Central Gardens and Parks
Moscow gardens and parks are green islets in our huge city where one can get away from the hustle and bustle of the megalopolis, daily routine, work, and noisy roads. Moscow gardens and parks let you enjoy old-age nature and history of the area, go architectural sightseeing or read a book, take a sunbath or do some sports.
1. Alexander Gardens are located in the very heart of Moscow along north-western Kremlin walls. The entrance to the Gardens is situated from the direction of Manezhnaya Square, near the Monument to Marshal Zhukov. Total area of Alexandre Gardens is about 10 hectares (24.7 acres) consisting of several parts. 350-meter stretch Upper Garden was the first to open. The second appeared 382-meter stretch Middle Garden. The smallest Lower Garden, which is only 132 meters long, was open to the public in 1823.The Gardens were built upon the project of an architect O. I. Bove within the 1820 – 1823 timeframe, when Moscow was being reconstructed after the Fire in 1812. It was the emperor Alexander I who issued an order to start the construction process, therefore the Gardens are named after Alexander. Initially the Gardens were supposed to be a memorial. That is why they display such elements as monumental cast-iron gates, decorated with military symbols, the Ruins grotto and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Cascade fountain on the right of the Garden shares its border with Manezhnaya Square.
2. The Aquarium Garden. The Aquarium Garden story traces far back to 1893, the year, when Moscow landlord Malkiel established a new garden; he gave it a name Chicago. Chicago comprised several stages and the theater with a fancy name Aquarium. It is the very theatre which Michail Bulgakov mentioned in his work “The Master and Margarita”. This park stands out of the other Moscow parks due to its theater history. This Garden is perfectly renovated and green planted nature oasis in the heart of the city. There are trodden paths to walk along, benches to get down and have some rest, and fountains to give delight to the Garden visitors. Fountains Satyr, Apollo and Ruchey form the complex. There is a decorative grotto Gorgon Medusa with an artificial flood overflowing from the shell at the back wall of the Garden. There is a bronze of Greek deity Appolo in the shallow basin in the center of a big fountain. The basin, clad in dark-red polished granite, features original stage, where Patron of the arts plays his solo on the water strings of a golden lyre. Bronze Satyr, the host of a small fountain, parks himself in a small basin. Appolo’s eternal companion, he plays the reedpipe, surrounded with air-filled water jets being shed from the fountain bed.
3. Hermitage Garden. The story of this cultural heritage area traces back to the summer of 1895. At the initiative of Moscow artistic coterie, merchant Lipsky and mechanical engineer Moshnin the mansion of merchant Olontsov was turned into unique wonderful theatre and garden. Having been lonesome, the area transformed into the garden organized with flowerbeds and walking paths, decorated with trees and shrubbery. At the same time electric lighting and water supply was laid on, a pool was built. In 2002 the sculptures of Victor Hugo and Dante Alighieri were reconstructed. The first was gifted by Paris, the second was a present from Italian government.
4. The Park at Bolotnaya Square. In the Middle Ages there was a swampy meadow at the current location of Bolotnaya Square. Alongside there were vegetable and fruit gardens of princes and monasteries. In winter time, when the swamp became frozen over, it turned into a market. As the years went by, the area of current Bolotnaya Square transformed into a venue for fist fights and folk festivals having been so popular in Russia. Apart from entertainment this Square was used also as a public execution yard. In the 17th century it was the very spot where Nikita Pustosvyat was beheaded. He was an Old Believer opposing Patriarch Nikon’s church reforms. It was this square, where Andey Bezobrazov and the Magi were burnt in a log house, Stepan Razin was quartered, and Yemelyan Pugachev was decapitated. In the 18th century Bolotnaya Square was called Tsaritsyn Lug, and it was the place to let off fireworks in honor of Catherine I coronation. By the early 19th century the square had been built up with wooden and stone houses. The buildings often served as product warehouses or small shops.
Nowadays Bolotnaya Square is graced with a large green public garden. There are playgrounds for children, benches for leisure, and flower-beds in the area. It’s a place where the youngsters meet and street performers act; fire dancers could be very interesting there.
5. The Park of Trubetskie mansion in Hamovniki. From the late 17th century till the 70s of the 19th century it had been owned by the members of honored and old gentes, the Golitsins and the Trubetskoys. A lot of cultural, military and administrative elitists of Russia visited the mansion at different times. From the late 19th century till October 1917 the mansion had been owned by a merchant Pavel Nemchinov. In 1936 the first park for children in Moscow was organized here. Numerous secular limes, pines and other trees, as well as various shrubberies make the park one of the best woodlands in Moscow. History and contemporaneity exist in harmony in the park. Ponds with walkways and ancient trees create extraordinarily inviting atmosphere.
6. The Catherine Park is a monument to the garden art of 18th – 19th centuries. Of old this area used to be a part of Sushchevo village. In the 17th century there was a grove which still existed in the 18th century. Till the 15th century the park had had a chain of ponds in the bed of the Naprudnaya River (Samotyoka) flowing into the Neglinnaya River downstream in the area of current Samotechnaya Square. Territory development along the course of the Naprudnaya River started in the 16th century. The Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was moved into the area, and the Church of John the Soldier was constructed there.
In the 18th century next to the Church of John the Soldier there was erected Count V. Saltykov’s country mansion, which later came down to his son, Count A. Saltykov, who was one of the noble confidants of the Empress Catherine II, as well as took part in Suvorov Marches. A spacious park with a large pond as a central element was laid out adjacent to the mansion. In 1807 the mansion was reorganized into Catherine’s School for Noble Maidens, and the neighboring park got the name of Catherine.
7. The Krasnaya Presnya Park was formed in 1932 in the area of the Studenets mansion; this historical and architectural landmark is a garden art monument of federal significance. In the late 18th century the mansion belonged to the Princes Gagarins who based the park landscape design, having laid out a system of the Dutch ponds. In 1812 the mansion passes into possession of Moscow Governor-General Arseny Zakrevsky; under the guidance of an architect Domenico Gilardi he constructed an unorthodox memorial complex in honor of heroes of Patriotic War of 1812, as well as reconstructed the territory.
Natural harmony of the park survived to the present day, i. e. ancient parkways, picturesque Dutch ponds with islets and arch bridges. The fact that contemporaries called the Studenets mansion as “sheer Venice in the gardens” has reason behind it. They were Alexander Pushkin, Denis Davydov, and Yevgeny Baratynsky, who promenaded along those parkways.