The Garden Ring

Red Gate and Church of the Three Holy Hierarchs

The Garden Ring (Sadovoye Koltso) is one of Moskva’s five ring roads, corresponding to the 17th century ramparts around the city’s outer ring, Zamlyanoy Gorod (Earthworks Town). There are seventeen streets and fifteen squares within this 16-kilometer road.

After a 1591 raid by Ğazı II Giray, puppet tsar Boris Godunov ordered the construction of the Skorodom (Quick House). These quickly-built fortifications included a moat and rampart.

During the Smutnoye Vremya (Time of Troubles), Polish forces burnt much of it to the ground. A new fortification, the Earth Rampart (Zemlyanoy Val), was built from 1638–41, and had 34 gates. It mostly served as a customs border.

By the late 18th century, its military value had diminished, and much of the fortress and rampart had collapsed, creating spacious thoroughfares and public squares in their places. The Fire of 1812 destroyed most of what was left.

Sukharev Tower

Since the ramparts served no real purpose anymore, what remained of them were razed instead of rebuilt. The western side was given to the upper-class, who acquired central boulevards flanked by side streets. Pre-existing residents on unused land were allowed to remain if they planted and maintained gardens out of their own pockets.

By the 1850s, many of the buildings on the road were hidden from view by gardens and trees. Travelling around it was indeed like going through a garden.

From the 1830s–60s, Novinskiy Boulevard was full of carousels and cheap theatres, and had a short railroad which functioned as an amusement park ride.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13139 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Electric trams débuted in 1899, and the Garden Ring at large was electrified from 1907–10. Moskva’s tallest building to date, the eight-story Art Nouveau Afremov Building, was unveiled in 1904.

Violent street fights were fought in the wake of the failed 1905 revolution, and the western part of the road was thickly covered by barricades to protect the workers from Imperial troops.

Bloody battles reigned again after the 1917 October Revolution. The Provisional Government’s troops signed their surrender to the Bolsheviks in a building on Sadovaya-Triumfalnaya Street.

Sadly but predictably, many historic buildings were torn down or repurposed under Bolshevik rule. During the 1930s and again after WWII, its architecture underwent a Stalinist remodelling, though no section was entirely redone.

Today, the Garden Ring tells the story of a wide historical and architectural range of styles, from the 1820s till the modern era.

The Garden Ring crosses the Moskva River via Krymskiy Bridge (connecting Krymskiy Val Street and Crimean Square) and Bolshoy Krasnokholmskiy Bridge (connecting Taganka Square and Nizhnyaya Krasnokholmskaya Street). It also crosses the Vodootvodniy Canal via Maliy Krasnokholmskiy Bridge.

Notable sights include Prince Sergey Aleksandrovich Shcherbatov’s house; the State Academic Theatre; Moskva Academic Theatre of Satire; the Church of the Dormition of Theotokos [the Virgin Mary] of Gonchar; the former Hospice House; the Sukharev Tower; Red Gate Building; and many old homes of famous Muscovites.

Old building of the U.S. Embassy, with the house museum of singer Fyodor Ivanovich Chalyapin on the right, Copyright NVO

Copyright NVO

Copyright Mos.ru; Source

Church of the Dormition of Theotokos of Gonchar, Copyright Solundir

Today, city government wants the Garden Ring converted to a one-way, 18-lane street, fully separated from radial street traffic. The common people, however, by and large reject this plan.

Red Gate Building, Copyright NVO

Aquarium Garden, Copyright Vladimir OKC

Krymskiy Bridge, Copyright A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons)

In my first Russian historical and the future second prequel, title characters Lyuba and Ivan, and a number of their friends, live past the Garden Ring, near the Moskva Zoo. Every day on their way to and from school, they see the beautiful buildings and foliage from the tram windows.

In early spring 1920, Lyuba and Ivan also stay by a Garden Ring boarding house run by a Mr. Andropov. A major kink is thrown into their on-again, off-again relationship when they arrive, as antagonist Boris is also there, on an illegal visit from the U.S.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copyright Armineaghayan

Maliy Krasnokholmskiy Bridge, Copyright Kaluga.2012

3 thoughts on “The Garden Ring

  1. Pingback: A to Z Reflections 2018 | Welcome to My Magick Theatre

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