Moscow tourism does not get as much global attention as you might expect. Our guess is because people don’t know yet all the interesting facts listed below. Visiting Moscow is more than vodka, babushka doll and Kremlin. Way more.
Moscow city is a true jewel if you’re into history, culture and architecture. And this article is a diamond if you like rare facts about Moscow, not the typical info from travel books. Our Moscow guides collected 47 facts from our Moscow tours to all major Moscow sights.
47 Fun Facts about Moscow Landmarks
- Novodevichy Convent is the best example of Moscow`s baroque.
- The widows from royal families had to go to the monastery.
- The Novodevichy monastery was built after and in honor of the victory over Smolensk, which became the territory of Grand Duchy of Muscovy in 1514.
- There are several explanations of the name Novodevichy. The most common one is the existence of Devichie pole (Maidens’ Field) on that side. During the Еatar`s invation, it was the place where girls were being chosen as the part of tribute.
- French soldiers almost burned down the Novodevichy monastery, but local nuns managed to save the monastery by pouring water on it.
- The Uspenskaya church (Church of Dormition) is open only in summer, since it has no central hitting. Why? To protect icons from too big temperature jump.
- This is one of the best spots from where you can see Moscow City Business Center, so contrastive to the atmosphere and environment of the Novodevichy.
Around the Kremlin
- The Lazy street, or Lenivka, is called that way due to a lazy market, which was located there. It wasn’t lazy actually, it couldn’t be so, as it was always noisy and busy area. The market there was called lazy just because it was the first Leroi Merlin, a shop of ready-made parts of houses! People doing shopping there were lazy to make these parts themselves and preferred to buy them!
- We have the so-called Ray-looking streets in Moscow. This is because all the major streets initially started from the Kremlin towers, running outside the Kremlin wall as rays of the sun. The streets in St Petersburg are laid out in an absolutely different way, by the way.
- The side of the Kremlin wall which is closer to the Beyond-the-Moskva-river district or Zamoskvorechie, has the biggest number of towers (7). It was best protected from Tatar-Mongol Yoke – Orda (the street in Zamoskvorechie is called Ordynka not accidentally, as well), which always attacked the Kremlin from that side.
- The House on the Embankment, one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, a huge complex of facades, was an experimental “city in the city”. It had everything people needed – a laundry, a kindergarten, a supermarket, a club and whatnot. But it’s sadly known for the tragic destinies of its residents, who were all prominent people and most of them died in Gulag or got executed by the government.
- Nowadays prestigious Zamoskvorechye was not the best place to settle down in ancient times. It was a swampy area, regularly flooded until the canal was constructed. No one would live there, so the Tsar gave an order to his personal guards to settle down there with their families, for what they got tax privileges.
- Pashkov House, which is a part of the State Library nowadays, used to belong to Graf Rumyantsev which was a passionate collector of manuscripts. This is what the Lenin Library started from.
- The Big Stone Bridge behind the Kremlin was the first permanent bridge in Moscow. Before The Big Stone Bridge all the bridges in Moscow were more like rafts and were called “live bridges” that could be moved anywhere anytime.
- The huge steamed tubes that you can see while walking along the Kremlin embankment are the first gas electricity station in Moscow. The station is still working and supplies the Kremlin. Only the Kremlin.
Prechistenka street and the surroundings
- One of the most dangerous flood in Moscow happened in 1908, the water level reached its maximum, approximately 2 meters. Three first days people used boats to move around a downtown.
- Prechistenka is home to one of the most marvelous Moscow buildings – Pertseva’s House, which is almost in front of Christ the Savior Cathedral. After the revolution in 1918, Lev Trotsky occupied the apartment. Politicians who visited him marked its rich interiors as they reminded a wooden palace. Nowadays these interiors don’t exist anymore, unfortunately. This building was a popular place among many Russian celebrities, such as the founders of Moscow Art Theatre Nemirocivh-Danchenko and Stanislavsky.
- Prechistenskaya embankment, 31 nowadays is occupied by the Swiss Consulate. This station used to be a hydraulic station and pump water from the Moskva river to supply Sandunovsky baths. The cleaning process was impressive, it had around 20 steps of cleaning.
- Church of Elijah the Prophet in Obydensky lane never stopped operating, even during the Soviet times. The legend has it that the church was supposed to be closed on the 22nd of June, 1941. That day turned out to be the first day of the WWII… Nobody cared about the church anymore, so politicians decided to keep the church after the war.
- 1493 is the year of the first mentioning of the street in ancient manuscripts, which was a year famous for a huge fire in Moscow.
- Many Russian cities have a street called Arbat, but the first Arbat was in Moscow.
- More than 500 artists, actors, musicians and poets lived in this street. Their aristocratic life was full of parties and we even have a proverb “when people in Zamoskvorechie wake up to go to work, people in the Arbat street go to bed”.
- The street itself doesn’t have famous architectural landmarks, but it is Moscow’s Covent Garden, and that is why we love it.
- During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Arbat area was a place of his guards – Oprichnina.
- The street goes from East to West and was used by foreign embassies and for military. The French troops used this street to come to Moscow from the Poklonnaya Hill.
- There is no wind in this street because of a peculiar way the Vakhtangov Theatre on Arbat was constructed.
- The residents of Arbat can be described with one word – “intelligentsia”, which is not translated, as it was a unique Russian class in society. Your guide will give you more details about the origina of the name.
- 50000 people lived on Arbat before the WWII.
- The first trolley bus ran on Arbat street, but after the underground bunker was built it was decided to make the street pedestrian only because otherwise it could collapse.
- The owner of the Prague restaurant (Arbat street, 2) got it as a prize while gambling.
- Arbat, 4 is the house where the present Russian State Humanitarian University started – it was the first institute of higher education for people from ordinary families.
- The Melnikov House, built in constructivist style, is in one of the Arbat lanes (Krivoarbatsky lane, 6), and is open only one night a year during the Night of Museums.
- The turkoise Pushkin House Museum at Arbat, 53 was rented by him and his wife Natalia Goncharova for half a year during their honeymoon. This is the house where his last party as a bachelor was held, his friends wrote later “Pushkin was sad, he cried, was reading his poems”. His marriage was followed by a number of unlucky signs: the candle burnt, he dropped the ring… Later on, he was shot on a duel with a Frenchman because of Natalia.
- Zamoskvorechey became a part of Moscow only in 18 century.
- Until 1935 year the Church of St Paraskevi was located on the site where now we have Novokuznetskaya metro station. The street is named after the church.
- Right behind our favorite Korchma restaurant there is a house where Leo Tosloy lived. Nowadays there is a flower market in his house without any memorial plaques.
- The church of St Kliment was used like a storage for book collection of Lenin Library until the decay of Soviet Union.
- The house where a famous Soviet actor Rolan Bykov lived with his family is on the left side from the church of St Kliment.
- In Imperial Russia and even in the Soviet time Zamoskvorechye was rather dangerous district where people from the so-called street gangs ruled the area. There is even the movie made in 1987 and called “Прощай, шпана замоскворецкая” (Goodbye, Zamoskvorechye gang).
- In USSR the police station was located at on Pyatnitskaya street, 29/8. Right there in one-storey added building there was a famous pub (советская пивнушка) with very cheap beer, which used to be a favorite place for many Russians.
- In 18-19 centuries you could buy a house in a present-day luxurious Zamoskvorechye for a very cheap price, the government even presented some buildings to merchants where they could open their shops, that`s why there are so many old buildings signs (especially on Pyatnitskaya) street even now.
- Pyantinkaya street is ideal for food tours in Moscow: the street is lined with Ukranian Korchma, Siberian Altay restaurant, typically Russian Mu-Mu and Grabli, Caucasus Jon Joli, a lot of coffee places, pubs and even a Jazz cafe.
- Even after the country became European (at the times of Peter the Great), rich people still built wooden houses, not only because it was way cheaper, but because it was simply healthier to live in the house made of wood. A house could burn in a minute, true, but the people who lived on Tverskaya could easily build a new one.
- The furniture was extremely expensive though, that is why even families like Sheremetiev had to carry it from their house in Moscow to Kuskovo in summer and take it back in winter.
- Do you know why Moscow looks so clean on old pictures? Taking photos was a luxury at that time, so streets were thoroughly cleaned before photo shooting.
- The most famous “moving houses” were the building of the Moscow City Council (now the Moscow City Duma) and Savvino Storozhevsky courtyard. Moscow City Council Transfer was being planned for four months, and executed in just 40 minutes: the 20-ton house was moved for 13.5 meters. 24-ton Savvinsky Compound moved even further – 50 meters into yards. Now the elegant building with baroque and modern elements can be admired through the archway to the Tverskaya street, 6.
- If you’re looking for an authentic place for a snack, Cheburechnaya USSR (Meat Pastry Eatery of USSR) just next to the McDonalds on Tverskaya, would be a unique experience for you.
Learn more fun facts from our amazing private Moscow guides.
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