Thousands of football fans are flocking to Moscow to see 2018 FIFA World Cup matches. During their spare time between the sport “battles” in Luzhniki and Spartak stadiums, football supporters have the opportunity to admire the capital city’s famous sights, including the Kremlin, Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre, GUM department store and the State History Museum. In all, the city has about 8,000 cultural heritage sites, and seeing all of them could be a challenge, even during a month’s stay. Hundreds of these get renovated every year, including about 500 currently under restoration.
Alexei Yemelyanov, head of Moscow’s Cultural Heritage Department, pointed out during the news conference, Historical Sites Welcome 2018 World Cup Guests, which venues in particular have recently reopened in Moscow after renovation.
“There is an understanding that a city’s balanced development should rest on respect for its history,” he said. “Cultural heritage sites and their preservation is what shapes a city’s identity. However, we attach great importance to other, more demanding aspects such as the city’s comfort. It is our goal to make it tailored for people’s needs.”
Eleven key stations of the Moscow Metro have been recently refurbished, including Krasnopresnenskaya, Paveletskaya and Taganskaya on the Circle Line, Avtozavodskaya and Kurskaya on both the Circle and Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya lines,Teatralnaya, Dobryninskaya, Alekseyevskaya, Biblioteka Imeni Lenina and Rizhskaya stations.
Yemelyanov said the renovation covered the historical facades of the station entrances, exits and underpasses. Walls have been cleaned and re-plastered, rooftops repaired, and architectural lighting replaced.
Front entrance to Gorky Park
Restoration of the two circumference wings on the sides of Gorky Park’s main entrance, which used to accommodate ticket offices, has been completed. Specialists have rebuilt the facades and interiors, with six of the 42 ticket windows remaining open with the Ticket Office (Kassa) signs above them. The entrance arch was renovated in 2015, to improve the propylaeum (the front entrance made of portico and colonnades) and the cartouche, engineering and construction works, and add new illumination.
The central entry ensemble of Gorky Park (the arch, the circumferences, the wrought-iron fence with cast-iron decorative elements and two lamp posts) designed by architects Yuri Shchyuko and Assen Spasov and built in 1955, was declared a cultural heritage site in 2009.
200 years old birch tree grove: Ostafyevo Estate re-opened
Ostafyevo Estate has also reopened after restoration. The project involved renovating its galleries, the belvedere above the main entrance, which returned a regal look to the architectural ensemble. The works also included renovation of the architectural décor of the interiors on the ground and first floors, along with smaller columns in the bedroom and the sitting room. Artistic parquet and tiled stoves have been refurbished in the ceremonial chambers.
The Oval Hall has acquired back its original interior: it once again has six doorframes, which were previously transformed into windows. The 200-year-old birch tree grove, or Karamzin’s Grove, is now being refurbished based on the 19th century archive documents.
Good as new: Pushkin’s Monument reopened
Last year restoration of the famous Pushkin’s Monument was completed, and now the green patina is being adapted to the rough surrounding urban environment. It took specialists more than a year to recover the historical image of the monument as well as to reinforce the pedestal and the sculpture itself. They have scrubbed away dirt and pollution and removed surface plastering that was used to cover up uneven areas and metal defects.
The monument was first unveiled in 1880 on the poet’s birthday anniversary, 6th June. It was erected at the beginning of Tverskoi Boulevard on Strastnaya Square (now Pushkinskaya Square) but was later moved to the opposite side of the square in 1950.
Time machine at VDNKh
The redevelopment of VDNKh’s Central Alley is nearing completion. It includes historical restoration of the pavilions, the flower beds on the Central Alley and the Golden Colossus fountain. Children born in the 21st century can now take walks in practically the same exhibition park as the one remembered by their grandparents.
In April, the Kosmos Pavilion accommodating the Space and Aviation Centre reopened after its restoration. Its original Kremlin star-shaped lamp, which was restored from archive sketches, was placed back under the pavilion’s dome. The lamp is made of black metal, with elements of ruby coloured glass, yellow metal sheets and leaf-gold, and uses powerful LED lights.
Zaryadye Park area
New Zaryadye Park at the very heart of the city opened in 2017. “The park has all chances of becoming a cultural heritage site in 40 years,” said Alexei Yemelyanov.
All the historical venues around the park have remained untouched. Specialists have renovated the 15th century St Anna’s Conception Church at the Corner and also the 16th century Kitai-Gorod Wall. In the Zaryadye area today one can trace 600 years of Moscow’s history.
During the construction works, archaeologists discovered a 14th century birchbark letter, the fourth found in Moscow (Moskva-4). The city’s soil is tough on birchbark, making these type of discoveries extremely rare (the first birchbark letter was found in 1988). Excavations during the construction works in Zaryadye also uncovered over 3,000 antique objects of everyday use.
Constructivism: Narkomfin Building and its historical image
Renovation works are continuing at the Narkomfin House, the building, which was designed by Moisey Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis and built from 1928 to 1932. Fundamental maintenance works have been completed, the roofs of the residential and communal buildings sealed and the wall partitions installed in later periods removed. Ventilation systems are being installed and the basement is being refurbished.
The main goal in this restoration project is to retrieve the building’s original exterior and re-adjust the building for present-day residential use. The deadline is due in two years.
From foundation pit into outdoor museum
Excavations as part of the construction works often reveal items of historical value. Experts examine and clean items they find and then hand them over to the city’s museums. About 30,000 artefacts have been discovered in the past seven years. For example, ancient lead trade seals, a yellow metal trade token, a belt pendant and leather sheath were found near Maly and Bolshoy Zlatoustinsky pereuloks (lanes) next to the former Chrysostom Monastery.
Construction sites can sometimes be described as an outdoor archaeological museum. For instance, a former foundation pit in Khokhlovskaya Square has been opened to the public as an outdoor amphitheatre museum featuring a section of the 16th century fortress wall of Bely Gorod (White Town).