So you’ve seen Red Square and the Kremlin… what’s next? Look around for hidden treasure of Moscow, you are actually in the oldest part of Old Rus – Kitay Gorod.
Let’s take a Moscow highlights tour, which is best explored on foot. Check our Bus Tour Moscow, if you’re looking for something more dynamic.
21 fun facts about Kitay Gorod
- Kitay Gorod the oldest part of Moscow after the Kremlin, emerged in the 14th century due to the expansion of the boundaries of the Kremlin.
- Kitay Gorod was the place where “Red Heat” with Arnold Schwarzenegger was shot in 1988. It was the first Western film company, which was allowed to shoot in Moscow during the Soviet era.
- Among other Hollywood movies, which served as a backdrop for the streets of Kitay Gorod are “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”, “Get Smart”, Air Force One”.
- In Russian “Kitay-gorod” means “China Town”, but in fact it has nothing to do with Chinese people or culture.
- Officially the territory of Chinatown begins from the Red Square. It has borderes with Lubyanka on the east, and with the Moscow River on the south side.
- The exact origin of the name hasn’t been established yet and for now has two most popular versions. First: Old-Russian word “Kit” meant “an item made by braiding” that was used in the construction of fortifications. Second: “Citta” in Italian meant “citadelle” or fortification, as the walls of Kitay Gorod protected the city from the unwanted visitors.
- The walls of Kitay Gorod used to be high and thick (6 meters in both dimensions) with the length of 2.5 kilometers, but now we can see only small piece of it located in Zaryadye. Fortunately, city officials are planning a big restoration.
- First typography in Russia was founded in 1553 exactly here, in Kitay-gorod (15 Nikolskaya street). All Russian books and newspapers were printed here. During the Soviet era the building was first an archive, and then became a Russian State University.
- First “skyscraper” in Moscow was 5-storeyed building here in Kitay-gorod district. It was built in 1876 and was the highest building of the city for a long long time.
- The Trinity monastery on Ilyinka – Apartment house-monastery of the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra (“Trinity Compound”) is located at 5 Ilinka Street is nowadays an object of cultural heritage of regional significance.
- There is an English Old Court on Varvarka street, the former home of the first foreign representation in Moscow (1553). In 1994 Queen Elizabeth II paid an official visit here.
- When English queen Elizabeth I rejected the flirting of Ivan the Terrible, Russian tsar got so furious that he imprisoned an English ambassador here for a year.
- By the way, it is located a few steps from Chamber of Romanov boyars, hidden from most tourists attraction, local gem.
- The most beautiful building in Kitay Gorod is located on 21 Nikolskaya street: it used to be the biggest pharmacy in Europe at the end of 19th century. The owner, Karl Ferrein, turned his pharmacy into a huge factory with more than 600 workers, with its own medical wines, and plantations. It was be the main supplier of drugs during the WWI.
- One of the most famous streets of Kitay Gorod is Varvarka – Barbarian. It is one of the oldest streets in Moscow. In the old days Varvarka was one of the most prestigious streets of the capital.
- The oldest street of Kitay Gorod was Velikaya -“the Great”, which was older than Moscow itself. Unfortunately, it was demolished in 20th century, and now there is Moskvoretskya embankment.
- Another part of the ancient city of Kitay Gorod is Solyanka, meaning Salt. The street got its name through hydrochloric court, which settled here from the 17th to the 19th century. The intricate system of cellars of the Salt courtyard, still preserved underground Solyanka today, dominates the minds of many adventurers. Solyanka is close to one of seven hills Moscow stands on – Ivanovskaya Hill.
- Perhaps the most colorful part of the China-town in the past was Khitrovka, the existence of which we can track by Khitrovskaya alley. In the 19th century, this area was the gathering place of the provincials coming to Moscow for work. Many of them had nowhere to go, and they spent the night on the square. Gradually, the surrounding houses were turned into rooming house, and the area became a breeding ground for disease and crime. So Khitrovka turned into the most criminal district of Moscow, which numbered as many as 5,000 people.
- Ilyinka street used to be the richest one in Moscow: all banks and offices in 19th century were located here.
- The southern lobby of the metro station “Kitay Gorod” preserved a fragment of white stone foundations of ancient Barbarian towers.
- There are 4 monasteries, 24 churches, cathedrals, and 8 chapels in the area of Kitay gorod.
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