Kitai-Gorod - Bustling with Business for Centuries

When visiting Moscow, you might stumble on a beautiful business district known as Kitai-Gorod. Though no one is completely sure of the original meaning of ‘kitai’, ‘gorod’ is Russian for ‘town’. Sure enough, this little area was once completely encircled by medieval walls making it a sort of town within a town. From its earliest days it served as a bustling trading quarter with a variety of merchants and craftsmen settling in the area and selling their wares. The only thing that has changed is the type of business conducted here and today you will find that Kitai-Gorod is considered to be one of Moscow’s most prestigious business areas. It is filled with banks, shops and all sorts of other businesses which keep the streets alive during the day but also leave them deserted at night.

The area gained its unusual name shortly after 1534 when an Italian architect known by the Russian name Petrok Maly decided to erect a massive fortified wall around the area. The sturdy white stone walls originally features 13 towers and six gates. Despite the fact that the average tower measured six meters high and six meters wide, the last of these were demolished in the 1930s. However, a few small portions of the original wall still stand and you can seem them as you travel the outskirts of the district. You will find one portion in Zaryadye and the other near Moscow’s Metro’s Okhotny Ryad station exit. The Kitai-Gorod district is bordered by Red Square, Manege Square, Theatre Square, Lubyanka Square, Slavyanskaya Square and Old and New Square. Bourse Square can be found at the centre of Kitai-Gorod and makes a beautiful feature in this busy business district.

Today Kitai-Gorod is known mainly for it’s beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. You will find the best examples at the Upper Trading Rows, the Printing Yard and the Middle Trading Rows. The Merchant Court was built in a Neo-classical style and was used for balls and exhibitions. More modern attractions include Tretyakov Drive which features luxurious boutiques and the American-type tower which houses the Constitutional Court of Russia. Other attractions which can be found here include four medieval abbeys and two beautiful 17th century churches. There has been talk of restoring the original city wall which once surrounded the district and city officials also plan to stop automobile traffic in the area. These efforts will hopefully help restore the area to some of its former glory and help maintain the historical significance of the district.

 



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