Walking on the foreign side of Moscow

Widely known for its architectural variety, Moscow can offer the curious tourist a long list of venues with unusual and fascinating stories behind them. This time RT explores the best foreign-inspired bits of architecture in the Russian capital.

Moscow is obviously very Russian in both its style and its content. Still, if you look carefully, you will find there are actually many areas that pay homage to locations all over the world.

Let us start from New Arbat – one of the city’s busiest, most boisterous and fashionable avenues. Do not hurry to get lost in its numerous pubs and boutiques. First take a look around: if you have ever been in Havana, you may see something familiar – a range of high rises, resembling giant opened books.

The story goes that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was so impressed by several skyscrapers that the Americans built in Havana before the Cuban Revolution, that he wanted to have something similar at home. So the high rises were put up in the 1960s, turning the street into one of the symbols of the Russian capital.

Having enjoyed the Cuban backdrop, why not head west to Kievskaya metro station, which many mistake for a Parisian Metro station. Opened in 2006 it was designed to look like a typical Paris metro entrance as a token of friendship between the two cities.

There is also quite an important Polish legacy in Moscow – Russia’s largest Catholic cathedral, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Malaya Gruzinskaya Street. Completed in 1911, it was built at the request of the city’s Polish community, who also financed its construction. After the Revolution, the cathedral was looted and subsequently closed down. In the 1990s, however, it was restored to its former splendour and returned to the Roman Catholic Church.

An oriental architectural pearl that seems to have come straight from China is another famous Moscow venue. The tea house in Myasnitskaya Street, in the city centre, was built in the late 19th century. It used to be the home and store of a successful tea merchant, Sergey Perlov.

The story goes that Perlov ordered the entire house to be rebuilt in the Chinese style especially to attract the attention of the Chinese ambassador, who was due in Moscow for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. He was hoping to negotiate a lucrative contract for tea delivery. Although Perlov apparently failed to win the ambassador’s favour, the tea house became very popular with Muscovites.

Come over – exploring Moscow’s unusual foreign side is sure to be your cup of tea.

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