Moscow’s oldest area “Китай Город” (Kitai Gorod) is located East of the Kremlin, only separated from it by the Red Square.
Although the name of this area is often translated in English as “China town”, don’t expect to find yourself surrounded by Chinese restaurants and shops. Actually according to linguists it seems that the word finds its roots in “Кита” (wall), reminding the first gates erected around the place to protect it.
The area is small, articulated around three streets and can be visited in about two hours. Kitai Gorod was built by rich merchants in the middle age. The construction of several monasteries and churches, academies and libraries soon gave the place an intellectual atmosphere.
Between 1534 and 1538, a gate was erected around the place. Unfortunately little is left from it nowadays.
Walking down улица Варварка (Varvarka street) from the Red square you’ll pass the Merchant hall on your left built in 1789 by Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi. On the right side of the street, you’ll find several churches: Церковь Святой Варвары (Sainte Barbara Church), Храм Максима Блаженного (Church Saint Maxim), Знаменский монастырь (Monastery of Our Lady of the Sign), Церковь Святооргия (Church of Saint George), Храм Всех Святых на Кулишках (Church of All Saints). Палаты в Зарядье (Palaces of Zaryadye) and Старый Английский двор (the old English palace) are also situated on this street.
From here take on your left along Ипатьевский переулок (Ipatevsky side street) to улица Ильинка (Ilinka street). Don’t miss Храм Троицы Живоначальной в Никитниках (Church of the Holy Trinity). The church built between 1631 and 1663, is one the most beautiful one in Moscow, surprising the visitor with its architectural details.
Улица Ильинка (Ilinka street), Moscow business centre in the 19th is lined with banks and building, and Биржевая площадь (stock market).
Following Богоявленский переулок (Bogoyavlensky side street) to Никольская улица (Nikolskaya street), have a look at Собор Богоявленского монастыря (the Epiphany monastery) founded between 1693-1697.
Никольская улица (Nikolskaya street) is famous for being the site of Moscow first university, the Slavic Greek Latin University. Most of the churches and monasteries that were built here have been destroyed along the centuries. The intellectual atmosphere brought with the establishment of libraries and schools, disappeared in the 19th century making room to banks and working offices.
You still can see Бывшая Синодальная типография (Ancient Typography Synodal), which became Историко-архивный институт (The institute of Historic Archives).
Walk through Третьяковский проезд (Tretyakov drive), have a look at what is left of Китайгородская стена (the wall of Kitai Gorod), close to the Metropol hotel.
At the end of this tour, don’t forget to make a visit to Музей истории города Москвы (Museum of History of Moscow) displaying on two floors the history of our capital.