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Real Estate

Chistiye Prudy - The North East
The eighth and concluding part of our guide to favourite residential areas in Moscow
Text and photos by Ross Hunter
Photos by Julia Nozdracheva and John Harrison

For the sake of balance and objectivity, I have been trying to find something negative to write about Chistiye Prudy. It isn’t easy. Sandwiched between the KGB and three railways stations? That’s stretching geography and sense – the rest of Lubyanka is crammed with interesting and useful amenities, and the Kazanskiy and Yaroslavl stations are architectural gems. It is full of French? I risk getting ‘merdered’’ for suggesting this, and anyway it implies a certain elan, and plentiful quality shops. The name is Moscow sarcasm? True enough, when butchers’ filth was tipped in the fetid ponds, but getting on for three centuries out of date – the Clean Pond is exactly that, and a delight on both eye and nose. Very expensive? Aha! Yes, it is very popular and high rents keep out the riff-raff (like me). But it is a lot better value than other Pondproximate places. No, Christy Prudy is a lovely area and I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t love it.

Skating on Chiye Prudy, acrylics, John Harrison

If Chistiye Prudy’s boundaries blend softly into Kitai Gorod, Krasnye Vorota and Lubyanka, its centre is very clear. The middle of the Boulevard Ring from the pond to the eponymous Metro station is the village green, and the lace for a delightful stroll. Outside the traffic are rows of agreeably diverse, practical and interesting shops. This is a pleasant place to be by day or in the evening, workday or weekend, on foot, with pram or by bike. Everyone will have their own favourite places, too numerous to list.

A fine line of statues oversees the walk along the greensward. Perambulating south to north, by the Pokrovka crossing we first meet Nikolai Chernishevsky (1828-89) revolutionary thinker and writer of the seminal tract ‘What is to be Done’, argued to be more influential than Das Capital. By the pavilion Abay Kunanbaev (1845-1904), Kazak poet and philosopher, looks over the families and friends enjoying the welldesigned leisure space. Facing the Metro, an oversized Alexander Griboyedov (1795-1829) famous for the play ‘Woe for Wit’, peers down on a melange of younger music lovers, among them punks, goths, metalheads and kindred tribes... and a solo baritone saxophonist. Chacun a son gout.

Contrasting with the massive Lukoil building stands Vladimir Shukhov (1853- 1939) the great engineer of graceful and elegant metal structures (the radio tower and roof of GUM are his), and at his feet is a humorous collection of comic toy sculptures, great fun for little people.

Four down, and not a Lenin in sight! Fear not, the last in the line at Sretensky Street is a very flattering and graceful homage to his wife Nadia Krupskaya (1869-1939).

If the main axis of Chistiye Prudy follows the road roughly North South, an equally interesting radial route crosses it, above and below ground. Myastnitskaya is named after the old butchers’ district, and runs from Lubyanka square right out to the Garden Ring. With the Polytechnical museum and Dietsky Mir (currently under renovation) at one end and two of the Seven Sisters at the other, there is an abundance of interesting architecture.

Below ground runs the Red Metro line, route no.1. In English, the station names make an appealing list: Beautiful Gate, Clean Ponds, Kuznetsky’s Bridge, Hunter’s Row, Lenin’s Library, Kropotkin’s place and Culture Park. If I have cheated slightly, artistic licence is better than repetition.

“We really enjoyed living in Chistiye Prudy - and miss it!”

Chistiye Prudy has the feel of an educated place. There are a lot of students around, discussion in the cafes is highcalibre, and there are abundant theatres and bookshops. Next to Lubyanka, Biblio- Globus has amazing volume and variety, and next door the Mayakovsky bookshop has an eclectic selection. Just across Sretensky St, ‘Relod’ has a humbling richness of choice for learners of English, good fiction and children’s sections, and they are also book suppliers, to our school among others.

There are some fantastic coffee shops, restaurants and bars in the area – to suit all tastes, from singles to families. You will love the amazing Chinoiserie-decorated tea shop on Myasnitskaya built by Perlov, a wealthy tea merchant in the 1880s. The Leningradskaya Hotel has been magnificently renovated in the best of 1950s style. 6 Sretensky Blvd is another ex-Rossiya Insurance building (as was Lubyanka), and has an amazingly ornate facade, admired by Le Corbusier, no less. Other notable buildings include the ‘Egg’ house off Furmanny pereulok, the Morozov mansion on 21 Podsosenskyi pereulok and the Durasov manor on 11 Pokrovsky. Heading away from the city, Krasnye Vorota is named after a ‘beautiful gate’ built for Empress Elizabeth’s arrival in Moscow in the mid 1700s. Pushkin lived for a while in the area, at the Yusupov house on Kharitonevsky Pereulok: how about you?

Russian writer
Alexander Griboedov

Nadezhda Krupskaya,
Lenin’s wife

Vladimir Shukhov

The special bits:

The walk between pond and Metro along the Boulevard

All along Myasnitskaya: but especially the magnificent Perlov tea shop at no.19

The Tram/Tavern ‘Annushka’, which tours the centre of Chistiye Prudy while giving you all the feel Bulgakov’s ‘Master and Margarita’

Buildings & statues: where to start? The Mayakovsky museum, the Hotel Leningradskaya, Kazansky station, Shukov, the Polytechnical museum, Sovremennik Theatre

The Best Metro stations: along the Red line for history (Komsomolskaya, Chistiye P, Lubyanka), the elegant new stations on the pale green for modernity (Sretensky Bulvar, Turgenevskaya)

Abay Kunanbaev

Part of Abay Kunanbaev’s statue


If you like this area but can’t find what you want … check with the real-estate experts listed below. The feel of Chistiye Prudy seeps in all directions, especially Kitai Gorod (Passport, December 2009). Or go further west and up the price range to Patriarshy Pond or south and better value to Taganska.

Top 10 +/-

The list of all that matters most

  1. A village community feel, yet only a brisk walk from the centre
  2. Strolling round the pond in summer, skating across it in winter
  3. Compact, complete and full of interesting facilities
  4. Lots of individual boutiques, cafes, restaurants and night spots
  5. Rents expensive, but with lots of character and variety
  6. Traffic and parking a headache ... but where in Moscow isn’t?
  7. More of Moscow’s best bookshops in less space
  8. Le plus chic banlieu (and popular with the Japanese too)
  9. Must-sees a-plenty, outnumbered by an infinity of ‘can-do’ opportunities
  10. Unmissable: a cold glass, a warm sunset and a busy throng behind the pavilion. Sante!

That completes our tour around eight of Moscow’s best loved central residential areas. I hope you enjoyed it, and enjoy living in your patch. Which area is your favourite? Next month, Passport publishes a condensed summary of all the areas – your views would be a great help! After that, we head further out and explore peripheral areas and the great green spaces of Moscow, all inside the MKAD. See you there!

I have had the fun of distilling the experts’ expertise. Do contact them for neat knowledge:
Harriet at;
Anna at;
Marina Semenova at Intermark Savills:
and EIS parents

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