- Highly popular among tourists, students, bikers, sports car lovers and newlyweds, Sparrow Hills is a great place to hang out and relax outdoors.
- The observation platform, 80 m above sea level, gives a breathtaking panoramic view of Moscow.
- Nearby landmarks are the Luzhniki Olympic Complex, the Shukhov Tower, the Novodevichy Convent, St. Andrew’s Monastery and others.
- Three of Stalin’s high-risesand theStalinist Main Building of the Moscow State University are among the most impressive-looking places of interest in the area.
- In summertime, you can enjoy boat tours, rides in a cable car, biking, strolling and roller-skating.
- In winter, you can go skiing, snowboarding or ski jumping here.
Sparrow HillsRussian: Vorobyovy gory or Воробьёвы горы is one of Moscow’s best-known park zones where students, bikers, newlyweds and tourists enjoy outdoor life. The famous observation platform, which gives a breathtaking view of the city, and the Moscow State UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyi universitet or Московский государственный университет, a fine sample of Stalinist Empire stylea term given to architecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933 and 1955 architecture, are both located here.
Several settlements occupied this territory in the Middle Ages, and one of them, VorobyovoRussian: Воробьёво, was located on the present-day premises of the Moscow State University. The surviving Trinity ChurchRussian: tserkov Zhivonachalnoy Troitsy or церковь Живоначальной Троицы is the only reminder of that ancient village. Grand Duchess Sophia, the spouse of Vasili Iruled between 1389-1395, and again in 1412-1425 of Russia, acquired these lands in 1453 and made them part of the tsar’s possessions. Prince Vasili IIIthe Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533, who was very fond of this place, would often come here. Legend has it that he even found refuge here from Devlet Giraya khan of the Crimean Khanate from 1551 to 1577, a khan of the Crimean khanatea Turkic vassal state of the Ottoman Empire from 1478 to 1774, the longest-lived of the Turkic khanates that succeeded the empire of the Golden Horde, who attacked Moscow in 1521. Later, in 1547, this place was where Ivan the Terribleruled from 1533 to 1584 found shelter from a fire that devastated Moscow.
The OBSERVATION PLATFORM
The observation platform, which is 80 m above sea level, gives a fine view of Moscow. It is where many city celebrations are held and bikers and sports car lovers get together to socialise. You can see some of Moscow’s landmarks, including the Luzhniki sports complexRussian: sportkompleks «Luzhniki» or спорткомплекс «Лужники», the Moscow City Business CentreRussian: biznes-tsentr «Moskva-Siti» or бизнес-центр «Москва-Сити», the Novodevichy ConventRussian: Novodevichiy monastyir or Новодевичий монастырь and St. Andrew’s MonasteryRussian: Andreevskiy monastyir or Андреевский монастырь, the Russian Academy of SciencesRussian: Rossiyskaya Akademiya nauk or Российская Академия наук building, the Shukhov radio towerRussian: Shuhovskaya telebashnya or Шуховская телебашня and three of Stalin’s high rises: the Ministry of Foreign AffairsRussian: Ministerstvo inostrannyih del or Министерство иностранных дел building, the Red GatesRussian: Krasnye vorota or Красные ворота Administrative Building and Hotel UkrainaRussian: gostinitsa «Ukraina» or гостиница «Украина», along with Kremlin’s domes and a monument to Peter IRussian: pamyatnik Petru I or памятник Петру I by Zurab Tseretelia Georgian-Russian painter, sculptor and architect known for large-scale and at times controversial monuments.
The TRINITY CHURCH
The Trinity Church is the only reminder of the village of Vorobyovo, which was once located here. It was made of wood, but, in the late 18thcentury, Catherine IIEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader and arguably its most renowned had a new Empire-style church built here, a project conceived and supervised by architect Karl Witberg. The church, located in the immediate vicinity of the observation platform, now functions as a regular church, providing services to the population. The bell-tower, the church itself and the connecting gallery are built on the same axis meaning the church has a nave structure. The church building is topped with a dome drum reminiscent of a rotunda, which is typical of Empire-style constructions. However, the church has a four cornered rather than a three-cornered configuration. Tuscan columns, pilasters and frescoes decorate the exteriors of the church.
ST. ANDREW’S MONASTERY
Located at the foot of Sparrow Hills, St. Andrew’s Monastery was founded in the 17thcentury by Fyodor Rtishcheva boyar and an intimate friend of Alexis I of Russia who was renowned for his piety and alms-deeds, a good friend of Alexis Ithe tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676 of Russia, to celebrate the liberation of Moscow from the Crimean khan Kazy Girey. This event took place on the day when the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Andrew Stratilates; therefore, the new church was named after him. Originally preceded by a wooden version, this church was rebuilt using stone in 1675. Of special interest are the tiles, crafted by Belorussian craftsmen, including the renowned Stepan Polubes. Another stone building, the Church of the ResurrectionRussian: tserkov Voskreseniya Hristova or церковь Воскресения Христова, was built on the site in subsequent years. One can now view, on the monastery’s premises, a bell tower, whose present appearance dates back to the mid-19th century. Utility facilities were built around these buildings throughout the 19th century.
THE VASILYEVSKOYE COUNTRY ESTATE
A number of well-known noble families owned lands where a Russian tsar residence and a monastic quarter were located. These families included the Saltykovs, the Dolgorukovs, the Yusupovs and Count Dmitriev-Mamonova Russian figure of public life and writer, organiser and chief of the Mamonov regiment during the Napoleonic wars who gave his name to the country house, Mamonov’s DachaRussian: Mamonova dacha or Мамонова дача. As for the country estate known as VasilyevskoyeRussian: Васильевское, it was named after its first owner, Vasily Dolgorukov. The owners led a hectic life here, and they thrived. Crowds of guests were frequently coming and going, gardens were planted with exotic flowers and trees were planted around the house. The main building of the estate, which still stands, was built in the Empire style by architect Osip Bovean Italian-Russian neoclassical architect who designed many buildings in Moscow after the fire in 1812. The key feature of the house is its large domed rotunda, which is highlighted on the façade with a mezzanine and a 6-column Ionic porch. Small belvedere towers crowning two outbuildings echo the rotunda’s design. The house, located on a hill, harmoniously blends with the landscape surrounding it, and both the owners and their guests could enjoy an exceptional panoramic view of Moscow. This building now houses the Institute of Chemical PhysicsRussian: Institut himicheskoy fiziki or Институт химической физики.
THE MAIN BUILDING OF THE MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY
Sparrow Hills was renamed ‘Lenin HillsRussian: Leninskie gory or Ленинские горы’ in the second half of the 20thcentury. It is here that one of the best-known Moscow buildings of Stalin’s era, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, was built by Boris Iofan, Lev Rudnev and Sergey Chernyshev between 1949 and 1953. It was subsequently completed after Stalin’s death. Vera Mukhinaa prominent Soviet sculptor, who was in charge of decorating the facades with sculptures, initially planned to install her famous monument Worker and Kolkhoz WomanRussian: Rabochiy i kolhoznitsa or Рабочий и колхозница in front of the building.
The Main Building of the Moscow State University is one of seven high rises in Moscow designed in the Stalinist style. The building is 240 metres high including its spire. Despite the troublesome soil on which it is built, the main building’s special foundation, columns and supporting elements designed by architect and constructor Nikolay Nikitin ensure that it withstands the test of time. The buildings housing the Faculties of Physics, Chemistry and Biology are designed as separate buildings which constitute a real university campus. The style of the high rises is commonly called ‘Art Deco’, ‘the grand style’, or otherwise, ‘Stalin’s Empire style’.
The building is grand in appearance with its high spire, bas-reliefs, a giant order, expensive materials and luxurious moldings. The interiors were supposed to be equipped with everything necessary to enable the building to function autonomously, including a post office, cafeterias, hair salons, shops, etc. The construction of the Moscow State University has long been the subject of legend: the University’s Main Building is said to have an underground passage, an air-raid shelter and an entrance to the express metro (around the B zone).
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THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
The building housing the Russian Academy of Sciences is also very impressive. It took 16 years – from 1974 to 1990 – to complete it. The building consists of two towers standing one next to another, surrounded by low annexes which creates a unified architectural ensemble. An exquisite golden composition decorated with a clock crowns the building, and the upper floors feature a concert hall and an upmarket restaurant offering panoramic views of the capital.
THE METRO SYSTEM
The first open-air Moscow metro station, Vorobyovy Gory, built in this neighbourhood in 1959, is located on the Luzhnetsky BridgeRussian: Luzhnetskiy most or Лужнецкий мост which crosses the Moskva RiverRussian: Moskva-reka or Москва-река. Many difficulties and numerous mistakes stood in the way of the metro station’s construction. After a large-scale reconstruction, it has become one of the Muscovites’ favourite stations with its laconic design, panoramic views of the city, light and space. This station boasts the longest hall of the Moscow Metro, and its glass entrance hall occasionally hosts temporary exhibitions.
THE LUZHNIKI SPORTS COMPLEX
Luzhniki is a major multi-functional sports complex, which hosts large-scale concerts and traditional festivities, along with games and tournaments. The bulk of the construction was carried out in the 1950s, and, later, the complex was partially reconstructed as part of preparations for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Many Russian and international sporting events were held here. Tennis courts and fields are available for rent, and visitors will find a lot of interesting information at the tour desk. The Luzhniki sports complex features a golf course, a swimming pool, sports clubs, a hotel, a restaurant and a medical centre and is surrounded with a big park boasting some remarkable sculptures from the 1960s-1990s as well as a small modern octagonal chapel devoted to St. Vladimir the Greatthe ruler from 980 to 1015 who converted Kievan Rus' to Christianity in 988.
LEISURE ACTIVITIES ON SPARROW HILLS
The tree-lined areas on Sparrow Hills are under the authority of Gorky ParkRussian: Park Gorkogo or Парк Горького. You can enjoy strolling, roller-skating or biking along the 7-kilometer picturesque embankment from the Moscow City Business Centre all the way to KropotkinskayaRussian: Кропоткинская Metro Station. Food service areas, washrooms, pathways, equipment rentals and emergency points are spaced at convenient intervals on the route. Numerous pleasure boat cruises are on offer, departing from wharves along the Moskva River, and Gorky Park holds various sporting events on a regular basis. Several sport venues are located at the level of the embankment, as well as above. In wintertime, a springboard and a ski centre are open, and competitions are held throughout the cold months.
The original landscape and nature have been well preserved in the Sparrow Hills area, and you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding here in winter, and leap from a springboard or have a ride in a cable car in the summer.
The Vorobyovy Gory natural reserve installs wooden paths to several springs and organizes
eco tours in spring, summer and autumn. Visitors can book a tour and feed animals here, and special food vending machines are there for you to use.
The Moscow City’s Children’s Palace of the ArtsRussian: Moskovskiy dvorets detskogo i yunosheskogo tvorchestva or Московский дворец детского и юношеского творчества (17, Kosygina Street) has a variety of study groups and clubs, and children can ride a slide, rent a bike or go tubing on the premises of the complex.
The Moskva River’s high banks in the Vorobyovy Gory area have one problematic feature; its unusually mobile soil hinders construction here. It is these difficult construction conditions which have “preserved” this site from the many large projects which might otherwise have been undertaken here.
The Church of the SaviourRussian: hram Hrista Spasitelya or храм Христа Спасителя, currently located in Volkhonka StreetRussian: ulitsa Volhonka or улица Волхонка, is the first on the list of these unrealized projects. The initial version designed by Karl Witberg was going to be erected on the current Vorobyov PalaceRussian: Vorobyovskiy dvorets or Воробьёвский дворец. The young architect’s negligence in keeping accounts and irresponsible financial management, along with unsteady soils, made construction impossible even during the laying of the foundations. The huge financial investments already sunk into the project were proven to be futile.
Another major unrealized project dates back to the Soviet times. Stalin had initially planned to have eight high-rises constructed in Moscow, each one intended to reflect the world’s tallest building, the grand Palace of the SovietsRussian: Dvorets Sovetov or Дворец Советов. Fortunately, one of the “standard” high-rises, the Moscow State University, was eventually constructed here.
The Vorobyovy Gory area continues to draw the City’s attention. It was decided, in 2015, to decorate the observation platform with a monument to Prince Vladimir I the Great who Christianized Kievan Rus. This project could not go ahead due to the fact that the monument would violate the law of preserving cultural heritage and the intactness of the Vorobyovy Gory natural reserve. Therefore, the monument was finally erected on Borovitsky SquareRussian: Borovitskaya ploschad or Боровицкая площадь in front of the Kremlin.© 2016-2021 moscovery.com