Top facts about Old Moscow Streets

There are more than 3,500 streets, lanes and highways in Moscow. But what is the oldest street? The longest? The most beautiful?
Let’s take a walk down Moscow streets: Nikolskaya, Ilyinka, Varvarka, Tverskaya, Kuznetsky Most, Old Arbat and New Arbat to name just a few.

From the Middle Ages Moscow streets were distinguished by the professions, nationalities and social classes of people living there. This was reflected in the names of many streets of old Moscow.
The streets of the center of Moscow, which we are going to talk about, were inhabited by eminent nobles, bureaucratic people and the merchants who traded on Red Square.

The streets of Chinatown

Nikolskaya street

Nikolskaya street was formed at the site of the road that led from the Kremlin to Rostov, Suzdal and Vladimir, the cities of present Golden Ring. On this road was the old monastery of St. Nicholas, so the street simply got its name from the monastery. Nikolskaya street was the street of trade, as well as education: you can find here the first Printing House of Moscow, Slavic Greek Latin Academy and the first pharmacy of Moscow. In old times the street was famous for 26 bookstores on it, out of 31 total in Moscow.

Ilyinka

Ilyinka is located in the center of Moscowб between Red Square and the former Ilyinsky gate of Chinatown. Ilyinka is named after Elias Monastery and Church of Elijah the Prophet.

In the old days Ilyinka was a shopping street, then the street of banks, insurance companies, business offices, and in Soviet times it was the street that housed the state and party institutions.

Varvarka

Named for being the Church of St. Varvara (Barbara).Varvarka was the street of cathedrals, Here is preserved the old Guest House, where previously stayed travelers, merchants and diplomats.

In the XV-XVII centuries English ambassador’s house on Varvarka street was the residence of the British trading company Moscow. Varvarka led to the ancient city of Vladimir. Prince Dmitry Donskoy was riding along this street when returning from the Battle of Kulikovo (1380).

Varvarka street was mainly for nobles, as evidenced by the museum the House of Romanov boyars. At the same time it was a shopping area, where settled the poor,and people from all over Moscow came here to buy or sell something.

Velikaya(Great, now non-existent)

Great street was the first street in Moscow, and the oldest. It ran along the bank of the Moskva river to the Church of the Conception of St. Anne. Now this place is the hotel “Russia”.

White City – Boulevards of Moscow

In 1586-1593 years under Ivan the Terrible was built the Stone Wall of the third defensive zone of Moscow. Part of the city between China Town and the new wall was called the White City.

At the end of the XVIII century under Catherine II the Stone Wall was dismantled and the area was laid out with Boulevards. The Boulevard Ring was formed out of 10 streets-boulevards with a total length of more than 9 km.

Earthen city – Garden Ring

In 1592-1593 years the fourth line of fortifications was built: a deep moat, a shaft and a wooden wall 17 km long, up to 5 meters high, with 34 towers and gates.

Skorokhod was the so-called new city between the earthen rampart and White City. Then this part of the city became known as the Earthen city.

After the war with Napoleon in 1812 the moat was filled with earth mound. Thus was formed a new street more than 60 m wide all around the city street. 20 meters were left for the road itself, and the rest area was planted with gardens. The new street was named Sadovaya (Garden’s) and was divided into 20 separate streets and squares with the addition of “Sadovaya” to the main title: Sadovo-Kudrinskaya, Sadovo-Triumphalnaya, Sadovo-Spassky etc.

The length of Modern Garden Ring is about 16 km.

Our Friendly Local Guide on Tverskaya street

Our Friendly Local Guide on Tverskaya street

From the Kremlin to the Garden Ring

Tverskaya street is the main street of Moscow.

Tverskaya street was first mentioned in XII century. The street was popular among the boyars and nobility. Under Ivan III, Tverskaya Street was locked for the night  from 1504 until 1750.

There were boyars, including luxury mansions Matvey Gagarin, who was then governor of Siberia.

In 1770, Tverskaya Street opened its doors to the famous grocery store Eliseevskiy.

In 1790 the architect Domenico Gilardi created the English club, which became the Museum of Revolution in the Soviet time.

The first tram in the city ran on Tverskaya street in 1872.

By the beginning of 1917 Tverskaya street was a rather narrow street. In the Soviet time, it was decided to expand and straighten the main street to get more room for tanks. A lot of buildings, especially churches were demolished, and some houses were moved.

Kamergersky lane is quite small, only two hundred and fifty meters long. But this is one of the oldest places in Moscow. Every house here has a story to tell. This street has seen all famous writers, poets and composers starting from Golden Age of Russian culture.

In XIII-XIV Vozdvizhenka street was the road leading from Moscow Kremlin to Veliky Novgorod. Now this Moscow street hosts the largest library in Russia and the Russian Museum of Architecture.

Vozdvizhenka smoothly changes to Novy Arbat Street (New Arbat), which was laid out in 1963.

In the XIV-XVI centuries the whole area from the Kremlin to the Garden Ring was called Arbat, present Old Arbat. The word “Arbat” is Arabic and it means “the suburbs”. During the Napoleon invasion Arbat burnt to ashes. Now Old Arbat is a pedestrian street of Moscow. Arbat street was first mentioned 540 years ago, and it’s considered one of the oldest streets of Moscow.

  • Theatre Square is the central square of Moscow.
  • Kuznetsky Bridge street is called after the bridge over the river Neglinka in the XV century. In old times it was a large village where lived blacksmiths.
  • Sretenka got its name from the Sretensky Monastery. Street goes to the Sukharev Square.
  • Myasnitskaya Street (Butchers’ street) was settled with butchers in the XVI century.
  • Maroseyka was named after the Malorossiysky farmstead where stayed the guests from Ukraine.
  • Solyanka street (Salty) was the royal Salt yard in XVII-XVIII centuries.
  • Volhonka street was named after famous Prince Volkhonsky. In 1838-1882 at the end of the street was built Christ the Savior Cathedral – a symbol of the great feat of the Russian people in the Patriotic War of 1812. In 1898-1912 was built the present Museum of Fine Arts named after Pushkin. It contains a collection of sculpture, painting, ceramics of different eras and nations.

“THE” streets of Moscow

  • The most beautiful streets are Arbat, Nikolskaya and Kamergersy lane.
  • The biggest area of Moscow is Red Square (75,000 m2).
  • The oldest square is Cathedral Square in Kremlin (XIV c).
  • The widest street in whole Russia is the Leninsky Prospekt in Moscow. Its width varies from 108 to 120 meters.
  • The longest circular street of Moscow is a Moscow Ring Road (MKAD), with the length of 109 kilometers. And the longest straight street is Warsaw highway (21 km long).
  • The shortest street in Moscow is Venetsianov street (48 meters long). The street has only two houses< #3 and #4. This is a relatively young street that was laid out in 1920. The street is called after Venetsianov, a Russian painter.
  • The widest street in Moscow today is Leninsky Prospekt, in some places it reaches 120 metres wide. The grandmother of Tsar Ivan III bought this area in XV century. This Moscow street was a winters of numerous wars. After defeating the Crimeans here was erected the Donskoy Monastery, Neskuchnyi garden (Not Boring garden) and the Sparrow Hills. After a fire in 1812 in Moscow, 75% of homes were destroyed. Pyatnitskaya street preserved only 5 houses, Leninsky Prospekt was luckier, it preserved 300 houses of that time. 
Things to do: Moscow Streets. Kamergersky lane

Things to do: Moscow Streets. Kamergersky lane

What’s the main street in your city and what is it famous for? 

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