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If you happen to be in one of Moscow hotels on Tverskaya on a summer day with no better purpose than to hang around, exercise your walking skills by doing the following.
Walk downtown to the Red Square. Admire its spaciousness, while you are crossing the square towards St. Basil Cathedral. St-Basil’s is a world-known landmark of Moscow. This is why you can linger here to take some pictures. Do not stay too long, however, since you have a long way to go. Some other day you can take a special Kremlin tour which includes St.Basil’s, but today you have something else to do.
Now that you have enough pictures with St.Basils to show to your friends and relatives and, perhaps, even with Minin and Pozharskii monument, go ahead towards Vasilievskii spusk (descent), but do not approach the river, instead, turn left before the bridge starts, cross the road and enter Varvarka street. It runs along the former Rossija hotel, which by the time you come will perhaps turn into a huge construction site.
If you still catch a glimpse of the hotel, say goodbye to this symbol of the Soviet era, but do not hurry to pass by, take a closer look at house N4a. Take a few steps down to your right to see it better. This house has been here since XVI century and is the Old English Merchant Chamber – a kind of medieval English Trade Mission to Moscow.
Now the Chamber belongs to the Russian History Museum and hosts a small exhibition telling the story of Zaryadie (this particular area of Moscow) and a the scale model of how this place will look after the reconstruction. http://www.mosmuseum.ru/eng/court.
Now come back to the street and go ahead, admiring a couple of medieval churches and houses to your right and XIX century buildings now occupied by offices and shops to your left.
In about 10 minutes you will come to Varvarka gates square, on the right side of the road as you walk you will see the entrance to the metro. Take a note, you will need it in a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, take a couple of steps ahead and turn right to admire the remains of an ancient Kitai-gorod wall coming towards the river and the gates through which you until recently could have accessed the yard of Rossija hotel. The wall was built in XVI century to protect the settlement of craftsmen and tradesmen, who became to numerous to have enough space inside the Kremlin walls.
It’s time to go back and enter the metro. You will have to go to the next station Tretyakovskaya (RUR15/USD0.6 per person). Attention: Kitai-gorod is a tricky station since it services two different lines. When you pass the turnstile, ask the service lady about direction. Tell her just one word “Tretyakovsksaya” and she will wave you the way.
At Tretyakovskaya exit the metro and turn right. One minute’s walk and you are on Pyatnitskaya street in Zamoskvorechye area. This is one of the oldest streets in Moscow, which was here already in XIV century as a beginning of the road, by which Russians sent tribute to the Golden Horde.
People who collected the tribute settled here and were called Ordyntsy (from the Horde), hence the names of the streets Big and Small Ordynka (you will see one of them later). People who helped Ordynsty to communicate also settled here and were called Tolmachi (translators), hence the names of Big, Small and Old Tolmachevskii streets (one of them you will also visit).
On Pyatnitskaya turn left and walk for about 5 minutes looking around. This is a part of Moscow which is pleasant to walk and which gives you a flavour of old city. Note the fur shop on the other side of the street (house 19). The house and the shop were built by Fedor Shekhtel, a famous Russian art-nouveau architect, at the beginning of the XX century. The irony is that in a constantly changing Moscow, in which churches become warehouses and then again churches, factories become clubs, clubs become museums, museums become hotels, etc., this shop has survived wars and revolutions and is still there, in its original place.
In 5 min turn left into a small Chernigovskii lane right before the bell tower.
Walk through this tiny zigzagged street admiring ancient churches of XVI-XVII centuries,
and as you are about to exit to Ordynka street, have a closer look at the house 9/13, or rather a complex of houses. This is an old Moscow estate, dating back to the beginning of XVII century. Although the main building is, of course, of later period. The area was reconstructed on a large scale after the fire of 1812.
The then Moscow was a collection of monasteries, estates and separate buildings, and all its streets were curving, turning and often coming to dead ends. Because of this lack of line planning Moscow was known as “the big village” – the nickname which still survives and is particularly cherished in St.-Petersburg.
Once you are on Ordynka turn left and walk for about 5 min up to the street light, where you cross the street to the right and enter Big Tolmachevskii lane. You come here to see building N3 – Moscow estate of XVII century, which once belonged to the family of the Demidovs, the then Russian oligarchs who owned steel mills in the Urals. Note the cast-iron gates – they arrived here directly from the Urals’ plants. Later the house belonged to Countess Sollogub, who kept here fashionable literary salon. Currently, the house accommodates a library.
And now turn around, cross the street and walk into pedestrian Lavrushinskii lane, hiding another Moscow gem – the Tretyakov art gallery. http://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/english/
Here you will be met by souvenir sellers, but since you came here not for them, but for ART, make a visit to the famous Russian art collection. It is worth it.
Once you come back to the daylight, turn left and walk towards the Kadashevskaya embankment. Cross the channel by the pedestrian Luzhkov bridge and find yourself on Bolotnaya (marsh) square .
Walk through it keeping to the left and at the end of the square after the fountain you will see a trolley-bus stop. You need trolley-buses NN 1 or 33, which will take you across the Big stone bridge back to the Kremlin. (RUR 15 per person)
While you are crossing, admire the scenery, the views from this bridge are ones of the best in Moscow.
You could cross it on foot, but it is too big and if you already walked a lot, you may be tired, especially, if you made a visit to the gallery.
Both trolley-buses will take you all the way to Manezhnaya square (where Tverskaya starts), and N1 can even take you up by Tverskaya.
Since it's a day's program, you may go hungry at one point. In Zamoskvorechye on your way you can stop at Pizza hut (Pyatnitskaya, 29) or Molli Gwynn's (Pyatnitskaya 24) or at any coffee shop, that you see on your way (and you will see a lot), or make a short detour on Ordynka to Los Banditos (Ordynka, 7), or have a break in the café in Tretyakov Gallery itself.