussian: Lektoriy or Лекторий is purported to be one of the major intellectual summer venues in Moscow. Since 2015, literary and writers’ clubs have been hosting their group activities here and famous travelers hold meetings with the public here as well. Foreign language and photography classes are available, too. Most of these activities are available by appointment only.
The People’s ObservatoryRussian: Narodnaya observatoriya or Народная обсерватория is open to the public from May to late September. There is an entrance fee, however it is quite reasonable. Visitors going on one-hour themed excursions will learn a great deal about the formation of the Solar System and have the opportunity to look through a telescope at the visible planets, namely Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Jupiter. The Observatory was opened in Gorky Park in the 1950s, preceded by an astronomical venue which has been operational since the 1930s. Unfortunately, the Observatory was closed to the public for over 20 years, reopening its doors as late as 2012. Today, it features two powerful telescopes as well as a tunnel telescope. You can continue to get to know the universe in the Star Study GroupRussian: Zvyozdnyi kruzhok or Звёздный кружок, open in the Central Entrance to the Lecture Hall.
Visiting with kids
Gorky Park features several venues specifically designed for kids. The year-round Green SchoolRussian: Zelyonaya shkola or Зелёная школа offers ecology and gardening classes, along with master classes on art, where kids learn to create cardboard sculptures, paint pictures with natural paints and cook biscuits or pizza. The Green School is located in the long brown building next to Pionersky PondRussian: Pionerskiy prud or Пионерский пруд. In addition, little ones are always excited to feed the squirrels and birds on Golitsinsky PondsRussian: Golitsyinskie prudy or Голицынские пруды.
On the premises of Gorky Park
The historical Neskuchny Garden is the most quiet and shady area of the park. The Garden existed long before the “main” Gorky Park. In the 17th century, this area was popular with famous aristocratic families, including the Orlovs, the Golytsins, the Trubetskoys, who all had their country estates built here. Architect Dmitry Ukhtomskythe chief architect of Moscow during the reign of Empress Elizabeth managed, in the mid-18th century, to make the most of the landscape by arranging numerous grottos, bridges and pavilions here. Even today, the garden still lives up to its name, with its shaded alleys, fountains, pavilions, gazebos and parterres. It’s a great place for strolling.
After a walk around Neskuchny Garden, you can rent a bike at a rental place and ride back to the Main Entrance, where you can leave the bike and spend some more time wandering around. Here you can buy many knickknacks, such as fobs, badges, pencils, pens, notebooks, clothes, throw blankets with the park’s logo stamped on it and even perfume.
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