Polytechnic Museum

Pavel Smertin/TASS
It is better to begin the tour at the outskirts of Kitay-gorod. Despite the name (Kitay means China in Russian and some mistakenly call it Chinatown), China has nothing to do with it – the peculiar coincidence stems from the construction of the Kremlin. In the second half of the 15th century Italian architects took part in the building of the Moscow's fortress. One story suggests that Tsar Ivan III ousted all of the artisans from the Kremlin, and the Italians called their quarters citta ("city" in Italian), while the Russians heard it as Kitay (China). Another explanation of the toponym mentions the word kita that meant a bundle of canes and poles that were originally used for wall construction.

The Polytechnic Museum stands at one of Kitay-gorod's central squares. This huge building is known in Russia not only for its outstanding collection of exhibits demonstrating technological progress, but also for its remarkable lecture halls. In early 20th century the main lecture hall used to bring together the futurists with their fiery discussions, and in the 1960s it was sold out when the Soviet poets Bulat Okudzhava, Yevgeniy Yevtushenko and Bella Akhmadulina read their poems here. Today, the building of the Polytechnic Museum is under reconstruction, supervised by the Japanese architect Junya Ishigami.