Moscow Boulevards: from Sretensky to Yauzsky

Starting at Rozhdestvensky Bulvar (Rozhdestvensky Boulevard) and looking towards the river, there are four more boulevards: the short Sretensky Bulvar (Sretensky Boulevard) surrounded by residential buildings and offices, the urbane Chistoprudny Bulvar (Chistoprudny Boulevard) with its dressed-up visitors of the Sovremennik Theatre, the quiet Pokrovsky Bulvar (Pokrovsky Boulevard) full of young parents with strollers, and the least-crowded Yauzsky Bulvar (Yauzsky Boulevard). Just like all the other parts of the Bulvarnoye Koltso (Boulevard Ring), these boulevards are located on site of the former walls of the Bely Gorod (White Town) – the whitewashed defensive wall that encircled the central part of Moscow at the end of the 16th century. It was built by architect Fyodor Kon, who was also the builder of the defensive wall around Smolensk. Moscow wall was demolished at the end of the 18th century, and the ring of boulevards appeared in its stead.

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The Sretensky Bulvar (Sretensky Boulevard) is just 214 metres (702 feet) long. It begins at the Sretensky Gates Ploschad (Sretensky Gates Square), which gave the boulevard its name, and ends at the Turgenevskaya Ploschad (Turgenevskaya Square). The Sretensky Gates Square was famously the place where, in the 14th century, the Muscovites met the miracle-working Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, brought to the capital from Vladimir in order to protect the country from Tamerlan's invasion. After the unveiling of the icon, the conqueror had abruptly turned away from Moscow, and the location was given a name to commemorate the miraculous meeting. "Meeting" in Church Slavonic is sretenye, hence the Sretensky Gates name. In the 17th century, this was where the tradesmen and craftsmen lived. Later, the district became more fashionable, and the neighbouring Myasnitskaya Ulitsa (Myasnitskaya Street) became a home to rich merchants. The boulevard was planted in 1830, and became a meeting place for the students of Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, located nearby. Vladimir Makovsky's painting "At the boulevard," painted in 1887, gives an idea of other types of people who frequented this place. The main protagonists of the painting are the young factory hand, a former peasant who came to Moscow to earn money, and his wife.

In the 20th century, the boulevard was reconstructed twice, with planting of new trees and replacement of benches. The monument to Nadezhda Krupskaya, the wife of the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, appeared at the end of 1970s. In 2008, a monument to the great inventor Vladimir Shukhov was installed at the other end of the walkway.
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This tenement building made up of two monumental parts was designed by architect Nikolai Proskurin and constructed in 1902. The eclectic complex with some Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau elements was completely autonomous: it had its own power station, ventilation system with air humidifying, confined well, sewage, and heating. One of Moscow's first elevators was installed in the building, and there was a basement laundry connected with the residential quarters by special cargo elevator. One hundred and fifty apartments that were mostly inhabited by prominent scientists, lawyers, and doctors, were divided into working and living zones, and all of the flats had expensive parquet floors, fireplaces and stucco molding.

In Soviet times, the buildings housed the Main Artillery Administration of the Red Army, the Literature Department of the People's Commissariat of Education, and the editorial offices of the Gudok newspaper. In the 1920s, one of the paper's employees was the famous Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. The prominent French architect Le Corbusier, who suggested that the Soviet authorities demolish half of Moscow in order to raise hundreds of Constructivist buildings, considered this house one of the capital's most beautiful structures. The huge wrought iron gates are an important detail of the Rossiya building, and people sometimes call it the "house with gates."
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This is one of Moscow's best-known boulevards – thanks to its area and width, it resembles a park, and there is even a Chisty (Clean) pond. The pond was given its name in the 18th century, when Peter the Great's companion, Count Alexander Menshikov, ordered that the local water reservoirs (there were more than one at that time) be cleared of the waste, thrown into the water by the meat vendors from Myasnitskaya Ulitsa (Myasnitskaya Street). The boulevard was built up in the 19th century, and became the focal point of social life. A century ago, people came here to the Coloseum movie theatre, which now houses the Sovremennik theatre, and to see the Borodino Panorama, which was later moved to Kutuzovsky Prospekt (Kutuzovsky Avenue). Another important attraction is the monument to the playwright and composer Alexander Griboyedov, who loved this place and used to live nearby.
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This tenement house was built in the beginning of the 19th century. Its ground floor housed the store of merchant Peter Gusyatnikov, who owned the mansion and gave his name to the nearby lane. This is a rare Moscow building that did not fall victim to the huge September fire of 1812. Gusyatnikov was an active socialite, and frequently organized dinners and dances at the house.
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The House of the Medical and Philanthropic Society was built in 1912 by architect Ivan German. Inside the house was a large hall for public meetings and housing for elderly medics. The building was reconstructed in 1940. Among the building's residents were the literary critic Dmitry Blagoy and historian Nikolai Gratsiansky.
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It is believed that the manor was designed by the great Russian architect Matvey Kazakov. The Neoclassical manor was built for the governor of Perm and Tobolsk Yevgeny Kashkin. In the late 19th century, the manor's annex was rebuilt in accordance with the designs of August Weber, and later became a free-standing house. In the 1950s, the building was built higher and tiled, loosing its original look. In Soviet times, it housed the editorial offices of Working Moscow and Evening Moscow newspapers, the Moscow Worker publishing house, and the editorial office of the Kuranty almonach.
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This is one of the boulevard's most monumental buildings designed in 1936 by architect Alexey Volkhonsky for the employees of Voyenstroy (Military Buildings) who were building up bunkers and air-raid shelters throughout the city. When the Great Patriotic War began in 1941, the building's rooftop was equipped with air defence guns.
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This imposing Constructivist building was designed at the end of 1920s by the young architecture student Alexander Golubev for the employees of the Union Leather Syndicate, which was organized in 1922. It was built in place of the Borodino Panorama, which was later moved to Kutuzovsky Prospekt (Kutuzovsky Avenue). The first three floors of the building were given over to all kinds of offices and organizations, while the last three housed the employees' apartments. After the war, in 1948, another floor was added to the building. In mid-20th century, the building was home to the People's Commissariat of Consumer Goods Industry, the Ministry of Procurements, and the Ministry of Bread Products. In 1989, the building was given over to Rolan Bykov's All-Union Cinema and Television Center for Children and Youth, and later Rolan movie theatre was opened on the ground floor. It is one of Moscow's few movie theatres to run movies in their original version with subtitles.
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The tenement house of the Church of Trinity on Gryazekh is popularly known as the "House with Animals." One of Moscow's most remarkable Art Nouveau buildings was built in 1909 with design by Lev Kravetsky. Its third and fourth floors are adorned with bas-reliefs of magical animals and plants based on sketches by Sergey Vashkov, a student of the famous painter Viktor Vasnetsov. Vashkov had said that he drew inspiration for his bestiary from the animals on the facade of the famous Cathedral of Saint Demetrius in Vladimir. Vashkov loved the building so much, that he settled there. The building's basement is home to a small oceanarium, where visitors can watch shark feeding. The house was depicted in the Soviet movie The Foundling.
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The former Colosseum movie theatre was designed by architect Roman Klein and appeared on the boulevard in 1914. From the very first days of sketching, the architect knew what the name of the movie theatre would be, which is why he added antique architecture elements to his design. Both before the revolution of 1917, and after the Great Patriotic War, the movie theatre ran all of the most important Russian and foreign films. In the 1920s, the movie theatre's stage was also used for theatrical performances, and the Proletariat Culture theatre was based here between 1924 and 1932.

In 1928, Soviet writer Maxim Gorky attended a ceremony held at the theater to become a member of the Young Pioneers organization. After the war broke out in 1941, it was converted into an army recruitment center, and, at the end of October of 1941, this was where the 18-year-old Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya came to volunteer for the front, and was accepted into the reconnaissance and sabotage group. A month later, she was killed by the Nazis in the village of Petrishchevo, in Moscow Oblast. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was the first woman to become the Hero of the Soviet Union (posthumously) during the Great Patriotic War.

The movie theatre closed its doors in 1970. After the reconstruction, in 1974, the building was given over to the Sovremennik (Contemporary) Theater, located here to this day.
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Pokrovsky Gate was the gate in the Bely Gorod walls. Nothing is left of those walls, but their outline can be traced on the modern-day map of the capital. At the end of the 18th century, Empress Catherine the Great ordered that the walls be demolished, and boulevards and squares are built in their place. Pokrovsky Gate was replaced with the square of the same name, and it is one of the most inviting of Moscow's squares. In 1982, it was celebrated by playwright Leonid Zorin and film director Mikhail Kazakov in their iconic comedy Pokrovsky Gate.
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These two-storey hotels were built in the beginning of the 19th century and designed by architect Vasily Stasov. They were popularly known as "Stasov's houses." There were 11 such hotels spread out around the Boulevard Ring, and almost all of them had been demolished, but the original pair at the Ploschad Pokrovskiye Vorota (Pokrovsky Gate Square) had been preserved. In the 19th century, the first floors were occupied by stores, while the visitors lived on the second floor. The courtyards had stables for horses. The facade of one of the two buildings is beset with a sign that says "We are strengthening defense of the USSR." It was installed here in 1937 by the Central Council of the OSOAVIAKhIM (Union of Societies of Assistance to Defence and Aviation-Chemical Construction of the USSR).
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This is one of Moscow's most romantic boulevards, full of trees and hidden benches. Just like all the other boulevards, Pokrovsky was built in place of the Bely Gorod walls. It was planted with trees in the 1820s. A horse tram ran along the boulevard, and was later replaced with a regular tram.
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The barracks were built in 1801 on orders from Emperor Paul I. The Emperor's idea was that the city residents would donate the money for barracks construction and in exchange they would be freed from the obligation to house the military at their homes. Construction demanded over two million rubles, and Muscovites had collected around 500,000. Those who invested in construction were given a spiffy sign that read "Free of quartering" and had to be hung near the entrance. This was the first building in Moscow that was designed as barracks, and not adapted from something else. Back in the days, there was a large drill ground in front of the monumental building, and mock drills and exhibition performances were held there regularly. In the 1950s, the drill ground was planted with trees and became a part of Pokrovsky Bulvar (Pokrovsky Boulevard).
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In the second half of the 19th century, a large part of the boulevard was bought by merchant brothers Vasily and Pavel Medyntsev who sold expensive fabrics. The brothers used the land to build tenement houses. House No. 8, designed by Dmitry Pevnitsky, was built in 1881. In addition to the apartments, there was a plan to use the building for educational purposes. In 1894, architect Flegont Voskresensky added some parts to the building and removed a number of facade decorations. From the date of construction, the building housed a girls' high school and Olga Vinogradskaya, a prominent Moscow resident who dedicated a lot of efforts to the establishment of female education in the country. By 1902, the high school that she headed became one of the city's best. The teachers lived in the same building. In mid-20th century, the building was given over to several Soviet ministries and editorial offices.
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This small and cozy garden used to be a secluded garden-square owned by the Land Surveying Office. This organization was responsible for issuing records on land and real estate. In 1917, the garden was made public, and in the beginning of the 1930s it was named in honour of the Soviet statesman Vladimir Milyutin. Dances were organized, movies were shown, and theatrical performances were given. In 1936, the garden was given over to the children. A number of children's clubs had opened on the premises, and playgrounds were erected. This is how it remains to this day.
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This mansion, which belonged to the family of nobleman Alexey Durasov, is one of Moscow's best Neoclassical buildings of the late 18th century. When this beautiful house with several annexes and a delicate railing was built, it impressed the Muscovites so much that the neighbouring lane was renamed Durasovsky. Moscow historian Peter Sytin wrote: "Among the courtyards adjacent to the Bely Gorod, the richest and the best developed was the courtyard of Major's wife A. I. Durasova." It has been said that the house was designed by the prominent architect Matvey Kazakov, but no official confirmation has been found. Count Matvey Dmitriev-Mamonov occupied the house after Durasov family, but not for long, as his political views earned him the diagnosis of a mentally affected, and landed him under house arrest in his country estate. Later, the building was given over to the Practical Academy of Commercial Sciences. After the revolution of 1917, the Academy was closed, and in 1932, the building was given over to the Kuybyshev Military Engineering Academy, which required demolition of one of the annexes. Today, the building is home to several departments of the Higher School of Economics, one of Russia's most prestigious universities.
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This Empire-style building was bought in the second half of the 19th century by the heir of the famous entrepreneurial dynasty Maria Morozova for her daughter Yulia, who was marrying merchant Grigory Krestovnikov. Yulia worked for charitable causes and had six children. She lived across from the tenement house that was built on her orders, and actively struggled with the poorhouse located in the neighbouring lane. After the revolution of 1917, the owner was evicted from her house and forced to move to Tsaritsyno. The Prosecutor's Office occupied this building until recently, and now it is home to the State Statistics Administration.
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This is the tenement house that was built in 1913 by architect Ivan German for the prominent philanthropist and granddaughter of millionaire Savva Morozov Yulia Krestovnikova. Part of the house stands in place of the infamous poorhouse that was depicted on Vladimir Makovsky's painting "Homeless shelter." This shelter was once visited by Leo Tolstoy, who later wrote a scathing article on destitution.

The ornate facade of Krestovnikova's house looks out on the lane, while a more modest wall is facing the boulevard. The facade echoes the neighbouring Durasov's House that was built a century earlier. There is a theory that artist Alexey Savrasov had spent his last days in the poorhouse that was there before Krestovnikova's building.
The house was built in the first half of the 19th century on the foundation of Count Fyodor Tolstoy's mansion, which had burned down. Fyodor Tolstoy was the great uncle of Leo Tolstoy. The manor of Karzinkin family is a rarity for Moscow in that it remains a home to the descendants of the merchant dynasty, and they have been living here for two hundred years. Merchant Andrey Karzinkin, who became the owner of Tolstoy's city manor after it burned down in the fires of 1812, was a prominent and wealthy man. He was the owner of the Big Moscow Hotel located near Okhotny Ryad, which later became the construction site for the Moscow Hotel. He also owned a block of tenement houses that were torn down in the 1970s. In the second half of the 19th century, Karzinkin family held a literary and musical salon that was frequented by playwright Alexander Ostrovsky, stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky, and opera singer Feodor Chaliapin. In the beginning of the 20th century, the owner's daughter Elena Karzinkina married writer Dmitry Teleshov, and the house became a meeting place for the prominent Russian men of letters. Maxim Gorky, for example, read his The Lower Depths play here.
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This is the emptiest Moscow boulevard by far, but no less beautiful than others, and planted with linden trees. One of its sides goes above the roadway, while the other one is below, which is why, unlike other boulevards, it has no random passers-by, only those who actually come out for a stroll through this quiet neighbourhood. Mothers with strollers and petank players are a regular occurrence.
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This is one of the better known buildings in the eastern part of the Boulevard Ring. This building has been depicted in many films, such as the Pokrovsky Gates and The Cold Summer of 1953. The first building was designed by Ilya Golosov and was built in 1937 in place of the former garden square. The second building came up in 1941, right before the war, which is why the building's exterior decoration was never completed. The allegorical sculptures by Alexey Zelensky, which made the building so famous, personify agriculture (woman with a rifle and a sickle) and industry (man with a book and a hammer drill). The building was designed for the employees of the Kuybyshev Military Engineering Academy, and today it is still a residential house.
This two-storey 19th century manor had belonged to different people at different times, and the name of its architect is unknown. In the beginning of the 20th century, the building was reconstructed on request from its current owner, physician O. G. von Schiemann, who opened a clinic there. The building is currently under reconstruction.
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This Art Nouveau tenement building was built by architect Nikolay Yevlanov for the wealthy Boldyrev family in 1908. This architect's name is not widely known, but he had actually built a lot of tenement houses in Moscow. Boldyrev's house traces the curving line of the Yauzsky Bulvar (Yauzsky Boulevard) and is notable for the tiled panels with floral ornaments that can be seen from the height of the boulevard itself. In Soviet times, the house was nationalized and partitioned into apartments. Today, the building houses the FSB Central Border Guard Museum.
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This manor, which was built in the 17th century, belonged to the ancestors of Natalia Goncharova, wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin. At the end of the 18th century, Natalia's grandfather Afanasy Goncharov altered the manor, building a Neoclassical stately house with the facade facing the boulevard. The second floor and the attic were made out of wood. In the beginning of the 19th century, architect Matvey Kazakov included this building in his famous compilation Architectural Albums.

But the family of Goncharov did not get a good chance to live in the newly reconstructed house. Afanasy was a hardcore card player, and numerous card debts had forced him to sell the manor. After that, it went through a number of owners in quick succession, and was finally bought by the prominent tea merchant Filippov in 1818. Filippov had opened a store and a factory here, which operated until 1917. In the beginning of the 20th century, a mansion with turrets, made to look like a knight's castle, was built on the manor grounds. After the revolution of 1917, the houses were converted into communal flats that were only settled apart in the 1990s. In 2007, the manor was restored to look like it did in the beginning of the 19th century.
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This building, best viewed from the Milyutinsky Pereulok (Milyutinsky Lane), is a delightful example of Moscow antiquity. At the end of the 1830s, Court Counsellor Ivan Loris-Melikov invited the prominent architect Mihail Bykovsky to reconstruct the 18th-century stone merchant chambers on the corner of Sretenvsky Bulvar (Sretenvsky Boulevard) and Milyutinsky Pereulok. Today the house is somewhat hidden behind a residential six-storey building, the legacy of the 1920s Constructivism, and architectural epochs on the boulevard seem to exist in layers.

Bykovsky had built a house in the style of Russian Neoclassicism, uncluttered in its decoration. The ground floor with its low square windows, finished with rock-face stones, creates a sense of solidity, while the high windows of the second, dressed-up, floor with their framed architraves create a sense of elegance. But the real beauty could be found inside: there were the caryatides above the entrance staircase, big halls decorated in different styles, lots of stucco work and columns made of artificial marble…

The capital reconstruction of 1928 destroyed the greater part of the trimmings. In late 1980s, the house was given to the managing board of the All-Russian Cultural Foundation, and was carefully restored, but after that the building fell into the state of neglect. Another attempt at restoration was made by its temporary tenants, the team of the FreeLabs creative estate. Despite its difficult history, a lot of things had been preserved in the house, and not just the interiors. The carved wooden frames of the second-floor windows, facing the Sretensky Bulvar, had survived through the centuries.