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History of Zamoskvorechye

Zamoskvorechye, a neighbourhood in the centre of Moscow, spans multiple centuries: here one may be just as likely to find 18-th century wooden structures fighting for real estate on the same street as a glittering 21-st century business center or hotel. The contrast is undoubtedly one of these districts charms, as is the collection of churches and museums, without the tourist hordes one could find across the river, indeed, the name of the neighbourhoud means "across the river", literally, on the right or southern bank of the Kremlin.

This area was first settled in the 14th century. In its early days the district was the home to various communities, enclaves and professional quarters. Bolshaya Ordynka Street is a testament to this neighbourhood's Tatar past as "Orda" refers to the Golden Hords. Royal garden attendants and mint workers, tanners, soldiers of the streltsy (armed Russian guard units from the 16th - 18th centuries), as well as court translators all made their homes in the area.

In the time of Peter the Great much of the court was transferred to St. Petersburg and Zamoskvorechye experienced significant depopulation, with the area being resettled by farmers and merchants. Many wealthy businessmen moved in the beginning of the 18-th century (they were particularly concentrated on Pyatnitskaya Street and Ordynka Street) and they made their imprint by building churches, shuch as 1755 Curch of the Saviour on Bolvany.

The area was wracked by floods in the late 1700s and the beginning of 1800s and as a result land here was among the most affordable in Moscow. After the construction of a dam in 1830s the threat was reduced and industry started to settle in. After the reforms of 1861 that led to the freeing of the serfs, the area became a working class stronghold.

One particular building of interest in Zamoskvorechye is the House on the Embankment, and enormous apartment building in downtown that faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side an d Serafimovicha Street on the other. It was built from 1927 - 1931 as a residence for the Soviet Elite. Writer Yuri Trifonov, who lived in the building from 1931 - 1939, wrote an eponymous novel that details the lives of the residents in the complex in 1930s, many of whom were killed during Stalin's purges. During Soviet times it was notable for having separate telephone connection, a laundry and a club for residents. The building currently has 505 apartments and offices, a theatre, a cinema, restaurants, and stores.

Shortly after the Revolution the Bolsheviks closed and looted many of Zamoskvorechye's churches, although 17 managed to survive the wrecking ball. The socialist loved of concrete finally came to the neighbourhood and highrise blocks have started appearing in the last two decades.

Today the contrast of this neighbouhood make it feel like a work in progress. There are comfortable hotels, popular night life options, the art complexes, exhibition halls, a design college and bars, ancient churches, unusual museums and many new and hip restaurants.

In short, if you want to see a mix of what Moscow has to offer in one place - its past, present and future - then head to Zamoskvorechye.