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Historical Rings of Moscow

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From the Center to Outskirts of Moscow

As we all know, the capital is built on seven hills, and, like an elegant lady, Moscow is adorned in rings. At first, they were ramparts, marking the boundaries of the settlement. Over time, these rings that surrounded the ever-growing city became roads. Here is some info on the rings that adorn Moscow.

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The Kremlin

Long before the Kremlin arose on Borovitsky Hill, there was a settlement of the Vyatichi tribe. To protect themselves from enemies, the Vyatichi surrounded their buildings with a palisade and a deep moat. So it remained down the centuries: the fortress towering above the river was guarded by a wall — at first wooden, and eventually stone. In the event of danger, the residents of the posad — the settlement around the Kremlin — could hide behind its walls. In the 14th century, Italian architects rebuilt Moscow's fortress and erected strong red-brick walls around it — the walls were so reliable that for centuries no one managed to breach them.

Kitay-Gorod

Moscow was constantly under construction, expanding, with the posad's streets reaching out from Borovitsky Hill like rays from the sun. In 1538, they came to be embraced by the Kitay-Gorod wall, extending from the Corner Arsenal Tower, past the present Teatralnaya metro station and Novaya and Staraya Ploshchad Squares, to reach another Kremlin tower — Beklemishevskaya tower. Although this wall was lower than the one that surrounded Borovitsky Hill, it was protected by cannons placed on a special platform built on top of it. With such reliable protection, the shopkeepers plying their trade in Kitay-Gorod could go about their business in peace, worry-free.

Bely Gorod and Zemlyanoy Gorod

At the end of the 16th century, another ring was built beyond Kitay-Gorod — the white stone walls were to protect Moscow from raids of Crimean Tatars. Towers standing in a U-shape stretched along the new city limits — Chertolskie, Tverskie, Dmitrovskie and Sretenskie gate towers. Even today it is possible to see where the border of Bely Gorod lay — the modern Boulevard ring road is an echo of its outline. Only now there are squares instead of towers: Pokrovskie Vorota, Prechistenskie Vorota, Nikitskie Vorota and Yauzskie Vorota squares. Behind Bely Gorod were the sloboda settlements, where artisans and craftsmen lived. They lived in simple wooden houses which, sadly, were the first to be destroyed during the raids. So it was decided to fortify them with earthworks and wooden walls. After the War of 1812, Zemlyanoy Val was not only restored but also planted with gardens — and gradually the outlines of the modern Garden Ring road emerged.

Kamer Collegium Rampart

A matter of national importance — the responsibility to collect duties on goods brought to Moscow — fell to the Collegium of State Income. To pay the amount due, you had to go through the gates or outposts of the Collegium's rampart. It existed for a relatively short time, from 1731 to the middle of the 19th century, but it was still considered the border of the city a long time afterwards. Even today, maps of Moscow retain the memory of it: Serpukhovskaya Zastava and Tverskaya Zastava squares, Preobrazhensky Val and Presnensky Val streets — this was once was a rampart of the Collegium. The Third Transport Ring road stretches along its ancient limits now.

Little Ring of the Moscow Railway

The 20th Century was a new era in transportation. It became possible to travel by train from one city to another, providing for faster delivery of goods and mail. Built in 1903–1908, this steel ring surrounded the city. However, the ring railway lost its importance in the 1930s. Only in the 2000s, the ring railway started to gain prominence with the development of the Moscow Central Circle.

Moscow Automobile Ring Road (MKAD)

The furthest limit is Moscow Automobile Ring Road. Its hasty construction around the city began in 1941. The enemy was on the outskirts, and the capital had to be protected. To transport troops and equipment, a 30-kilometre road was built in just a month — at the same time, hundreds of kilometres of old roads were reconstructed. The construction continued after the war, and in the 1990s, MKAD was expanded.

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