10 facts you should know about Moscow's Zaryadye Park

Legion Media
The capital's most state-of-the-art urban park is situated near the Kremlin: In this article, we talk about its history and what you can do there.

1. It conserves the remains of the medieval capital

Zaryadye - literally "behind the trading rows" - is the name of the neighborhood behind the Kremlin between the River Moskva and Varvarka Street, where trading was conducted since the 12th century. By the 15th century and onwards, it was considered very prestigious to live in Zaryadye. It was there that the future Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich, the first of the Romanovs, was born. By the way, you can still see the birthplace of the tsarist dynasty today: The Chambers of the Romanov Boyars in the park occupy one of the oldest buildings in Moscow.

For several centuries, Zaryadye and, with it, the whole of the Kitai-Gorod neighborhood, was surrounded by a brick wall. It had been built in the 16th century for protection against raids, by the same master builders who had worked on the Kremlin. The Kitai-Gorod wall was 2.6 km long and six meters thick. In the 20th century, the wall was demolished - only dilapidated fragments of it have survived to this day. One of them can be found in Zaryadye's Underground Museum.

2. A Stalinist skyscraper could have been built on the site

Soviet architects wouldn't leave the site adjacent to the Kremlin in peace. It seemed to them an ideal spot for erecting a super modern building to tower over the River Moskva, replacing the aging buildings of the old trading quarter.

A skyscraper in place of ancient houses? Why not? In the 1940s, Moscow authorities decided that Zaryadye was just the place for a 32-story administrative building that would be the eighth Stalinist skyscraper in Moscow. Construction began in 1947, but, after Stalin's death, the project was abandoned. Eventually, the Rossiya Hotel - considered the largest hotel in the world in the late 1960s - was built on the site instead.

3. It is the most innovative park in Russia

Today's state-of-the-art park, which harmoniously combines urban redevelopment with natural landscape, appeared on the site of the Rossiya Hotel in 2017. It was designed by U.S. studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Hargreaves Associates and Moscow firm Citymakers.

Zaryadye is the most innovative park in the country. For example, in the Polet Media Complex’, you can go on a virtual journey around Russia and get a bird's-eye view of its many mountains, lakes and forests. And ice-cream and coffee are sold by robot baristas! 

A stroll along the park's alleys and terraces is a way of learning about nature in Russia: More than 120 species of plants from different corners of the country - from tundra and taiga to swamp and steppe - are represented there. At Zaryadye, the din of the city is almost inaudible - there is just the sound of music softly playing, while a fabulous view of Old Moscow opens up from practically every spot.

4. The only place in Russia on Time magazine's list

The Moscow park was the sole Russian destination included by Time magazine on its list of the world's 100 greatest places in 2018. The magazine noted that it was the first time in half a century that the Russian capital had acquired a new public park.

5. It has exhibition halls & museums

Zaryadye has several museums, including the ancient chambers of the Old English Court (the building was home to the first foreign mission to be established in the Principality of Moscow) and the Chambers of the Romanov Boyars, with displays narrating the history of the boyar nobility in the 15th-16th centuries. The Underground Museum, the Media Center exhibition hall and the Parking Gallery, meanwhile, host contemporary art shows. 

6. It's the best location in town for photography

The main focal point at Zaryadye is the Soaring Bridge, whose curving V-shape seems to be suspended over the River Moskva. From there there, excellent views of the Kremlin, the Moskvoretskaya and Raushskaya embankments, the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge and the Stalinist skyscraper on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment open up. However, it is always crowded: That’s because everyone knows, even locals, that the most atmospheric photos with views of the capital are to be had there!

7. There is a reconstruction of an ice cave

Artist Alexander Ponomarev created an art installation specially for Zaryadye consisting of 14 km of curving pipes, in which 70 tons of water has been frozen. Inside this artificial “cave - basically an area simulating permanent winter - one can imagine being somewhere in the Far North of Russia!

8. You can take a blitz journey around Russia

Do you want to take the fastest possible voyage around Russia? Then head for the Florarium, which is a futuristic aeroponic conservatory where plants are grown without watering and without soil. With its spiral shape, it doesn't even look like a conventional glasshouse. More than 300 species of plants from all of Russia's regions have been collected in 89 special plant boxes. The entire route around the Florarium measures just 49.5 meters and it is officially regarded as the shortest option for traveling around the country”!

9. It has Russia's most modern concert hall

Zaryadye is not just a place for a stroll, but you can also listen to live music. The concert hall is like a cut-glass jewel box. It is covered with a "glass crust": Daylight filters through its transparent walls and, in the evening, the building becomes an enormous sparkling crystal. The acoustics for the concert hall were designed by renowned Japanese engineer Yasuhisa Toyota, who was behind similar projects at the Mariinsky Theater, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The concert hall, meanwhile, was inaugurated by the Mariinsky's artistic director Valery Gergiev.

10. Films can be viewed in 360-degree format

Another remarkable feature of Zaryadye is a cinema showing films in 360-degree format. There are no seats and audience members can walk around during screenings, picking whatever viewpoint seems best. They are able to feel the blowing of the wind and detect different smells, immersing themselves fully in the action. For instance, you can set off into space with YuriGagarin - media artists Yan Kalnberzin and Eugene Afonin devised visuals that create the impression of traveling in space.

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