Moscow is a truly merchant city. Over the years, it has been home to the country's trading elite, including the Morozovs, the Ryabushinskys, the Bakhrushins, the Mamontovs, the Tretyakovs, the Soldatenkovs and many more. These famous merchants have had a particular influence on the city's development, and are responsible for the building of churches, shelters and educational and medical institutions. Take a walk along a route dedicated to the most famous families in Zamoskvorechye District.
This is the only church to fully survive the fire of 1812. Its carved and gilded wall of icons decorated with sculptures managed to survive intact and remains unrivalled in Moscow. The church is believed to be the work of Pietro Trezzini, the architect behind numerous palaces and churches in St. Petersburg. The current building appeared at the end of the 18th century. The reconstruction of the stone church was paid for by the merchant Kuzma Matveev, who lived in a mansion nearby. Matveev owned clothing factories near Kursk and was the inventor of rare fabric dyes of the same quality as their foreign counterparts.
Location: 26 Pyatnitskaya St.
The two houses at No. 27 are the outbuildings of the former estate of the Zhuravlevs, who made their wealth in the 18th century from the fur trade. Their city estate comprised a central mansion and two outbuildings overlooking the street. Unfortunately, the manor house was demolished, but the outbuildings survive to this day. The unique positioning of the side walls resulted in a trapezoidal interior. As a result, the house created an optical illusion: from Pyatnitskaya St., the building seemed closer than it actually was, while looking at the street from the building's porch made it appear further away.
Location: 27 Pyatnitskaya St.
The merchant Vladimir Bonya owned a soap factory. His house, one of the tallest in the neighbourhood, was built in the neoclassical style traditional for Moscow at the time. It is adorned with large relief ornaments, bay windows and decorative vases. Robert Koeller's pharmacy was located on the ground floor. Koeller was the first in the country to produce drugs on an industrial scale. The pre-revolution press noted that his company was credited with the emergence of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia. Bonya's house has never been renovated, meaning the original interior decor and layout have been preserved.
Location: 20 Pyatnitskaya St.
The Church of the Holy Martyr Paraskeva has stood at the current site of the metro station since the 16th century. Paraskeva is the patron saint of merchants and entrepreneurs and the guarantor of fair trade. For this reason, the church contained a standard arshin (an old unit of measurement akin to a cubit) for merchants to use as a reference. It is said that disreputable merchants were made to swallow a measuring stick the length of an arshin (about 71 cm) and pace around this standard. The Russian language has an expression that translates as 'to walk like you swallowed an arshin'. The church has been rebuilt several times using funds provided by wealthy merchants. One such patron was the merchant Pyotr Gubonin.
Location: 23B Novokuznetskaya St.
Vasily Vargin was known as 'the patron in the overcoat'. His family knitted and sold a kind of mittens called 'varigi'— hence the surname 'Vargin'. By the age of 16, the founder of the dynasty had received his first government contract to supply fabric to the army. The young Vargin excelled in his handling of the order, and went on to become the Russian army's main supplier of cloth and fabric during the Patriotic War of 1812. His support for the motherland took precedence above all else, and he sometimes made deliveries at a loss. The merchant was rewarded for his achievements with the diamond-studded Medal for Zeal and the title of Hereditary Honorary Citizen.
Location: 16 Pyatnitskaya St.
The luxury building lined with green ceramics was known as the Emerald on Pyatnitskaya.
It was built by the architect Fyodor Schechtel at the request of the furrier Ilya Halperin.
Schechtel worked in the Art Nouveau style and employed 'kabanchik' ('little boar') tiles in his works.
The tiles get their name from their two openings at the back which resemble a piglet's heel. Surprisingly, the shop continued to sell luxury fur products throughout the Soviet years.
Location: 13 Pyatnitskaya St.
This house dates back to the 18th century. The chambers behind the main building originally belonged to Vasily Rzhevsky, the captain of the Preobrazhensky Life-Guard Regiment. Rzhevsky was given the land by Peter the Great. However, the officer did not live here for long. The estate went on to be owned by merchants for almost two centuries. The first merchant owner of the estate was the textile dealer Ivan Zhuravlev, who built storage and production facilities on the premises. The following owners were the Grachev merchants. They organized textile production in the village (now city) of Ivanovo in Vladimir province.
Location: 13/9 Chernihiv Pereulok, building 1
Nikolay Grigoriev was a producer of meat delicacies who was known as the Sausage King of Moscow. After the abolition of serfdom, Nikolay, the son of a peasant, left for Moscow and started trading in pies. He saved up enough money to open a small sausage business in Okhotny Ryad. Grigoriev later opened a sausage factory in Kadashevskaya Sloboda, which produced 43% of all the sausage products made in Moscow. His products were exported to many European countries. The factory became the Supplier of the Court of His Imperial Majesty and was awarded gold medals at exhibitions in Paris and London.
Location: 3 2nd Kadashevskiy Pereulok, building 1
The church is an outstanding monument in the Moscow Baroque style. The construction of the stone church was paid for by the guests (merchants) Kondrat and Longin Dobrynin. Later, a six-tier bell tower with a tented roof was built here. It was popularly known as the 'candle'. It featured a bell weighing over six tons, which was paid for by the silk factory owner Ivan Sadovnikov. The original bells were given to the Bolshoi Theatre, where they remain part of the historical belfry of Russia's main opera stage to this day. They can be heard in productions such as Boris Godunov, The Tsar's Bride, and A Life for the Tsar.
Location: 7 2nd Kadashevskiy Pereulok
The site of the famous Tretyakov Gallery is also home to the buildings of the Gusiatnikov merchants. This trading dynasty was respected in Moscow as far back as the 17th century, when Sergei Gusiatnikov was appointed custodian of the Sable treasury. Furs, precious stones and gold were delivered there from Siberia like royalty. His assets enabled his son and grandchildren to sell wine in Moscow and organise their Drinks Company. The Gusiatnikovs also owned hat, linen and clothing factories, a brewery and around 40 shops in different parts of Moscow.
Location: 4 Lavrushinsky Pereulok, building 1
Contemporaries of the Tretyakov brothers regarded them as talented entrepreneurs, and referred to them as the 'Kostroma linen workers'. Mikhail Zakharovich (father of Pavel and Sergey) produced fabrics and sold them at shops in Kitay-Gorod. Pavel Mikhailovich visited the Hermitage one day while on business in St. Petersburg. He was so impressed by the richness of the art collection that he made it his life's purpose to create a Russian art gallery in Moscow. Today, the Tretyakov Gallery is a leading museum not only in Moscow, but throughout Russia, and works from its collection are known throughout the world.
Location: 10 Lavrushinsky Pereulok
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The imaginary border of the 16th century
How a swamp turned into a prestigious street
A unique kaleidoscope of architectural styles