In search of Moscow’s ancient architecture

Although Moscow’s skyline is being relentlessly adorned with more modern architecture, the capital has managed to preserve some of its architectural pearls from the distant past. RT took a tour around the city’s oldest buildings.

First mentioned in the Russian chronicles in 1147, Moscow has come a long way from ancient settlement to modern metropolis. Still, having more than eight centuries of history behind it, the city can offer the tourist quite a range of architectural gems dating back to early times.

The Andronikov Monastery in the east of the capital is home to the city’s oldest existing stone structure, the Cathedral of the Savior, or Spassky Sobor.

Completed in 1427, it was one of Moscow’s first stone buildings. Some of its frescoes were created by Russia’s celebrated medieval icon painter Andrey Rublev. Only parts of them have survived but the monastery houses an impressive collection of other works by Rublev in its Museum of Early Russian Art, the place to visit for those interested in Orthodox icons.

If one monastery is home to the capital’s oldest building, another friary can bring us Moscow’s oldest high-rise. Founded in the 14th century, the Simonov Monastery guarded the city’s southern outskirts. It was Muscovites’ favourite place of worship and also home to Moscow’s wealthiest community of priests.

Since it was often visited by the Tsars, in the 17th century, a guest house for royal visitors was constructed and became the city’s tallest building – numerous belfries and watchtowers apart.

A true architectural miracle at the time, it is now one of the few structures left as in January 1930, the Bolsheviks blew most of the monastery up to make way for a club for the workers of a nearby factory.

The house, along with several other buildings survived, while the monastery itself was returned to the church in the 1990s and is being restored.

Leningradsky railway station

Another of Moscow’s firsts is Leningradsky Railway Station, the oldest of Moscow’s nine key railway hubs. Located on Komsomolskaya Square, it serves the north-west, linking Moscow to St. Petersburg.

A pet project of Tsar Nicolas I, it was completed in 1849. Inspired by medieval Italian palaces, the eclectic station was designed by Konstantin Ton, the man behind the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Grand Kremlin Palace.

The railway got its present name in 1937, in honor of Vladimir Lenin, as St. Petersburg in Soviet times became Leningrad. Although the city has now got its original name back, the station has not. So if you want to take a trip to Moscow’s past, steam ahead with its architectural gems.

Leave a comment