Mayor Sobyanin: Barely a few years but city parks double in number

Mayor Sobyanin: Barely a few years but city parks double in number
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Denis Grishkin
In the Mikhalkovo estate, two historical viewing tower-rotundas have been restored near the Bolshoi Golovinsky Pond, duck houses have been built on the Maly Golovinsky Pond and pedestrian bridges reconstructed.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin opened the Mikhalkovo estate park after its reconstruction. The park is situated in the Golovinsky district along Mikhalkovskaya Street between Narvskaya and Onezhskaya Streets. It has five ponds: Nizhny and Verkhny Mikhalkovsky, Bolshoi, Maly and Verkhny Golovinsky.

“It is a magnificently beautiful spot,” the mayor said at a meeting with local residents. “The Mikhalkovo historical estate is an architectural treasure. Unfortunately, it was abandoned for rather a long time, however, many people asked us to put things in order. We prepared a project, discussed it with you, held a vote, and it seems to have worked out quite nicely.”

He also said that Moscow parks had doubled in number in the past few years. “We will continue to build and rebuild our parks,” the mayor said. “Incidentally, we are planning to develop another public park project in one of the districts,” said the mayor. “There is also a regular yard redevelopment programme because courtyards that we rebuilt, for instance, in 2011 are getting a bit old, they need to be tidied up again and rebuilt on a new level. This is non-stop routine maintenance, which is included in our plans.”

Estate history

Mikhalkovo was first mentioned in historical documents between 1585 and 1586. From 1680 to1769, the village was the home of the Dashkov family. According to the 1768 general land survey, it was a medium-sized estate with the landlord’s wooden house, outbuildings, a regular garden plus a large pond. The area was surrounded by a moat and an earthen rampart that have partly survived up to this very day.

In the 1780s, when Pyotr Panin was the landlord, architect Vasily Bazhenov designed a Mikhalkovo estate ensemble for construction. The project included the master’s house at the back of the front yard along the line of the central gate, as well as four red-brick outbuildings. There was a parterre garden behind the house, and an extensive landscape park with ponds on the bank of the enlarged Golovinsky brook. The centerpiece of the architectural ensemble was the red-brick fence with outbuildings and towers reaching over 2m in height. It was decorated with half-columns with white-stone caps and a row of kokoshniks (Russian semi-circular decorative elements) at the top.

The small park rotundas were built in a regular English style, with half-columns and spires. The rotundas were placed on both sides of the cascade ponds that were created by damming up the Golovinsky Pond and linking it to the Dashkovs’ utility ponds. The large estate rotunda (a circular pavilion) developed into a family gallery with marble busts of the Panin family members standing on mahogany pedestals.

In the late 18th-early 19th centuries, a weaving factory started functioning inside the estate. The wooden landlord’s house was demolished. After changing a few owners, the factory gradually became the property of the Jokisch family. The new landlords took good care of the estate, financed its restoration, and made sure the weaving workshops were never placed inside the estate premises. Special units were built outside the park as well as Bazhenov’s ensemble.

In 1871, a two-storey brick house for the Jokisch family was built according to a    project by architect Alexander Kaminsky. The eclectic-style building blended in well with the whole architectural ensemble. In the 1900s, architect Dmitry Sukhov led a project to build industrial units, workers’ barracks and  an office. In 1916, the weaving factory employed 1,500 workers.

In 1919, the factory was nationalized, and used for the textile industry after 1933. The authorities built a local children’s park here and used one of the outbuildings as the park’s administration office.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), the oak park was chopped down, and the area was used for kitchen-gardens. The rising water level in the ponds killed off the surrounding trees and began to wash away the foundations of the nearby buildings. In the 1960s, Mikhalkovo became part of Moscow, and industrial and residential building projects were launched here around the master’s house as well as all over the estate.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, Mikhalkovo and the area around the Golovinskye Ponds were redeveloped, and in 1979 the estate became a government-protected site.

Cultural heritage site  

At present, the Mikhalkovo estate park is a regional cultural heritage site (a masterpiece of landscape architecture and gardening masterpiece). The historic estate ensemble is in a good technical condition and has the status of a federal cultural heritage site. It comprises the following buildings: “two annexes and a fenced outbuilding within the annex area,” “two annexes and an outbuilding within the ‘fenced outbuilding,’” “west-side services units, 1773-1776, 1840,” “the front yard six Tower towers,” “two viewing rotunda-towers in the Tower-Rotunda park.” The Wilhelm Jokisch house is also a regional architectural site.

After the 1970s, the estate was abandoned for a long time. Over this period of time, the ponds got clogged up and covered with weeds, the drains became blocked, which washed away the slopes and caused soil slumping.

Sports grounds, cycling routes and bird houses

In 2015, the 3.2 hectares of the park territory was rebuilt, the alleyways resurfaced, the lawns restored, ugly groups of trees were done away with , 79 lamp posts, 18 benches, 18 dustbins and seven flower pots were put in place. Access for transport into the Mikhalkov estate has also been improved thanks to the opening of Koptevo station on the new Moscow Central Circle in 2016.

In 2017, the Moscow government implemented an overall redevelopment project of the Mikhalkovo Park that was approved by 79.6 percent of the 196,000 Moscow residents who took part in the Active Citizen online vote.

The building work lasted from July to October, and covered an area of 42.3 hectares, with 17.4 hectares of the ponds’ water surface. The ponds’ banks were reinforced, the Verkhny and Nizhny Mikhalkovsky Ponds were dredged, two historical viewing tower-rotundas near the Bolshoi Golovinsky Pond were restored. New duck houses were put in place on the Maly Golovinsky Pond, plus  pedestrian bridges were rebuilt.

Now the park has five sports sections, including a volley-ball and a badminton court, together with three playgrounds. There is also a 3.5-km long cycling route, the pedestrian alleys surrounded with new lawns and flowerbeds have been partially tiled. For visitors’ convenience and safety, there are 421 lamp posts, 80 CCTV cameras, 459 architectural ornaments, navigation stands and three WCs.

Between October-November this year, 239 trees will be planted in the park to include oaks, maples, apple-trees, birch-trees, lime-trees, willows, hawthorns and 3,600 varieties of shrubs.

Over 50 new parks

In 2017, Moscow authorities supervised projects to redevelop 129 green zones, including the building of 56 new parks such as Zaryadye, which opened in September, 21 city parks with five of them rebuilt from scratch, 50 new local parks, 42 landmark sites (boulevards, mini-parks, leafy squares popular with locals), and 15 recreation zones in specially protected nature areas.