Moscow is a city built on seven hills. One of them, Vagankovsky Hill, is located right opposite the Kremlin. This hill is where Moscow's dukes kept their treasury, and where nobles that made the country's history had their residences. It has left its mark on culture, literature and the arts. On this route, you're going to learn about how unique art collections were put together, how museum associations were set up, how to find the addresses of famous artists and literary characters and much more.
The history of one of the largest libraries in the world is closely intertwined with Count Nikolay Rumyantsev, the founder of the Rumyantsev Museum in Saint Petersburg. He collected historic books and manuscripts, compiled chronicles of ancient Russian cities, published Old Russian manuscripts and studied the customs and rites of the country's various indigenous peoples. His museum's unique collection was moved from Saint Petersburg to Pashkov House in Moscow in 1861. Today, it is a leading research facility housing a 47-million item strong collection of scientific information. 34 reading halls are open to visitors.
Place: 3/5 Vozdvizhenka St.
The monument to classic Russian literature writer Fyodor Dostoevsky was erected here to mark his 175th birthday and the 850th anniversary of Moscow in 1997. The bronze sculpture depicts the writer sitting on a bench. He appears to be thinking about something and is sitting rather uncomfortably, with the expression on his face suggesting sadness and sorrow. Other potential locations for the monument included several sites close to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, but the library was chosen in the end. While working on his books, the writer often visited the reading halls of the Rumyantsev, as well as other public museums that later went on to form the V. Lenin State Library.
Place: 3/5 Vozdvizhenka St.
This relatively small Moscow estate house in the quiet Starovagankovskiy Lane was built in the mid-19th century. It's where the famous Russian artist Valentin Serov lived and worked between autumn 1908 and 1911. He loved Moscow, moving here permanently in 1878. When he was young, Serov attended classes taught by Ilya Repin in Khamovniki. This is where he also met the philanthropist Savva Mamontov. Thanks to Mamontov, Serov spent some highly productive years in Abramtsevo—this is the period during which he painted his famous Girl with Peaches. The flat in the lane was Serov's last address. He painted numerous portraits of his contemporaries there, as well as a series of historical works.
Place: 21 Starovagankovskiy Lane
17 Starovagankovskiy Lane was the meeting place of the famous performance arts commission of Moscow that didn't like Woland's tricks in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. During the events of the book, all the civil servants working for the commission go insane. The building was constructed in the 19th century. It was paid for by the mother of Valerian Golitsyn, who took part in the Decembrist revolt. The estate later belonged to Nikolay Pastukhov, a famous journalist and the owner of the Moskovsky Listok newspaper.
The open-work metal grate bearing the owner's initials, 'NP', survives to this day.
Place: 17 Starovagankovskiy Lane, building 3
The first church was built here on the order Moscow's dukes back in the 14th century. The stone building we see here today was built much later, in the 18th century. When the Institute for Nobles moved to Pashkov House, the church became the local church for the school and later for the Rumyantsev Museum. According to a student's memoirs, the writer Nikolai Gogol liked attending this church. The student recalls attending an Easter morning service with him, standing by the left choir section next to the Russian historian Mikhail Pogodin. In 1896, the priest Leonid Chichagov—a huge lover of the arts—was put in charge of the church.
Place: 14 Starovagankovskiy Lane
'The most elegant structure in all of Russia', was how the poet Mikhail Venevitinov described Pashkov House. This masterpiece of classical architecture was commissioned by Peter Pashkov, the affluent son of Peter I's valet. It is commonly believed that the house was designed by Vasily Bazhenov. Interestingly, the building originally had orange walls. It was believed to be the first civilian building in Moscow whose windows looked out onto the Kremlin from above rather than from below, though archaeological research has found this to be incorrect. The estate house is described in detail in The Master and Margarita. Pashkov House now contains three library sections.
Place: 3/5 Vozdvizhenka St.
The Lopukhins were a noble family that grew close to the Romanov royal family through Yevdokiya Lopukhina, the first wife of Peter the Great. The estate later housed a textile factory. One contemporary remarked with surprise, 'I would never have expected the owner of the factory to create this kind of establishment and turn it into such a success. It has 150 looms operated almost exclusively by Russians, who make practically everything'. The International centre of the Roerichs moved here in 1989. In 2019, the estate was handed over to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
Place: 3/5 Maly Znamensky
This very old block of the white city became known as Chertolye in the 14th century. Moscow nobles chose this area to settle, with buildings changing hands, being torn down and burning down in fires over the years. The estate and the garden got their modern appearance after 1812. By 1817, state councillor P. Glebov—a friend of the Pushkins and godfather to their third son, Lev—had built a wooden empire-style estate house with adjoining garden. After the 1917 revolution, the building housed various facilities for children. The building and surrounding garden still survive in part to this day, and the estate is now home to the Museyon Centre for Aesthetic Education for Children and Young People.
Place: 6/2, 3 Kolymazhny
One of the country's newest and most unusual museums, home to over forty collections donated by philanthropists and the personal collections of various artists. The collections vary in terms of content and structure and are grouped by art form.
The museum's collection currently has over eight thousand storage units, which house Russian and Western European art from the 15th to 20th centuries. These include paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative art pieces and photographic art.
Place: 10 Volkhonka
Ilya Glazunov donated over 300 works to the city of Moscow in 1997 to mark its 850th anniversary. A building on Volkhonka street was allocated to store them, with the plan at the time being to eventually convert it into a museum. It currently stores over 700 pieces by the famous artist. This huge collection of images created by the artist during the second half of the 20th century includes panoramic paintings, historical paintings, illustrations for various works of Russian literature and numerous portraits. In addition to Glazunov's pieces, the gallery also features a photo exhibition dedicated to significant milestones in his career.
Place: 13 Volkhonka
The first stone of the Emperor Alexander III Museum of Fine Arts at the Imperial Moscow University was laid in 1898. The building was designed to evoke an ancient temple set on a high podium with ionic pillars across its facade. The interior combines elements from various historical periods in accordance with the exhibits on display. Today, the museum is home to one of Russia's largest collections of foreign art, ranging from ancient times to modernity. Exhibits include large collections of pieces from antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Place: 13 Volkhonka
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The PANORAMA360 observation deck shows off Moscow in all its beauty
From expats to squatters
Moscow is a city of romance and love
Moscow's Space-exploration Sites
History of Moscow Boulevard
The imaginary border of the 16th century
A unique kaleidoscope of architectural styles
You can walk along Moscow streets without leaving your home
The unique excursion to the Mayor's Office in Moscow
Where Moscow's Famous Merchants Lived
The largest palace and park ensemble in Moscow
The largest public library in Russia and one of the largest libraries in the world
An online tour through one of the most beautiful and cozy public gardens in Moscow
Interesting story one of Moscow streets
From Boyars to Oligarchs
How a swamp turned into a prestigious street
One of the oldest zoos in Europe