From Peter the Great to post-Soviet Russia, take a stroll around German Moscow that sheds light on the turbulent and checkered history between the two countries.
The first landmark tied to Germany in Moscow is the monument called “Eternal Friendship” located right in the city center. The friendship it represents is between Russia and Germany.
The statue was put up in 1989 as a symbolic attempt to ease post-World War II tensions and turn a new page in Russian-German relations, which go back a very long way.
The first German settlers came to Russia as early as the 16th century. At the time, foreigners were so rare in Moscow that any European was called a German.
The German community grew and developed into a settlement dubbed the German Quarter on the banks of Yauza River.
It became a magnet for young Peter I, the future Peter the Great, who dreamed of transforming Russia into a European superpower, and many of the district’s residents became the Tsar’s friends and advisors in the deep-cutting reforms he eventually undertook.
German churches eventually started to appear across the country. St. Peter and Paul Lutheran Cathedral was put up in the 19th century, and became known for its concerts. Closed during Soviet times, it now once again plays a leading part in the capital’s religious and musical life.
The Red October chocolate factory, steps away from the Kremlin, was founded by a German, Theodore Einem, who came to Moscow in 1850 seeking his fortune. Generations of Russians have been raised on chocolates produced by the factory, and in Soviet times Red October was nothing short of an institution.
Several years ago, the much-loved manufacturer relocated from the city center, with the building reinventing itself as home to fancy bars, restaurants and art galleries.
Finally, there is one landmark in Moscow that recalls the much darker pages of Russian-German relations – a piece of the Berlin Wall. After its fall in 1989, a part of the wall was presented to the city’s Sakharov Museum, named after Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist Andrey Sakharov. The fragment is decorated by different artists and stands near the museum building.