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Old Arbat - the most famous street in Moscow

If Nevsky Prospect tells legends in Saint Petersburg, the main "storyteller" of Moscow is Arbat. This street is the same symbol of Moscow as the Kremlin, Red Square or St. Basil's Cathedral.  Arbat is included in the list of the most visited sites in Moscow. It does not leave indifferent neither tourists nor native Muscovites...

History of Arbat

Arbat is one of the oldest streets in Moscow  which arose in the 14-15th centuries and was first mentioned in 1493 in connection with the fire in the Church of St. Nicholas on Sands from which the fire spread to other wooden buildings and burned out almost all of Moscow.

The name of the street is rooted in antiquity. The street was residential even in those times, in the 15th century. Also, the western road to the Kremlin passed through it, therefore many battles took place in the Arbat region.

Due to its location  from the 16th century Arbat began to turn into a large rich settlement where craftsmen lived  serving the needs of the royal court. Artisans, archers, royal grooms and representatives of other professions settled here.

By the 18th century  the Arbat district was becoming one of the most prestigious in Moscow. Representatives of the most famous noble families settled here - Dolgorukys, Tolstoys, Sheremetyevs and others. Gradually, mansions with mezzanines and private gardens grew here.

Later, representatives of the Moscow intelligentsia settled here. Pushkin, Scriabin, Gogol, Rachmaninoff, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Blok and many others once lived here.

At the beginning of the 20th century the silhouette of the street changed significantly. First, on the site of the low mansions, high-rise buildings in the Art Nouveau style appeared and later - in the style of constructivism - the style of the new Soviet industrial era.

In 1980 Arbat was completely made a pedestrian zone. Reconstruction and restoration was carried out, additional landscaping was done. One day the facades of houses on the Arbat were painted in the same grey color. But now each building has its own unique character.

Interesting Facts

  • Today Arbat is one of the most expensive areas in Moscow - prices for the smallest apartments here start at 12.5 million rubles (about 200 000 US dollars)!
  • The most famous restaurant of Arbat - the fashionable "Prague" - at the end of the 19th century had the status of a cheap tavern;
  • In the 1930s and 1950s  Arbat was part of the route that Stalin drove daily to the Kremlin and the street was under constant surveillance by security agencies;
  • In fact  all of the existing buildings on the Arbat were erected at the beginning of the 20th century  when the expensive street was completely built up with tenement houses.

You should definitely see these places on Arbat

Cinema "Hudozhestvenniy"

The first cinema site of Moscow appeared in 1909 on Arbat Square. The building has become one of the few pre-revolutionary cinemas created specifically for showing films. This cinema hosted the premieres of the legendary Soviet films “Battleship Potemkin”, the first sound film “A ticket to life”, the first color film “Grunya Kornakova”. Having crossed the centenary, the cinema has become famous as one of the oldest operating cinemas in the world.

Arbat Gate Square

Arbat Street got its start from Arbat Gate. It was here, where the roads to Smolensk and Novgorod crossed, that the square was formed. The territory has repeatedly become a place of struggle with foreigners. So, in 1439, Russian troops repelled the raids of the Kazan Khan Ulu Mohammed, in 1611 a detachment of Polish-Lithuanian invaders was defeated here, and in 1612 the command headquarters of the Second People's Militia was at the Arbat Gate.

The area acquired its current appearance in the 30-40s of the 20th century.

Restaurant "Prague"

Restaurant "Prague" is located in the most recognizable building of the Arbat -  a corner house number 2. At the end of the 18th century there was a tenement house, on the ground floor of which there was an inexpensive inn. The transformation of the building into a luxurious mansion took place at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to the new owner - merchant Tatarykin.

Before the revolution the restaurant was a unique center of cultural life in Moscow. Artists, poets and writers gathered here, including Repin, Blok, Bunin, Yesenin and many others.

Theater named after Evgeny Vakhtangov

At Arbat, 26 is the Vakhtangov State Academic Theater  which can rightfully be called the cultural center of Old Arbat.

The history of the theater has more than 95 years, the theater itself has been named after its founder and first leader, actor and director Yevgeny Vakhtangov.

We recommend visiting the performances "Eugene Onegin", "Pristan", "Groza".

Wall of Viktor Tsoi

One of the most popular informal sights of the capital is the wall of Viktor Tsoi. This is the wall of house number 37. The Wall of Tsoi has become not just a monument to the leader of the group "Kino", but also a cult place for millions of fans of Viktor Tsoi and the entire Russian rock. People of all ages gather here, play the guitar, sing rock hits of the past years.

Monument to Bulat Okudzhava

An outstanding writer and poet Bulat Okudzhava lived and worked on Old Arbat. His first place of residence was an apartment in the house number 43 on Arbat.

Museum-apartment of Pushkin

One of the oldest buildings in Arbat is a house number 53. Once this city estate belonged to the noble family of Khitrovo. In the winter of 1831 Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin rented part of the building. It was here that on the eve of the marriage of the poet and Natalya Goncharova, a noisy "bachelor party" was held right after the wedding in the Great Ascension Church, a wedding dinner was held here, the first three months of the Pushkin’s family life also passed in this place. The apartment museum occupies the entire two-story mansion.

Smolenskaya-Sennaya square

Old Arbat ends at the Garden Ring, on Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square. The square got its name from the hay market located on it - the market where hay, straw and firewood were sold.Since the middle of the last century  the building of one of the “Stalinist” skyscrapers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has become an architectural dominant.

 

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