Bolotnaya Square in Moscow
Bolotnaya Square in Moscow ("Bolotnaya Ploschad") is quite a historical place. After all, it's been around since 15th century - long enough to be listed in Moscow tourist brochures. However, age is not the only reason I'm telling you about it, as Bolotnaya Square has its history with many dark pages...
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The square is located on a small island between Moskva River and its bypass channel, right across from Moscow Kremlin. The name "Bolotnaya" comes from the Russian "bolOto" - "swamp", and that's because in the past, that area got flooded every summer. I guess it was not very pleasant for Russian rulers to see this mess, and later on the drainage system was installed. So don't worry, it's safe to visit the square in summer these days, you won't drown
The colorful flowerbeds.
Before the October revolution, this was not a good place to live. First of all, the famous Russian rebels Stepan "Sten'ka" Razin and Yemelyan Pugachev were executed there. Note they were not connected to communists in any way - Razin lived in 17th century while Pugachev was born in the 18th. However, communists were not the only ones who rebelled against Russian monarchy, and Pugachev even went as far as to proclaim himself the true Russian Tsar. Needless to say, their deaths were very painful. Back then, I think it wouldn't be very different in Western Europe.
At some time there was a market on Bolotnaya Square. The money was good, and so there were lots of shops and stalls around. Again, back then (and also today), such markets drew all kinds of crooks from around Moscow, and that didn't really helped the place's reputation. In addition, a poor neighborhood was adjacent to the market, with all those huts and curvy streets where anything could happen to you. In short, it was like London back in the days, with crime, prostitution and terrible poverty.
After the revolution, the Soviet government realized it couldn't go on like that anymore. The place was completely changed, the huts and the market were completely demolished to make room for warehouses. Later on, somewhere around 1940s, it was decided to set up a park there. I can understand why they did that - after all, the place is near Kremlin, and warehouses are not exactly something that should be placed next to it.
These days, the park on Bolotnaya Square remained untouched. Well, it was touched in fact, but only to the better. Lawns, beautiful flowerbeds, plenty of benches to rest after tiresome walking around Moscow and of course - a very nice fountain. All of those cool things are right there, you just need to walk across Luzhkov Bridge. Oh, and if you approach the square through the bridge then you will stumble upon the statue of Ilya Repin, a famous Russian painter.
The statue of Ilya Repin at the entrance to the square.
However, that statue is not the only one on the square. If you walk across the park, you will see a whole group of sculptures called "The children – victims of adult vices". You will see two blindfolded children surrounded by all kinds of vices - theft, alcoholism, violence, indifference etc. The composition was made by famous Moscow sculptor Mihail Chemiakin, whose only competitor is Zurab Tsereteli himself.
Chemiakin's work was widely criticized for focusing on vices, but I think that's because he managed to capture something very-very important. Didn't leave me indifferent for sure - every time I see it, I can't help thinking if I'm being a good father to my kid....
The statue of War is at the right side of the picture.
By the way, at night there is no access to sculptures as they are surrounded with a fence, and the gates are only opened during the day. It is done to prevent vandalism, and unfortunately there's quite a lot of it in Moscow. So if you're interested to see the composition, it's best if you do it during the day hours.
In fact, despite all the flowers and sculptures, Bolotnaya Square still has dubious reputation, as there are many informal groups of youngsters that like to spend the nights there. During the day, it's completely safe - there're a lot of moms walking around with small kids and plenty of newlyweds that take photo shoots on Luzhkov Bridge.
What a nice view!
I wouldn't advise you to get there at night, however, although you can sometimes see some cool fire dancing.
Since Bolotnaya Square is the very center of Moscow, you can get to probably 90% of Moscow sights from there, be it The Kremlin, The Red Square or Alexander Garden. Or, you can walk across Luzhkov Bridge to Tretyakov Gallery. However, even you aren't really planning on going anywhere else, you can just enjoy the beautiful view with channel and fountains that are lighted with all kinds of colors at night.
....that is, if you're brave enough to face Moscow youngsters that gather on Bolotnaya
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