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A day in the park: Gorky Park


Take in views of Moscow, play pétanque and much more

If you have a free day, why not spend it in Gorky Park? Moscow residents have been doing just that since the 1930s. Back then, the best performing workers were sent to a one-day resort in Neskuchny Garden. They could go in for some sports, go fishing, attend a concert or go to the movies. Today, the park offers just as many interesting options for rest and recreation.

I can see everything from up high


Gorky Park remains one of those places where they know how to keep people entertained. Early risers can start the day with morning yoga in the Pioneer summer movie theatre or with a jog along the embankment. Those who prefer to sleep in can go for "plan B": conquering the Arch, which opens at 11 am. For starters, it's really beautiful: the observation deck on the roof offers a great view of Moscow — you can examine the Christ the Saviour temple and Shukhovskaya towers in great detail using the 25x binoculars. Secondly, it's super interesting: everything you could ever want to know about Gorky Park is found here in the museum, featuring photographs, touch panels and videos. On your way out, check out the souvenir shop to buy a Walking with History series guide, a stylish phone case with an image of Girl with an Oar or a sweatshirt emblazoned with the Letters GP.

Make sure to put on a Gorky Park playlist as your background music. The music playing at the "portal to the space of happiness, relaxation and good mood" fits the bill, stimulating the production of serotonin.

Sun, air and water

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Once you're through the main entrance arch, bear left towards the Pioneer pond with its boating station. A boat can be rented here for 600 roubles per hour plus collateral. Or you can just lie on the shore and sunbathe. People normally choose to sit next to some trees so they can alternate sunbathing with cooling down in the shade. The peace and quiet will only occasionally be disturbed by squirrels scurrying past and the quacks of shelducks.

You'll also have plenty of opportunities to go boating or swimming: at the end of the central section of the park there is Golitsynsky pond. Once arriving there, you certainly will have earned a ride along a catamaran, among the snow white swans.

Extend your arms and breathe in deep

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For now, let's keep going straight from Pioneer pond deeper into the park. On your right, you will pass the Figure fountain, you can cool off in it, but it's best to leave that until later; on the left, you will see the silvery boxy structure of the Garage museum.

Up ahead is the health and fitness area with a series of sports facilities. One is reserved for those showing off their head-spinning skateboard tricks; another, made of wood, is for cross-fit training, while a third one, the Nike Box, is reserved for football or basketball games, as well as rooftop yoga. You risk spending at least two hours here.

Life hack No 1: learn the schedule of different classes offered at the facilities in advance

Life hack 2: Nike offers free equipment for rent

If you turn to face the Pushkinskaya embankment and cross the park here, you'll find yourself in front of a volleyball court coated in pristine sand, the sort only found on the best beaches of the Maldives. You can come here with your friends and hold tournaments: there's plenty of room for everybody, up to five teams can play at the same time. Plus, equipment, locker rooms and showers are complementary.

And if you keep walking straight, you'll soon find yourself immersed in the culture of Provence. From 10 am until 10 pm, you will find people playing pétanque outside the Cochonnet cafe. The fee is 300 roubles per hour — oh la la! They say all the tracks are busy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Healthy French snacks and drinks to go will serve as a great complement for your time at the park.

And if you want to play table tennis, the tables are only a short distance off, immediately behind the main entrance arch. You do need to procure rackets in advance, though.

Wind through the hair

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Boating is not the only thing available to you in Gorky Park — you can also rent a bicycle (as well as a long board, an electrical scooter, a velomobile, etc.). There are several shops to rent from, for example, one at the Andreevsky bridge. And it's a good idea to get on some wheels considering how you're faced with one of the longest park embankments, stretching over 8 km. Head for the Sparrow Hills and then back. The Moskva river on the right exudes a magnetic beauty.

Perhaps it's time to grab a bite to eat

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If you weren't feeling hungry before, after a satisfying bicycle ride, you're bound to find yourself starving. The park offers all sorts of cuisine: French, Georgian and Italian. If you're into street food, there's shawarma and souvlaki. For those hedonists with a taste for fancy food and leisurely gatherings, the local cafes offer shady verandas. The Italian cafe Merkato is situated at the very heart of the park and offers the thinnest Italian pizzas, summer salads and ice-cold lemonades. If you are looking for a dish with meat, vegetables and herbs, head for the grill bar next to Pioneer pond. The list of great places to eat goes on and on.

Say cheese

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We're forgetting the most important thing. Remember the joke about how if you don't post an update about something, it never happened? Keep in mind the following places for taking photos around the park: 1. The fragrant rose garden where a fountain stands at the end of the park's central zone near Neskuchny garden; 2. The elegant Chinese bridge on Golitsynsky pond, which looks purpose-built for romantic photo sessions, and 3. The observation deck, the same one we conquered this morning.

Olympic scale

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Pace yourself so that you get back to the Figure fountain at 10:30 pm sharp: you're in for a refreshing performance. For 25 minutes, the water jets will sing, dance and reflect the light of different coloured spotlights. By the way, this fountain put on its first performance during the 1980 Olympics.

There are at least three more ways to spend your day here, depending on your preferences:

  • if you're into sculptures and picture postcard views: head for the Museon;
  • if you're into nature and fast-paced walks, head to Sparrow Hills;
  • and if you're into old architecture, Neskuchny garden is perfect for you.

But that's a whole different story.

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The Maxim Gorky central park of culture and recreation is a modern world class park visited by more than 40,000 people per day over the weekdays and over 250,000 on weekends and holidays. It's a space for recreation, education, health and fitness, dances and outdoor games. The park has a total area of about 300 hectares and is divided into five parts: the Museon park of arts, the central zone, Neskuchny garden, Sparrow Hills and section of Moscow State University's campus.

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