Walking in Moscow: Rozhdestvenka City


The prototype of today’s Rozhdestvenka was the road that connected the Rozhdestvensky convent to the Kremlin: the latter was placed on Kremlin soil and later transported to land on the banks of the Neglinka River. In the 15th century, the east side of the road was built, while the west side was handed over to the gardens of the monastery. At the end of the century the Cannon Yard was founded between Rozhdestvenka and the Neglinnaya and soon a settlement of blacksmiths and grooms of the Cannon Yard was formed.

cannon yard, surrounded by a stone wall, It was built in the time of Ivan III, inside there were warehouses of raw materials, forges, a well and scales for weighing metals, and in the middle there was a tower – an anbar foundry, where cannons and bells were cast. The production of weapons was a matter of strategic importance, so it is almost impossible to find a detailed description of the yard in the records of foreign travelers.

In 1501-1505 the Stone Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos was built in the Monastery of the Nativity. The church of Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos was built later, in 1677, and the bell tower was completely erected in the 19th century. To the north of the blacksmiths’ settlement, bell-ringers and guards of the Kremlin cathedrals settled.

As was customary in those days, the settlement had its own church of St. Nicholas Vozedomsky or, as people called it, the church of St. Nicholas in Zvonari.

A little further from the settlement of the bells, the “wretched” monastery Varsonofevsky emerged – with it there was a cemetery for the poor and needy. Interestingly, at the time of the troubles, under the false Dmitry I, the ashes of his political opponent, Tsar Boris Godunov, were transported there from the Kremlin Archangel Cathedral.

Church of Agios Nikolaos the Miracle Worker in Zvonari, 1883

In the 17th century, present-day Rozhdestvenka and its environs began to be inhabited not only by blacksmiths, bell-ringers and hard-working people, but also by the aristocracy: Princes Kozlovsky and Gagarin settled between Pusheetsaya and Kuz Streets. and there was also a vast courtyard of the bishop of Suzdal.

By the 1970s, wooden buildings were added to the courtyard of the Cannon Yard, where the Pushkar Order was moved from the Kremlin. The buildings closed the exit from Rozhdestvenka to the present-day Teatralny Pass and the road began to go to Lubyanka Square. At the same time, Prince AI Lobanov-Rostovsky’s belongings appeared on the street.

In the mid-18th century, Count Vorontsov became the owner of the largest estate in Rozdestvenka: he bought more than 40 yards between Kuznetsky Most and Sandunovsky Lane. Wooden buildings and a fence with gates overlooked Rozdestvenka, in the depths of the courtyard stood the stone rooms of the count, behind them began a “normal” garden with a neat layout, shaped with the latest fashion in the spirit of the gardens of Versailles, with lake gazebos and views of the Neglinnaya River.

In the late 1970s, Count Vorontsov commissioned architect Kazakov to design new cabins and restructure wooden outbuildings – supposedly made of stone.

Ο Γ.Κ. Prenner. Portrait of Ivan Vorontsov, 1750s

Count Vorontsov allocated money for the construction of a new building of the Church of St. Nicholas in Zvonari. The style chosen was luxurious – baroque. The building was designed by architect Blank, who lived not far from the earl, at the corner of the Rozhdestvenka and Varsonofevsky strip.

In the late 18th century, the plan of the street changed: the buildings of the Pushkar Order were demolished and Rozhdestvenka began to reach the walls of Kitay-gorod. In 1803, the Cannon Yard disappeared – and the land up to the Neglinnaya River was liberated. In the 1820s, evacuated lands were handed over to residential areas, where low-rise buildings appeared.



In the early 19th century, Count Vorontsov’s courtyard passed to the wealthy noble Beketova, but as early as 1808 part of her house was moved to the treasury – and the Academy of Medicine and Surgery occupied the three-story building. On both sides of the main building there were stone auxiliary buildings where teachers and students of the academy lived.

During the Patriotic War of 1812, the Zvonar courtyards were burned. Closer to the 1820s, when reconstruction of the city began, the courtyards were rebuilt and the Zvonarsky Lane was placed from Neglinnaya to Rozhdestvenka. In 1835, under the guidance of architect NI Kozlowski, the bell tower of the Monastery of the Nativity was built on the street. The Academy of Medicine and Surgery moved to St. Petersburg in the middle of the century, when the building was moved to the clinic of Moscow University. After 30 years, the building was evacuated again – and occupied by the Stroganov School of Industrial Art. There, not only artists received specialization, but also design teachers, artists for textiles and other factories.

At the turn of the 19th-20th century, banks and restaurants opened between Teatralny Proyezd and Kuznetsky Most, large hotel houses appeared.

Stroganov School of Industrial Art. Photo: wikimedia

In Soviet times, the road was waiting for change. In 1948 it was renamed Zhdanov Street, in memory of the leader of the Communist Party AA Zdanov. In the 1950s, the buildings in the Lubyanka passage were partially demolished and the building of the current Central Children’s Store was built on the empty site. The author of the project was the architect AN O Duskin. The building turned out to be monumental, especially against the backdrop of the low houses in the depths of Rozhdestvenka.

According to the general plan for the reconstruction of Moscow, Rozhdestvenka was to become part of the highway from Ostankino Park to Kotlov. The road was not built, so Rozhdestvenka has retained the appearance of a Moscow street.


Photo: wikimedia

Monastery of the Nativity

The address: st. Rozhdestvenka, 20/8, building 17

The Monastery of the Nativity occupies the land from the Bolshoy Kiselny strip to Rozhdestvensky Avenue. Today it is a whole ensemble: the central cathedral, the church of St. John Chrysostom, the bell tower and the church of the icon of Kazan the Virgin with a dining room.

In the 14th century, the monastery on the territory of the Kremlin was founded by Princess Maria Konstantinovna. In 1389, she took the veil here as a nun before her death under the name Martha. It is believed that the building was erected with the support of Dmitry Donskoy.

In 1547 there was a great fire in Moscow. The monastery was badly damaged, but at the behest of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, they quickly began to restore it. In the period from 1676 to 1678, a stone church was erected in the area in the name of St. John Chrysostom, a dining room and many aisles in the name of St. Nicholas the Pleasant, Demetrius of Rostov and Philaret of Eleimon. Funds for the construction were provided by Princess Lobanova-Rostovskaya. At the same time, a stone fence with four turrets was built around the monastery.

During the Patriotic War of 1812, the monastery was saved from fire and looting. In the period from 1835 to 1836 a bell tower with a church was built above the Holy Gates of the monastery. The project was proposed by architect Nikolai Ilyich Kozlovsky and the funds were provided by SI Sterich.


Photo: hotel website

Hotel Savoy

The address: st. Rozhdestvenka, 3/6, building 1

At the end of the 19th century, the German restaurant Alpenrose opened on the hotel site, at home at 4 Pushechnaya Street. it was owned by the merchant Heinrich Hermes. Members of the German club, located near the corner of Pushechnaya and Rozhdestvenka, gathered in the halls. Vladimir Gilyarovsky, a journalist and expert in Moscow, wrote about the restaurant as follows:

“The entrance to the restaurant was simple: a carpeted staircase, furnished with tropical plants, under the porters, mostly Germans from Moscow, came here for breakfast from their offices.”

Artists from the Bolshoi and Mali theaters often gathered at the Alpenrose for performances. They occupied two small offices.

“In one of them the singer AI Bartsal was represented, and in another – a writer, theater historian VA Mikhailovsky…” wrote Giliarovsky.

In 1909, the Salamander insurance company bought the restaurant and opened a hotel in the building with a café on the ground floor. It was called “Savoy”, perhaps in analogy to Savoy – a place in the French Alps.

Savoy restaurant hall, 1930s

In 1911, it was decided to rebuild the hotel building, Viktor Andreevich Velichkin became the architect. The interiors of the cafe were designed by the artist AA. Tomashki – and the room turned out to be Rococo style. The first guests settled in Savoy in March 1913: the opening of the hotel coincided with the opening of the renovated restaurant.

With the advent of Soviet rule, Savoy continued to receive visitors. Either it was part of the Moscow Hotel Management under the Moscow City Council, and then, together with Metropol and National, it was part of the All-Union Joint-Stock Company Hotel (Intourist). In 1958, the hotel was renamed “Berlin”, and in 1989 the building was renovated and returned to its former name “Savoy”.


Photo: wikimedia

Tretyakov Profitable House with Lyon Credit Bank

The address: st. Kuznetsky Most, 13/9, building 1

On the corner of Rozhdestvenka and Kuznetsky Most is the Tretyakovs apartment building. In the 18th century, there were stone shops located by Count Vorontsov in this place. They were replaced by the first Parisian fashion stores: either they traded with the French, or they sold products from France. In the second half of the 19th century, the Tretyakov brothers bought the site: in those days, the nobles became poor, but the merchants, on the contrary, made capital.

In 1889 the construction of a new building began under the direction of the architect Kaminsky. He was the Tretyakov’s favorite architect and relative: Alexander Stepanovich Kaminsky was married to Sergei Mikhailovich Tretyakov’s daughter.

Kaminsky built a three-story Russian-style tower house. The building has not yet been handed over and part of it has already been rented by Lyon Credit Bank. Then, during the construction process, cellars for safes were equipped. The interiors were luxuriously decorated: the floors were paved with mosaics of marble pieces, the staircase was elegant with marble railings and rich wallpapers were hung on the walls.

Part of the building was occupied by the Datsiaro store. The company has been present in Moscow since the 1830s, its founder was the Italian merchant Giuseppe Datsiaro, owner of lithographic workshops in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Paris. The company became famous for publishing high quality printed products. In Soviet times, the building was nationalized. The apartment building was later occupied by the People’s Justice Committee, the RSFSR Prosecutor’s Office.

Leave a Comment