Vozdvizhenka Street in Moscow
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Vozdvizhenka is a short street located right in the center of Moscow. However, despite its small size, it's very significant both historically and architecturally. Plus, it's very interesting even if you don't give a nickel about Moscow history.
Vozdvizhenka starts from Alexander Garden (from the side of Kutafya Tower) and spans until Arbatskaya Square. If you exit Arbatskaya Moscow metro station towards Khudozhestvenny cinema, you can walk that street towards Moscow Kremlin. When you're there, you can continue to Alexander Garden and then the entire center of Moscow will lie before you.
It also looks nice, isn't it?
The first thing you'll see on Vozdvizhenka is a very unusual house that used to belong to excentric millionaire Arseny Morozov, a relative of famous Russian philantropist Savva Morozov. Look at all those towers and delicate patterns - that building looks like it doesn't belong to Moscow at all. In fact, that's not very far from the truth.
You see, Arseny loved to travel. He was young and he was rich, so there was no reason not to. Anyways, when he was in Spain, he saw the Pena National Palace in Sintra, and was amazed by it. Well, guess what - Arseny was a true Russian, and so he decided to build himself a copy of that palace. Some say that when his mother saw the house, she said "Before, only I knew you were a fool. Now, the whole Moscow will!"
I don't know how the professional architects treat that building, but I love it. When you exit the pompous metro station and escape the ever-hurrying crowd, you'll see that house and your mood will instantly improve. Well, I may be biased because it reminds me of my childhood.
During the Soviet times, the place was assigned for House of the Friendship of the Nations. Many of the foreign emissaries arrived there, and all the boring, official receptions also took place in Arseny's house. Right now it's called the House of Receptions of the Government of the Russian Federation (phew, that was a long one). Its functions didn't change, but unfortunately it's nearly impossible to get inside because of the high security. That's a pity, because the interior is truly amazing - different rooms feature different styles. There are baroque rooms, imperial rooms, the knights hall, and even Chinese and Arabic decorations. Alas, if you aren't a member of diplomatic mission then all you can do is to watch from outside.
However, don't be upset because Vozdvizhenka has much more to show you. For example, right after you exit the metro you'll see the House of Mosselprom (Moscow Council of Agriculture), built in the finest traditions of Constructivism and Avant-garde. Its story starts in 1912, when the new owner of the place decided to build a seven stories house. Since he was in a rush to finish the works, in 1913 one of the walls has collapsed.
World War I has slowed down the construction, and by 1917 only part of the house was complete. During the Soviet times, more stories were added to the building, and it was transferred to Mosselprom. There were offices, a warehouse and even apartments for the workers. When the tower crowning one of its corners was added, the building was called the first Soviet skyscraper.
The house exterior was very original - almost the entire facade was covered with commercial banners. Naturally, that was very unusual for the Soviet union. However, that's not all, as the pictures and the slogans were drawn right on the bricks. Vladimir Mayakovsky, a famous Soviet poet, was responsible for the slogans, but you'll have to get around the building and inside the yard to see them. By the way, there's a whole metro station in Moscow named after the poet - Mayakovskaya.
During the 30s, the commercials were erased, and in 1937 the house was turned into strictly residential. Only in 1997, the building of Mosselprom was fully restored together with all the ads, but unfortunately right now it requires another restoration.
Let's continue our tour along Vozdvizhenka. Before, there was an original building of Voentorg (military surplus store) built in 1913. It was a nice example of elegant Art Nouveau style. Even during the Soviet years it didn't change its function. However, I'm sorry to inform you that in 2003 it was demolished by the order of the Moscow government.
That decision caused a huge discontent among Moscow historians and architects, letters were even written to the President. Well, I guess that someone was just more influential. Despite the promises to restore the building to its original looks, right now we have just another office building that's 6 times bigger than the old one.
In addion, several more historic buildings were demolished during its construction, so the damage was huge. Right now, all we have left from the old Voentorg are two sculptures of warriors near the entrance. You should know that according to the Forbes poll of 2010, the building was called the ugliest one in Moscow.
If you walk beyond the former Voentorg building, you'll see the building of Russian State Library, the former Lenin's library. People still call it by its old name, and it's the biggest library we have. It has books written in 367 languages, pictures, maps and even music sheets! Many old manuscripts are also held there, some of them belong to the famous Russian authors.
The buildings of the library are also interesting. From Vozdvizhenka, you'll see the new one, crowned by 22 statues of famous sculptors. Right across from it is a monument of Dostoevsky, one of the most famous Russian writers. Check out my page about Dostoevskaya if you want to learn more. By the way, that small square with the monument is a popular meeting place. After all, it's right in the center of Moscow and near the metro, so why not meet there? By the way, the subway station is still called "Lenin's Library", so you can't miss the place.
Well, we've reached the end of Vozdvizhenka. Here, you have a great view on Kutafya Tower, and you can also enter the Alexander Garden, where you can rest or continue walking. There are many more interesting buildings on that street, but it's impossible to write about each one of them.
Enjoy your tour!
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