The city of Moscow has a long, rich history, and offers more than I can see or do in just a few days. It is definitely sensory overload. But I think most of my travel friends would love it here. The Kremlin, is basically the center of their universe, mine too for that matter. I am just about ten minutes from The Kremlin and Red Square.
Visualize, if you will, a wheel with spokes, or a flower like a daisy. The Kremlin is the center of the wheel, or the daisy. The six districts, or okrugs, emanate out like spokes, wit the primary spoke or petal, the Tverskaya Street area going north from Red Square. I am sitting on the edge of Tverskaya and the more traditional Petrovka district.
And, interestingly, it is adjacent to the Ukrainian Quarter, with many step and crooked lanes, with many, shall we say, architectural delights. The area looks prime for wandering! Did you hear that, old travel buddy, Mike?
Just south, the old Zamoskvarechye (easy for you to say) neighborhood, translates to “the land beyond the Moscow River”. The area feels quite different from the rest of the city, with settlements dating back to the 13th century. The Mongols camped here to collect their tribute from their Muscovite subjects. Then, the Muscovites eventually moved into the neighborhood.
After the demise of the Mongols, craftsmen and artisans moved into the area into walled compounds. They seem to like walls here! Each walled compound housed a different guild, like tanners, weavers, drug dealers (just kidding), sheepskin curers, and barrel makers. Each had a council of elected elders called a mirsky soviet.
Guilds flourished, communities built churches, with many still standing. Of course, they do not compare to the magnificence of nearby Kremlin cathedrals and churches. But eventually, gentrification took place, with many mansions, and Russia’s first art gallery, Tretyakov Gallery. The area grew up, and became the major industrial district of the city. Soon it became part of the ugliness of Russian history. of the city.
Marshy Square was the site of public executions. The House of the Embankment went from a prestigious residence for the Communist elite to a real house of terror during Stalin’s purges. But today, the artsy feel is back, with galleries, antique dealers, and cafes.
But like Moscow, and Russia, and its people, the area has survived and flourished. It is filled with art galleries, cafes, antique shops, and tourists like me. I will get over to the Tretyakov Gallery later today or tomorrow, I promise.
I shall wander over there this afternoon or tomorrow morning, before leaving to St. Petersburg, my final stop of this wonderful journey. But I did manage to get to the famous Arbat shopping district. It is a mélange of tourist shopping, mid level eateries, street artists, and cheap trinkets. This city offers so much, and I am running out of time!
Side Note: My excellent guide here, Irina, asked me where I am next going. I said I have no list, the so called “list” has never been a goal of mine. But I thought perhaps Burma, since it is now a more open society. Perhaps they, like their Russian counterparts, have seen the light!