With its 12 millions of inhabitants, Moscow is one of the busiest cities in the world and certainly the biggest capital of all Eastern Europe. But at the same time its scale and vast territory allows Muscovites to enjoy immense green parks like Vorobyovy Gory, Izmailovo, Kolomenskoye and many more. Even if you are not fancying a trip to uptown districts, where locals live and enjoy their outdoor activities, there are many park areas downtown, that will allow you to raise your blood oxygen level hundredfold. We promise that you will forget being in the very hustle and bustle of the Russian capital while you are here.
During Ivan the Terrible’s rule this place had witnessed an execution of 120 boyars. Back then it was called Pogany Ponds which literally means “unclean”. The origins of such a name lay in the fact that there were butcheries nearby. All Moscow used to come on Myasnitskaya street (the name literally means “meaty”) to shop for the best meat. The waste from slaughterhouses was thrown right into the pond. The Count Menshikov lived nearby and, obviously, he did not like this fact, so he had the ponds cleaned. Since that time the name “unclean” disappeared and the place started to be called Clean Ponds instead.
In 1911 it became a venue for exercise of world champions in figure skating. By 1960 the area had been renovated and improved, including opening of a boat station. Now, it’s a place for a winter fairy tale skating and summer hangouts of young Muscovites. Here you can take a tram ride on the historic route “Annushka” (route “A” that was opened in 1911 and now remains the only tram route inside the Garden Ring), enjoy an outdoor photo exhibition or rent a paddle boat.
This is a quiet little park with picturesque landscapes. In winter you may ski around Bolshoy Ekaterininsky Pond and rent a paddle boat in summer. In Ekaterininsky Park you may find a pavilion which was visited by Catherine II. Now it became frequented by wedding parties who love taking pictures here. In the park you may also find numerous places for workouts and outdoor activities and rent sports equipment like bike or rollers. From the park you can easily walk to Olympic Stadium, Gulag History Museum, the Dostoevsky Apartment Museum or the Cathedral Mosque.
Originally owned by an actor Lentovsky, it was left to decay at the end of the 19th century. The modern Hermitage garden stands where the old mansion used to be located, when in July 1894 the property was taken over by merchant Schukin, who turned an abandoned sandlot into a paradise garden. The reconstructed theater of the Garden hosted the first cinema shows of the capital. On its stage Sarah Bernard used to perform, Fedor Shalyapin had his debut and the Moscow Art Theatre was launched.
Over time, the garden has had several renovations including construction a summer concert hall, opening of a summer cinema and restoration of many historical buildings. For more than 115 years the Hermitage Garden has been a place where modern cultural life of the capital flows with a whole range of entertainment including cafes and restaurants, playgrounds, cinemas and summer stage. Nowadays it hosts numerous festivals in summer, and in winter it is traditionally turned into a romantic skating rink.
If you are having a walk from the Red Square up on Tverskaya street, at the end of it there is a gift waiting for you, which promises some rest and fresh air. Tverskoy Boulevard took its name from the street and it has quite a lot to offer a visitor of the capital.
On the boulevard you can rest in the shade of the oldest of Moscow’s oak trees: it is at least 230 years old. On hot summer days you will enjoy the refreshing air around its fountain. The surrounding area used to be inhabited by outstanding writers, who were inspired by the place. This was the first Moscow boulevard and it was frequented by nobility who had their mansions built in the vicinity. In 1812 the boulevard became the encampment for French troops, who hacked out all the old trees, even before Moscow was set on fire. Meanwhile the historical mansions were destroyed in that very fire.
By the end of the 19th century this originally classical district acquired its modern look, created in accordance with Art-Nouveau style. In Soviet Union times Tverskoy Boulevard got even greener and more welcoming with the installation of benches, monuments and flower beds.
Today the boulevard attracts strollers by numerous city festivals and open air exhibitions. And of course, by a promised opportunity to rest in its shade and coolness.
It is the perfect place for romantic walks in any season and particularly for ice-skating in winter. The rink is a huge pond itself! The place is not just very atmospheric but also very mysterious. If you read Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, you should remember how ill fated Mikhail Berlioz and Ivan Bezdomny met here Woland, Lucifer in the flesh. Near the Patriarch Ponds once lived the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, as well as legendary Soviet actress and singer Lyudmila Gurchenko.
In the middle Ages this area was called the Goat Swamps and was not inhabited. The modern name originates from the 17th century when the lands belonged to the Patriarch Joachim. Only in the early 20th century the area of Patriarchal ponds started to become inhabited due to big Soviet development and growth of Moscow. Since 1924 Patriarch Ponds were officially renamed Pioneer as the struggle between Soviet authorities and the church took flight. Nevertheless, people kept calling it by original name.
Today the place is popular among young Muscovites not only due to its literature mystical heritage, but also thanks to numerous restaurants, bars and coffee shops that blossomed in a vicinity. Have an Insta-worthy breakfst at Scramble Eggs & Waffle by Friends Forever Group, have Russian lunch in a cosy MariVanna, and head to Saxon and Parole for substantial dinner.