Patriarch’s Pond

Copyright A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace)

Patriarch’s Pond (Patriarshiye Prudy, whose name truly translates to Patriarch’s Ponds), colloquially known as Patriki, is a wealthy downtown area of Moskva’s Presnenskiy (Presnya) District. It takes its name from the beautiful pond. There used to be three ponds (as evidenced by the name), but now there’s only one.

The current pond is 107,000 square feet (9,900 square meters), and six and a half feet (two meters) deep.

Copyright Табуретка (Taburyetka)

Copyright A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace)

The pond in turn takes its name from Patriarch Germogen (served 1606–12, at the end of the Smutnoye Vremya, Time of Troubles). Before this area became his residence, it was the Goat Marsh. Unsurprisingly, goats were bred nearby. Their wool went to the Imperial Court.

In 1683, Patriarch Yakim ordered the swamps replaced with three fish ponds. In the pond formed from the Presnya River, expensive fish for the Patriarch’s table were bred, while cheap fish were in the ponds from the Goat Marsh.

The ponds were abandoned during the Synodal period of 1700–1917, during which the election of a new Patriarch was forbidden.

Copyright Ksu25

The ponds took on their current form and were refurbished during 1830–31, during the massive rebuilding efforts necessitated by the devastating Fire of 1812. The gutted wooden buildings around the pond were replaced by stone.

Every winter since 1900, the Russian Gymnastic Society turns the frozen pond into a skating rink. At night, 16 floodlights illuminate it and project images of snowflakes and flowers onto the ice.

Copyright karel291

The pond was hurt again by the 1897 flood, and city officials considered abandoning it. Though it cost a lot of money to clean, the pond was saved and filled with fresh water.

In the early 20th century, cheap real estate sprung up around the pond, occupied by university students. During the failed 1905 revolution, it was occupied by left-wing student militia, and turned into a warzone.

Moskva’s first children’s hospital, Filatov, was also initially located here.

Copyright Elisa.rolle

Under Soviet rule, the beautiful apartments occupied by the wealthy were turned into communal apartments. The pond was also renamed Pioneer Ponds, though the new name never caught on. In 1992, the real name was officially restored.

Landmarks include the Gavriil Tarasov mansion; the House with Lions (the home of Red Army Marshals); a monument to fabulist Ivan Andreyevich Krylov (surrounded by twelve of his characters); and a stone pavilion.

House of Lions, Copyright NVO

Patriarch’s Pond famously features in the opening chapter of Mikhail Afanasiyevich Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Bulgakov and his wife lived there in the 1930s, and today there’s a monument to him.

My characters Lyuba Zhukova and Ivan Konev skip gymnasium (high school) and spend the day by Patriarch’s Pond in April 1917, during their clandestine, month-long romance which forms the first “on” period of their on-again, off-again relationship.

Ivan dreamily tells her about the great life they’re going to have in America, and he shows off his rudimentary English. They also buy sweets from a vendor. In the unnaturally warm weather, they see a swan and her cignets, and compare themselves to swans mating for life.

The cover of my first Russian historical shows them by the banks of the pond. Initially, I wanted it to specifically show Ivan writing the English alphabet in the dirt.

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Novodevichye Cemetery and Nansen passports

Copyright Ghirlandajo

Novodevichye Cemetery is the most famous of all Muscovite cemeteries (not to be confused with St. Petersburg’s Novedevichye Cemetery). It’s next to the 16th century Novodevichye Convent, Moskva’s third-biggest tourist draw.

Prolific architect and preservationist Ivan Pavlovich Mashkov designed the cemetery in 1898, though it was only in the 1930s that it truly rose to prominence. Under Stalin, the necropoleis of Medieval Muscovite monasteries were scheduled for destruction, and the remains were moved to Novodevichye.

Many other famous Muscovites were also moved from different abbeys for reburial in Novodevichye.

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, whom I have very mixed feelings about, but whom I ultimately feel was a decent person who started out trying to do the right thing. Copyright A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace)

Also in the 1930s, a 19th century necropolis within the walls of the convent underwent reconstruction. Almost all the graves were destroyed, including those of 2,000 nobles and professors. Another former resident of the necropolis, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (my third-fave writer), was moved into the cemetery.

Chekhov’s grave became the genesis of the Cherry Orchard section, where legendary actor Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavskiy and the leading actors of his company were buried.

Chekhov’s grave, Copyright Tatiana gothic

Nikolay Vasiliyevich Gogol, Copyright Petar Milošević at sr.wikipedia

In the USSR, burial in Novodevichye was second in prestige to that of the Kreml Wall Necropolis. Countless writers, artists, musicians, scientists, military people, athletes, cosmonauts, actors, directors, mathematicians, composers, and politicians were buried there.

Today, more than 27,000 souls rest in Novodevichye, and there’s little room left for future burials.

View of the monastery from the cemetery, Copyright giomodica; Source

Cemetery entrance

The cemetery is grouped into Old, New, and Newest sections, with maps available in the office. The grounds are arranged like a quiet, peaceful park, dotted with little chapels and large sculpted monuments.

A number of prominent sculptors’ work is on display at Novodevichye.

Nadezhda Sergeyevna Alliluyeva, Stalin’s second wife, Copyright Petar Milošević at sr.wikipedia

Other famous people buried here include writers Sergey Aksakov, Ilya Ehrenburg, Velimir Khlebnikov, Aleksey Tolstoy, Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Mayakovskiy, Aleksandr Tvardovskiy, and Andrey Beliy; Nikita Khrushchëv; film director Sergey Eisenstein; singer Fyodor Shalyapin (called Chaliapin in the West); cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; and psychologist Lev Vygotskiy.

Copyright Bogdanov-62

Copyright Hello-Andrew

Copyright Stasa16

Copyright Hello-Andrew

My characters the Lebedev(a)s live very close to Novodevichye Cemetery after they move from Pskov to Moskva around 1905. This once-envied location becomes particular torture to Mr. Lebedev after he escapes from prison and returns to his house during the Civil War.

He has no choice but to stay hidden in the house (protected by a phony smallpox quarantine sign), and can no longer regularly visit Chekhov’s grave to pay his respects. Mr. Lebedev loves literature.

City Hall, Oslo, Copyright Ivan Vasilev

Nansen passports were the brainchild of Fridtjof Nansen, High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. They began being issued after the 3–5 July 1922 Intergovernmental Conference on Identity Certificates for Russian Refugees, held in Geneva.

Originally intended for refugees of the Russian Civil War (of whom about 800,000 became stateless in 1921), they were extended to Armenians, Assyrians, and Turks in 1933.

Though they stopped being issued in 1938, they were still honored by 52 countries.

Copyright Huddyhuddy

About 450,000 were issued to people who needed travel documents but weren’t able to obtain them from their home countries.

The Nansen International Office for Refugees earned the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize.

Famous holders include Vladimir Nabokov, Marc Chagall, Igor Stravinskiy, Sergey Rakhmaninov, ballerina Anna Pavlova, Aristotle Onassis, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the seventh and last Lubavitcher Rebbe).

My character Arkasha Orlov issues Nansen passports to Mrs. Brezhneva’s Kyiv orphanage during its partial relocation to Isfahan, Iran in June 1937, during a brief stop in Aden. Arkasha, who works for the British Consulate in Isfahan, is on Aden on business.

Inna Zhirinovskaya, a former orphanage girl who’s now Mrs. Brezhneva’s assistant, catches Arkasha’s eye, and he openly begins flirting with her while filling out the particulars on her Nansen passport.

 

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

Arbat Street

My WeWriWa post is here.

This year, my theme for the A to Z Challenge is things, places, and people from my Russian historicals. Beyond Russia and NYC, locales include Ukraine, Belarus, Iran, Canada, France, China, and Poland.

Arbat Street is a historic street in the storied center of Moskva. Existing since at least 1493, it’s one of the city’s oldest. Its genesis is Arbat Square, about half a mile (800 meters) west of the Kreml. Arbat Square is also the meeting point of Vozdvizhenka Street and the Boulevard Ring.

The section of the square adjacent to Arbat Steet is Arbat Gate, one of ten gates of the Old City’s wall. This wall stood from the 16th to 18th centuries, and followed the path of what’s now the Boulevard Ring. After this, the street goes southwest, with a dozen side streets, and ends at Smolenskaya Square, which intersects the Garden Ring.

Ultimately, Arbat Street becomes the M1 Highway leading to Warsaw, Smolensk, and Minsk.

Arbat’s etymology is disputed. Most sources feel it comes from the Arabic arbad (suburb, outskirts), though others believe it hails from the Tatar arba (cart). A much more widely disputed etymology claims it comes from the Russian gorbat (bumpy). Unlike much of the rest of Moskva, Arbat Street is rather flat.

The nearby city of Kolomna also has an Arbat Street, which was often attacked by the Golden Horde. Thus, Moskva’s Arbat Street may have also been named during this period.

Some of the side streets’ names bear testament to the craftspeople who had workshops there in the 15th century, such as Plotnikov (Carpenters’) Lane and Serebryaniy (Silver) Lane. During this earliest period of the street’s history, there were also many churches, and houses where the craftspeople and clergy lived.

During the reign of Ivan IV (Ivan Grozniy, whose appellation truly translates more like “awe-inspiring” than “terrible”), the infamous Oprichina (secret police)  were headquartered there. After this period of Russian history ended, it once more became a trade route, and served as an important point of city defense against foreign invaders.

In 1736, about half the street was destroyed by fire, but by the second half of the 18th century, it became prime real estate for nobility, and was seen as Moskva’s most prestigious area. It was like a Muscovite Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Sadly, Arbat Street was one of the many victims of the 1812 Fire of Moskva, which started 14 September when troops and most remaining civilians fled Napoléon’s approaching army. A shortage of funds delayed the city’s reconstruction by at least five years, but by the 1830s, the city had largely been rebuilt.

By the late 19th century, much of the new architecture was Art Nouveau, as compared to the Empire style of the period of rebuilding which started in the late 1810s. In addition to the architectural change, the street also began attracting more artists, musicians, and intellectuals.

By the early 20th century, Arbat Street was attracting doctors, lawyers, wealthy academics, and the bourgeoisie.

In 1904, electric trams were introduced.

Predictably, after the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks confiscated all private property on the street and made it into state property. In the 1920s, many buildings were converted to communal apartments, and a great many residents were high-ranking Party functionaries.

In addition to old, beautiful apartments, houses, and businesses, most churches were also razed.

Today, Arbat Street is a no-vehicle zone, and much of the real estate is taken up by boutiques, cafés, coffeehouses, bars, souvenir shops and kiosks, restaurants, and street artists. There are also many unique street lanterns and statues.

Copyright NVO

Arbat Street features in Chapter One, “Storm on the Horizon,” of my first Russian historical, You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan. Lyuba and her friends attend a very left-wing gymnasium on Arbat Street, and her cousin Ginny (real name Mikhail) is in an adjoining annex for younger pupils.

Near the end of Chapter One, they’re expelled from school for their monarchist views and refusal to support either the Provisional Government or the Bolsheviks.

Arbat Street will also feature in the second of my two prequels, which will be set from 1897–1917, as Lyuba and her friends grow up.

Copyright Florstein

IWSG—A plethora of progress

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group meets the first Wednesday of each month. Participants share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:

What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I love stepping back in time to another world which now lives only in memory, like 1840s Boston, 1890s St. Petersburg, or 1940s Manhattan, with all the bygone fashions, demographics, architecture, cost of living, cars, films, streetcars, social movements, technologies, etc.

I finished the surprise two new chapters and epilogue for the book formerly known as The Very First. Not counting front and back matter, it’s about 90K. The hot mess of a first draft was only 38K. I’m really proud of the work I did on this radical rewrite and restructuring.

Coupled with the fact that the book formerly known as The Very Next went from 25K to 75K, after another radical rewrite and restructuring, I’ve started thinking maybe my Atlantic City books aren’t meant to be as short as I thought they were.

Granted, by my standards, 75–90K is still pretty damn short!

Ignore the obviously non-Russian names like Amy and Leon, and the pretentious use of accent marks. I was only 21 when I made these notes.

I was inspired to type up synopses for my planned future sixth Russian novel, along with both of the prequels. (You can now find them on the About My Russian Novels page, either in the drop-down menu or the page itself.)

I also came up with titles for all three, and started pulling ideas together for the seventh book, to be set from 1966–sometime in the Seventies. Lastly, I finally typed up the Cast of Characters section for the second prequel, from the handwritten family-by-family pages I made at 21.

The Wrangels are now the Vrangels

Finally, I finished the hiatused Chapter 33, “Quintuple New Leaves,” of my fourth Russian historical, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It clocked it at my longest of this book so far, at 17,282 words. Prior, my longest chapter was the 17,247-word “Union with a Snake” of The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks.

Pages counts hyphenated words, like twenty-two, as two words, so I know the wordcount is slightly higher than it really is.

Chapter 34, “False Paradise,” is going very quickly and easily. I think I’ll have an easier time from this point out, though I also still need to get back to my alternative history for a 17 July release date.

I’m confident I can finish writing and editing it in time if I approach it very strategically. Part I is done, Part II is 99% done, Part III is at least 85% done, and Part IV is maybe 25% done.

This beautiful little boy is counting on me to give him the happy ending he was cruelly denied in real life. I have an obligation more pressing than merely finishing what I started already.