Moscow: A global leader in restoring architectural landmarks

Moscow: A global leader in restoring architectural landmarks
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Denis Grishkin
The share of landmarks restored by private investors has reached 53 percent for the first time.

Moscow has become a global leader in restoring architectural landmarks, Sergei Sobyanin said at a meeting of the Moscow Government Presidium.

“The city conducts large-scale systemic work, involving the owners of buildings, federal government agencies and city authorities. As a result, hundreds of old landmarks have been saved for current and future generations. This ranks among the most ambitious programmes worldwide in terms,of its scale,” Mr Sobyanin noted.

In all, restoration work was carried out on 724 landmarks last year, and 159 of them have already been restored. The share of landmarks restored by private investors has reached 53 percent (85 sites) for the first time. Private investment accounts for 1.5 roubles per rouble of budget funding. The city has financed the restoration of 42 sites, with the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Culture and other federal agencies financing another 32 projects.

Last year, over 28 billion roubles were channeled into restoration projects, which exceeds 2015 volumes by 50 percent, said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage.

“Importantly, not just buildings, but the entire cityscape and old streets are being improved, and artistic-architectural lights are being installed. All this together, of course, is transforming the city,” Mr Sobyanin added.

From 2011–2016, the city restored 773 cultural landmarks, including 384 at municipal expense. In all, 142 facilities were restored at federal expense, with private investors restoring an additional 236.

The number of rundown landmarks had decreased by 5.3 times: from 1,325 in 2010 to 250 in 2016, and their share has fallen from 39 percent to six percent.

Projects completed in 2016

Comprehensive restoration work has been conducted at 45 landmarks last year, and local renovation-restoration work has been completed at 98 sites. In addition, accident prevention measures have been implemented at 16 sites.

The most important sites include:

— The Dresden Hotel on Tverskaya Street;

— Buildings of the Kazansky and Kievsky railway terminals;

— The Central House of Chess Players on Gogolevsky Boulevard, formerly the Y. I. Vasilchikova/N. F. von Mekk family estate; main building with an outbuilding (19th century);

— The campus of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics on Zatsepa Street, formerly the building of the Commercial School for Women with a Church of the Icon of the Seeking of the Lost (1904–1905 and the 1930s);

— Residential Building/Commune (Dormitory of the Instrument Engineering Institute) on 2nd Donskoi Proyezd, 1929;

— The Zimin family mansion on Degtyarny Pereulok, 1896 and 1913–1914;

— The main building of an 18th century estate (Pervomaiskoye community) accommodating the Chinese Cultural Centre;

— The Levenson private printing office building on Tryokhprudny Pereulok, 1900;

— The Khludov family city estate on Malaya Polyanka Street, 18th–20th centuries (under the One Rouble per One Square Metre housing lease programme).

Restoring the historical appearance of the MCC and metro stations

In all, the façades of 92 cultural landmarks have been renovated at 16 stations of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) belt railway, including Kanatchikovo, Belokamennaya, Likhobory, Lefortovo and Ugreshskaya, under a project to improve areas around the MCC.

The city has also finished restoring historical panels at the Kievskaya station of the metro’s Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line, as well as a platform, under a comprehensive restoration project, on the Filyovskaya Line. Work is underway at Sokol, Baumanskaya, Prospekt Mira and some other stations.

Projects under the My Street programme

The façades of 117 historical and cultural landmarks on 59 local streets were renovated last year under the My Street programme.


The National Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) is becoming one of the biggest restoration zones in Moscow. Last year’s preparatory works make it possible to start restoring 23 landmarks, including the Agriculture, HHealthcare, Physics, Space, Central and Rabbit Breeding pavilions, as well as the main and northern entrances.

Restoring religious landmarks

Work is also underway to restore religious landmarks. Since 2012, the city has restored 38 churches and other religious sites, including 19 churches under a programme to subsidise religious organisations.

Last year, the city allocated 296.2 million roubles’ worth of subsidies to religious organisations, with extra-budgetary investment totaling 161.3 million roubles.

The following churches have been restored:

— The Church of St Pachomius (1753–1755) at the Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery on Petrovka Street;

— The Church of St Nicholas at the Hospital Chambers (1652) of the New Monastery of the Saviour (Novospassky);

— Northwestern cells (17th–18th centuries) at the Convent of the Nativity of the Mother of God;

— The Church of Saints Laurus and Florus on Dubininskaya Street (18th century).

The city will restore 21 religious sites throughout 2017.

One Rouble per One Square Metre programme

In 2016, the city leased out 19 rundown historical and cultural landmarks under the One Rouble per One Square Metre programme for a period of 49 years, provided that they are restored by the investors.

Comprehensive restoration of eight buildings is now complete, and work is underway at 11 other sites.

Restoring works of monumental art

The city has focused much attention on renovating and restoring great works of monumental art. In all, 24 such masterpieces and 97 artistic headstones have been restored, and 64 modern sculptures have been renovated, including:

— The monument to Alexander Pushkin on Pushkinskaya Square;

— The monument to Miguel de Cervantes on Leningradskoye Motorway;

— The monument to the defenders of Moscow’s airspace on Osenny Boulevard;

— The monument to the heroes of the Red Army’s Panfilov Division on Geroyev Panfilovtsev Street;

— The obelisk to Saint Pantaleon (Panteleimon) on 2nd Botkinsky Proyezd;

— The monument to Mikhail Kalinin at a public garden on Aviamotornaya Street;

— The Shekhtel family sepulchre in Vagankovskoye Cemetery. 

There are plans to restore 25 works of monumental art, 146 artistic headstones and 94 modern sculptures before the year is out.

Accident prevention measures at cultural landmarks

Accident prevention measures have been implemented at 16 facilities, most of which had not been renovated for over 20 years. The following landmarks have been saved from destruction:

— A complex of buildings of the Mariinskoye School for Women dating to the mid-18th century-early 20th century: the Yeropkin, Zubov and Durasov family estate at 8 and 8 Sofiiskaya Embankment, Bldg.1 and 10 Sofiiskaya Embankment, Bldg.4;

— The home of the Einem Ltd. CEO and the corporate office, built in 1895 in place of a 17th–18th century mansion at 6 Sofiiskaya Embankment, Bldg.1;

— The city estate of the I. T. Rakhmanov, N. L. Bukhvostov and S. S. Sulima families and the Kotov merchant family dating to the first half of the 18th century–mid-19th century (the G. List shareholding company’s Sofiisky Mechanical Plant from the 1870s), including the main building and corporate office at 14 Bolotnaya Square, bldgs.1 and 14; .

— The 18th century Orlov-Denisov House with two lateral wings at 14 Bolshaya Lubyanka Street, Bldg. 3;

— Merchant V. Y. Bykov’s residential tenement building at 19/18 2nd Brestskaya Street, Bldg. 1;

— The 1882 residential tenement building with a tea shop of the D. & A. Rastorguyev Trading House at 7 Solyanka Street, Bldg.1. Physicist/X-ray machine operator Pyotr Lazarev and chemist Sergei Namyotkin lived here in Apartment No. 5;

— The 1905–1912 residential tenement building with V. V. Muratov’s shops at 8 Karetny Ryad Street;

— The 1922 Shukhov Radio Tower at 10 Shukhova Street.

“The Department of Cultural Heritage oversees each of the 250 rundown sites, and its experts have compiled a road map for all of them. Naturally, the department prioritised work with rundown sites throughout 2016,” Mr Yemelyanov said.

The city now owns just 60 rundown sites, with private investors owning the rest.

Archaeological projects

Over 7,000 artifacts were unearthed during efforts to improve city streets and parks.

The Department of Cultural Heritage initiated the creation of a special section on the Open Data website, including a map that shows the location of important artifacts, their description, photos and the time when they were found.

The Mayor of Moscow has decided to establish an open museum space inside an underpass near Moskvoretskaya Embankment at Zaryadye Park. Visitors here will see 16th century brickwork of a Kitai-Gorod wall, 17th century wooden Zaryadye roadways and artifacts unearthed during the park’s construction, including a tree-bark letter dating to the 15th–16th centuries, a treasure chest containing 15th–17th century coins and more.

A section of a Bely Gorod (White City) wall, unearthed in 2007–2008 on Khokhlovskaya Square, is now being turned into a museum. This project is scheduled to be completed before the year is out. In 2018, city residents and tourists will be able to enjoy an archaeological guided tour at Mitino landscape park.

Accessing cultural landmarks

In 2016, the city organised 501 guided tours, cultural and educational events and interactive games that involved over 11,600 people. For example, over 4,300 people were able to visit the buildings of foreign diplomatic missions.

The city also hosted the traditional Days of Moscow’s Historical and Cultural Heritage, timed to coincide with the International Day for Monuments and Sites (18 April) and International Museum Day (18 May).

Plans for 2017 call for restoring 768 landmarks, including 233 sites due to be restored at city expense. Another 114 sites will be restored at federal expense, with investors working at 431 more.

This year, the city will focus on VDNKh landmarks, metro stations, a former residential building for employees of the People’s Commissariat (Ministry) of Finance on Novinsky Boulevard, the Polytechnic Museum building and the building of the former Kolizei cinema, now the main building of the Sovremennik Theatre.