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Moscow Walks. Part One

Aptekarskiy Pereulok (Pharmacy Lane)

Spring has come to Moscow, which means that it is time now to go out and do some sightseeing. So, we will start our first spring tour, or to be more precise, our first leisure walk, in Moscow; and we will begin it in Aptekarskiy Pereulok that is found in the Basmanny district, in the former Nemetskaya sloboda (literally it means German or Foreign Quarter, since all foreigners were formerly called Nemtsy, the same word is now used for the Germans only).

According to the tsar’s edict dated October 4, 1652, foreigners who had not converted into the Orthodox faith, had to leave the prestigious districts of Moscow and build a new quarter for the believers of different faiths on a spot, which was farther away from the city’s center, where “formerly, there were German (foreign) houses, before the devastation of Moscow (in 1611).”

For these purposes, the government marked out an empty piece of land on the right bank of the Yauza River, west of Basmannye Slobody and south of the tsar’s village of Pokrovskoye. The north border of the territory was outlined by the Pokrovskaya Road, east and south – by the Yauza River, and west – by the Chechera River.

House #5-21 on Aptekarskiy Pereulok where Kukuy Creek is Enclosed in a Pipe

This place had been already favoured in the XVI century by “nemtsy” (Europeans of different nationalities) who settled down in Moscow, after being brought here as captives or as hired professionals. Here, according to the testimony of sir Stanislaw Nemoyevsky, “Livonian traitors” built over one hundred and fifty homes, “in Muscovite fashion, with black izbas (log cabins) over the Yauza River; above it, under the wall, the city’s windmills are located, which they use, but usually they have millstones in every house also.”

House 10 on Dobroslobodskaya Street

Dutch merchant Isaac Massa in his work about Muscovy says that these captured Livonians were granted freedom there, but they were forbidden from leaving Moscow. Tsar Boris Godunov, who was especially favorable toward them, granted to these foreign merchants “full freedom and citizenship rights in Moscow on par with all other Moscow merchants.”

Russians called this foreign community in Moscow Kukuy, by the name of a creek flowing in this area, which was a tributary of the Chechera River. In the 16th century, it was just one of the several quarters in the city where foreigners lived.

House #13 on Crossing with Dobroslobodskaya Street

Aptekarskiy Pereulok, where we started our leisure walk, received its name in the beginning of the 18th century. Here, in 1701, Y. G. Gregory opened the first private pharmacy in Moscow. Since that time, Muscovites began to call this avenue Aptekarskiy Pereulok (which means Pharmacy Lane).

Aptekarskiy Pereulok also bore the name of Zhivodernyi Pereulok, after the Zhivoderka creek (that was the name of the Kukuy Creek back then) that crossed it; probably, the name was given because one of its smaller confluent creeks up the stream flowed by a German market, where the slaughterhouses were located.

In Aptekarskiy Pereulok our attention is caught by a building of red brick with the white elements of its finishing exterior under the number 5/21. The house was built in 1903 by merchant F. A. Demin, according to the design of architect Piotrovich; and in 1904, the fourth floor was added on to the building. By the way, under the right wing of this building there is a brick pipe, into which, before the construction started, the Kukuy creek was enclosed that formerly served as a border of the old Nemetskaya Sloboda.

Building of Former Denisovskie Bani (Baths), Confluence of Kukuy into Chechora

As we pass by the building, under which the Kukuy creek is sealed into a pipe, we get to the Dobroslobodskaya Street. Until 1974, the present Dobroslobodskaya Street consisted of two lanes – Dobroslobodskiy and Chicherinskiy Pereulok. The first building that catches the eye because of its old age is the building under number 10. In the past, there was a military hospital in this building, then there were rooms for rent; now it is used as a residential building. The former owner of the building was merchant N. L. Kirillov. Merchant Kirillov had a construction business and was a member of Banner Bearers of the Temple of Christ the Saviour. This house was also the address of Vladimir Voinovich’s residence. In one of his short stories, Vladimir Voinovich narrates how at the end of September of 1956 Khrushchev, who decided to rebuild the capital, allowed construction companies to temporarily register non-Muscovites in Moscow. This little opening was used by many, Vladimir Voinovich being among them; but very soon he disappointed the administration of PMS-12 because he had not stayed with them even for two months. Eventually, Voinovich picked up a job with the Baumansky repair and construction trust, and was accommodated at the hostel at the following address Dobroslobodskiy Pereulok, 22 (modern address – building №10с3). It was a four-storey construction, originally built for a military hospital, but since it had failed some test inspections, it was given over to some single construction workers to live in.

As we go further down Dobroslobodskaya Street toward the Yauza River, we will get to the intersection of Dobroslobodskaya Street with Denisovskiy Pereulok.

Razguliay, Moscow State Civil Engineering Institute

Denisovskiy Pereulok starts from the intersection with Tokmakov Pereulok, then it crosses Dobroslobodskaya Street (former Chechorskiy Pereulok), where at the confluence of Kukuy Stream with the Chechora, Denisovskiye Bani (public baths) once stood, named after their owner; and then it runs into Baumanskaya Street (former Nemetskaya Street). Denisovskiye Bani no longer exist. After the reconstruction carried out in 2000, the public bathhouses were rebuilt and made into some office facilities. Of the former building only the facade remained. Denisovskiye Bani were arranged in the building built in the early XX century with a portal fashioned according to the Moorish style. Because of its Moorish portal, this building was referred to by the Muscovites as both a mosque and a synagogue. There was also a beer pub in this building, which was frequented by local dwellers seeking shelter from the summer heat.

Razguliay, Moscow State Civil Engineering Institute, Mysterious Panel

Some reference books about the origins of the names of Moscow’s streets assert that Denisovskiy Pereulok received its name from the first name of the famous play writer Denis Fonvizin, who lived in it. But this assertion fails at the face of facts – in Moscow, as well as in other cities, the streets were never named according to first names, instead they were named according to the last names of the most prominent property owners. D. I. Fonvizin never had a home here. But he indeed lived in this street, though only for a short time – for about ten months from 1791 till 1792, renting the house (№ 13) of a “post service sergeant” Schmelev. This building has survived; it stands at the intersection with Dobroslobodskaya Street.

Somewhere around the end of the XVIIth century, a Dutch Reformist church was standing here; due to this fact, for a long time this section of Denisovskiy Pereulok between Bolshoy Demidovskiy Pereulok and Nemetskaya Street was called Gollandskiy (Dutch) Pereulok. Dutchmen constituted a large majority of the population of the Novo-Nemetskaya Sloboda (New German Quarter), and in 1694 they obtained a permission to build their church – its stone facility could hold around 200 people. According to some sources, Franz Lefort was buried in it. In 1812, the church burned down and its building devastated by the fire was sold to Major General M. Y. Lamakin.

At that time, Denisovskiy Pereulok was filled with tempting smells, for there was a relatively small, but well-known in Moscow “Steam Factory of Pastries from Ivan Pavlovich Yani” (building № 30). The owner, who was a Greek by nationality, in all probability, brought many sweets’ recipes with himself, and his candy and pastry shops in Solodovnikovskiy and Lubyanskiy trading malls were always crowding with clients. In the beginning of the XIXth century, there were two pieces of property on this site, enclosed by three alleys – Gardnerovskiy Pereulok, Bolshoi Demidovskiy Pereulok and Denisovskiy Pereulok. One of them was owned by Major General A. A. Volkov, the chief of the Moscow police corps since 1826, who sent reports to Saint Petersburg concerning the conduct of A. S. Pushkin. He was married to one of the sisters of the Rimsky-Korsakov family, Sofia Alexandrovna; M. O. Gershenzon wrote an entertaining story about this family in his book “Griboyedov’s Moscow.” In 1817, on Volkov’s property there was a large wooden house with a mezzanine, facing Denisovskiy Pereulok with its abutting end.

Another piece, which was later added to the factory’s premises, faced Bolshoi Demidovskiy Pereulok and belonged to an Advisor on Commerce A. A. Kriger. Both of these sites were purchased in the 1880s by I. P. Yani, or, as he spelled his name back then – Yani Panayot, who constructed several buildings for his factory there. In 1903, his heiress built a mansion for herself there; it was a two-storey building that had a bay window on the corner crowned with a little dome. One can still see this work of architect L. F. Dauksha in Denisovskiy Pereulok.

Across from the former confectionery factory in the same lane, facing the frontage line with its abutting end, there is an interesting mansion (№ 23). In the base of the building there are chambers of the ХII – ХVIII centuries that have fully preserved their vault system in the basement level. In 1777, the building was owned by “foreigner” I. I. Butasov. Its later history is not clear – probably before 1817, second lieutenant S. G. Savin rebuilt it on the more ancient foundation (most likely, it is his coat of arms that is depicted in the tympanum of the pediment).

And now we will leave Denisovskiy Pereulok to go back to Dobroslobodskaya Street again, heading for the very beginning of the street – the spot, which is known as “Razguliay.”

On the odd-numbered side of Dobroslobodskaya Street our attention is drawn to a fine, bright Burgundy building with white columns, which is now occupied by Moscow State Civil Engineering University. In the past, the building became known as “Dom na Razguliaye” (House on Razguliay). Even now you can see the traces of a sun dial on its facade, linked to some ominous traditions.

According to one version, Count Yakov Bruce himself once lived in the building on the corner of Dobroslobodsky Pereulok and Yelohovskaya.

Count Yakov William Bruce was an associate of Peter the Great, and his person in Russian history is surrounded with many mysterious stories. Allegedly, he combined exercises in different sciences with magic, alchemy, and astrology; and because of this he was even called a warlock. There are several intriguing places in Moscow now, associated with the person of Bruce that have a halo of mystery around them.

For example, at the end of Sretenka, where the modern Sukharevskaya metro station is now, once there was the Sukhareva watchtower. At the end of the XVIth century, the city premises ended there; and beyond that point there was the Troitskaya road. At first, the tower was wooden, but later, in Peter the Great’s time, it was replaced with a stone tower. That is the place where Peter put his associate to dwell – his infamous “warlock” count Yakov Bruce.

In the upper tier of the tower Bruce made an observatory that according to some legends became the place from which “iron birds with human heads would fly out” at night. It was also rumored about the count himself that at night he would turn into a raven and fly over Moscow. The tower’s basement was a laboratory, in which Yakov Bruce was making different alchemic experiments; and allegedly the “Black Book” written by Satan himself was kept there too. According to tradition, it could be used to open any lock, and it could also help in finding any buried treasure hoards. Before his very end, Bruce allegedly left it in one of the walls of the tower. All other books, the unique equipment of the laboratory and astronomic devices disappeared without a trace.

In 1934, it was decided to tear down the Sukhareva tower. Strangely enough though, it was not blown up – it was dissembled brick by brick. People said that workers tried to find the Black book, but could not succeed in it.

At the present time there are talks about the need to reconstruct the tower as a monument of architecture; but something always seems to ruin these plans. Probably, some dark supernatural forces frustrate reconstructing the Sukhareva tower.

In the backstreets of Sretenka, up to this day people sometimes meet a strange, lean old man, clothed in an old-fashioned dress and wearing a powdered wig. They say that this man is Yakov Bruce, who cannot find his resting place …

But let us come back to our house – it is here, on Razguliay, where count Yakov Bruce supposedly went to meet his Maker …

But these are just legends. In reality, the house was built by count Musin-Pushkin in the XVIII century: one of his relatives was married to a grandniece of Yakov Bruce.

Still, there is also another legend. According to it, warlock Bruce made a magic clock for Musin-Pushkin that was able to foretell the future and point out to buried treasures. But while the work was still being done, the count who ordered it died, and his heirs refused to pay for Bruce’s work. In his anger, he is said to have cursed the clock, and from that time the clock would only show bad things.

Since that time, it turned into an ominous tradition. Before the beginning of the Revolution, First and Second world wars, the stone panel of the clock dial became blood-red. And sometimes on its surface there would be an image of a white cross on a black coffin’s top to direct to a buried treasure; but those who ventured to look for it according to “Bruce’s indicator” died in terrible pain soon after they started their endeavour.

Indeed, this part of the construction resembling the coffin’s lid has been preserved up to this day between the windows of the first and second floors of the building. Earlier, there was an image of the cross hewn on it, names of the months of the year, numbers, vague symbols, and in the center of it there was a rod.

In the 1920s, members of “Old Moscow” society carried out researches to study the mysterious stone panel. They were able to establish that it is an “eternal” sun calendar working on the principle of a sun dial. But how is this sun dial related to Bruce?

According to some authorities, this sun dial panel was built on the facade by abbot Surugue, who was a tutor of Musin-Pushkin’s children. He was highly educated and well read and he authored many study books on mythology, history and French literature.

There are memoirs of count Musin-Puskin’s granddaughter Sofia Mescherskaya, where she says that after the sun dial was set in its place, crowds of people would gather on Razguliay to look at this singular wonder. At noon, many watch makers gathered here to check the exact time.

By the way, there are still some rumours, according to which somewhere behind the notorious panel there is a hidden room, where all the magic utensils of Yakov Bruce are stored. Many people even tried to look for it.

There is also a myth that in the Soviet times among local dwellers and among students and teachers there was a high rate of suicides and different mental disorders. That was the reason why the authorities decided to dismantle strange symbols from the panel; as for the panel itself – it was decided to cover it with paint.

3 комментария

  1. Мегаполис – это характерное поселение людей, отгороженное от хаоса и глубоко структурированное. В мегаполисе находятся все культурные формы (храмы, театры, музеи, библиотеки, школы и т. д.). Именно здесь создаются свои «центры вращения» информации, деятельности, человеческого общения, регулирующие жизнь. В нем любой человек обретает свою «нишу», в исходя из от образованности, специальности, уровня личной культуры, исторического прошлого. Любой мегаполис имеет свое «лицо», свои нравственные измерения, свою духовность, свой менталитет. Город – понятие глубоко культурологическое; это образ жизни людей и способ существования и развития ими культуры в условиях цивилизации.

  2. Понравиласть статья. Вчера проходила по Доброслободской улице после изучения списка домов, подлежащих сносу. Среди них дом 10 со всеми его строениями, красивый, вполне ремонтируемый, и дом 11-13, изумляющий своей крепостью и надежностью. А родилась я в доме 3 по Доброслободскому тогда переулку – двухэтажное одноподъездное каменно-деревянное строение, соседствующее с нынешним Строительным институтом. Дом был построен буквой “П”, в нем был двор, закрытый от улицы воротами, от которых зимой мы катались на санках до заднего двора, черная лестница со двора, по которой можно попасть в квартиру через кухню.На верхней площадке лестницы у меня жили кролики и стояли велосипеды и коляски, и еще был интереснейший чердак. Дом снесли в 1980-х и сначала на его месте построили гараж, потом кафе, позднее переименованное, но преуспевшее…

    • по Доброслободской улице дом 8 кв 8 проживали родители….может знаете что стало с домом и где найти списки жителей кто куда переехал.буду благодарен за ответ.

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