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Real Estate

Across the River: Zamoskvorechye, Tretyakovskaya & Paveletskaya
The third of an essential guide to favorite residential areas
Text and photos by Ross Hunter
Original art by John Harrison

One of Moscow’s more enigmatic curiosities is the area beyond the Moscow River – literally Za-Moskvo-Rechye – which Stalin could see from his bedroom window in the Kremlin, but nevertheless escaped his obsession for grandiose redevelopment. Before the modern age, it also escaped the regular disasters by fire that razed many city center areas, maybe because development was limited by regular flooding, at least until 1786. As a result, just one bridge away from Red Square, we have a charming old town with a delightfully random street pattern, lots of old buildings and remarkably few high-rise landmarks. This is Moscow for people not machines: pavement cafes abound, many roads are car-free and within the bend of the river there are no underpasses – cars wait for walkers, the way it should be. With it having no straight thoroughfares, views are intimate and varied, and every few steps suddenly opens, then closes another charming vista or undiscovered building.

Looking down Bolshaya Ordinka Ulitsa from Moskvoretsky bridge

This is a place for living in, not showcasing. If it is not at the top of the card with newcomers, it is certainly popular with the long-term adoptive expats: the old stagers who know Moscow best have bought their pads here.

Metro station Novokuznetskya


Statue of Pavel Tretyakov

The area south of the river, bounded by the Garden Ring that crosses from Park Kultury to Paveletskaya by way of Oktyabrskaya and Dobryninskaya. Famous avenues and overblown skyscrapers are agreeable by their absence.

Zamoskvorechye is best explored on foot, and not just because traffic is often very sticky. Once you are out of the Metro or over the bridge, even the main streets are narrow and irregular, and with cafes and a whole variety of historic buildings, this is the best part of Moscow for feeling as if you are in an old European city – one that has missed reconstruction forced by fire, Stalin or (so far) the current blue-glass craze. There are abundant pedestrian zones, of which two strolls are particular favorites. From Novokuznetskaya metro station, go west to the old Tretyakov building and north along Lavrushisky Pereulok towards the Kremlin, over the footbridge to be welcomed by a statue of Ilya Repin himself. Or start at the sculpture gardens, and follow Krymsky Val past the new Tretyakov along an embankment adorned with street artists selling their works, and to or past Gorky Park. Only the bustling Garden Ring disturbs the peace but even that is can be missed thanks to an artembellished underpass.

The Special Bits:

The two Tretyakov Galleries have between them an astonishing collection of wonderful Russian art, and also serve as a history of the Russian people and their culture.

After that, the great thing about Zamoskvorechye is its old city charm, without flash or tourist spectaculars – it is a walker’s area, full of street life, perfect for people watching.

Streets: Polyanka, Yakimanka, Pyatnitskaya and Ordinka are the main streets, replete with shops and every retail need. One side street behind and you can be looking for your ideal apartment. A view over the river, or better, a building on one of the embankments is a bonus. Supermarkets, specialist shops and street markets are all within easy reach. There is an endless variety of cafes, bars and eating places, indoors and on the pavement, with a particular concentration of ethnic restaurants to suit every taste and budget.

One of several pedestrian bridges across the Yauza

Fountain at gallery

Buildings & Statues: tick them off as you go: the original Tretyakov Gallery (with statue), the Church of St. Clements – being restored, the statue of Repin, the largest statue of Lenin in Moscow at Oktyabrskaya, the sculpture park in the grounds of the Central House of Artists, the statue of Peter the Great (if you like that sort of thing), the concert hall at Krasnye Holmy. The newly-weds bridge over the canal, decorated with love trees and bedecked in ceremonial padlocks is best at the weekend, when it is frequently full of wedding parties as they tour the city.

Lavrushinsky Pereulok

The Best Metro Stations:
Tretyakovskaya/ Novokuznetskaya and Paveletskaya are without doubt the most imposing and attractive, and all four of the local Brown line stations were completed in the early 1950s, so are in post-war celebratory style.

Nearby? If you like this area but can’t find what you want... keep asking your favorite estate agents! Otherwise, go a bit further south, perhaps Shabolovskaya (near Shukhov’s wonderful radio tower); or along Leninsky Prospekt – this is popular with expats from various countries, all the way down SW to Yugo- Zapadnaya. But be warned, the traffic past Gagarin can be ghastly, by Moscow standards, that is!


“The best expat residential area” – by many who have lived here longest “The most historic and handy part of Moscow”

“Unbeatable, especially with a river view”

Top 10 +/- The list of all that matters most

  1. Old, haphazard, non-Stalinized streets: the people’s part of the city…
  2. … but traffic can get very sticky at rush hours;
  3. The river and the Vodootvodny Canal – always nearby;
  4. Lots of local play areas and green spaces...
  5. ... but they are small, apart from Gorky Park and the sculpture gardens;
  6. Handy for the center and for trams and trains – especially the Domodedovo airport express from nearby Paveletsky Station;
  7. More sensible prices for shopping, eating and drinking, and maybe for rent;
  8. Charming views, that change every few paces...
  9. … with no skyscrapers or underpasses;
  10. Unmissable: The Tretyakov Galleries and a stroll along the canal.

Thanks! I am indebted to the following, and more, for their expert and local insights: Elena Marguleva, Anna at, Iben at and EIS parents at  

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