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"VERSAILLES ON THE YAUZA"

Дата публикации: 19 сентября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BQRISOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: ТУРИЗМ И ПУТЕШЕСТВИЯ
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №3, 2011, C.89-94
Номер публикации: №1632053267


Olga BQRISOVA, (c)

by Olga BQRISOVA, journalist

 

The first documentary records on the existence of Nemetskaya Sloboda, a district where foreigners lived, in the territory of present-day Moscow are dated back to the 16th century: to the east of the Kremlin, between the Yauza river and the Kukui stream, an isolated area where Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible settled prisoners of the Livonian War of 1558-1583 (Rus was at war with the Great Principality of Lithuania, Sweden, the Order of the Brothers of the Sword, etc. for Baltic lands) was set apart. That time this district was on the outskirts of the capital and no one could even imagine that a century later it would become a political center of the country.

 

There lived foreign merchants, craftsmen, and warmongers. In the 1690s tsar Peter I spent a lot of time there and absorbed European culture; as a result, the idea of large-scale reforms in Russia came into his head, as economic and military lag of the country threatened its sovereignty. The young tsar got acquainted with many inhabitants of Nemetskaya Sloboda, but was fascinated most by an easy-going convivial fellow Frantz Lefort, who was in military service in Moscow. According to recollections of his compatriot Captain Senebier, there was no "another foreigner in Moscow that had more power. He would become a very rich man if he were not so generous. It's beyond doubt he reached such a high position in society owing to this very personal characteristic".

 

In 1697-1698, on Peter's order, a palace for his favorite Lefort was built on the right bank of Yauza (architect, or a "stone master", as this occupation was called that time, Dmitry Aksamitov). But Lefort died in a short time and the palace passed to Alexander Menshikov, another companion of the tsar-reformer. In 1707-1709, on Menshikov's order, the Italian architect Giovanni Mario Fontana reconstructed the building, added to it two-storeyed blocks with arches and monumental front gates. Muscovites and guests of the capital can see the palace preserved up to date in its original appearance (today the complex is occupied by the Russian State Military and Historical Archives).

 

There also lived Anna Mons, "a foreigner and a wine merchant's daughter, a woman whose love made Peter I turn the ancient Rus towards the West; and he did this so ardently that Russia still remains crooked necked", Daniil Mordovtsev, a writer and historian, wrote in his book Idealists and Realists (1878). By the way, there remain intact the chambers constructed in the second half of the 17th century and owned by van der Gulst, where the tsar visited his "Kukui tsarina" (as people used to call her); today it is one of the oldest preserved structures in Nemetskaya Sloboda.

 

In the 18th century, the lands along Yauza became a favorite place of Russian monarchs. However, many structures, including grand imperial palaces, were built

 
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of wood, and fires usual for Moscow of that period did not spare them. The preserved stone buildings, like the above-mentioned Menshikov's palace, are now occupied by different institutions. That is why the Lefortovo Park, one of the most famous in Europe and the first regular park in Russia (founded in 1703) is the only object of Nemetskaya Sloboda that makes part of the Moscow State United Museum Reserve* established in 2005 on the basis of Kolomenskoye, Lyublino and Izmailovo estates.

 

The picturesque green area on the left bank of the Yauza, a witness to many important events in the history of the Russian state, survived ups and downs. In the early 18th century this territory was an estate owned by the boyar Fyodor Golovin, one of the confidants of Peter I. The owner laid a beautiful garden there--a prototype of many St. Petersburg parks, a "piece of Europe in Moscow", which formed mainly due to what he saw abroad during the Grand Embassy**.

 

In 1706, Golovin died and six years later Peter I bought the estate and adjacent areas from his heirs with an intent to construct a new representative center there. The tsar gave detailed instructions how to develop the territory: "to dig canals and level the territory... to plant wild forest--lindens, maples, elms, ashes... nut trees... All canals and ponds strengthen with piles... not to be seen above water... To lay a roofed road along linden and maple alleys... To construct a stone wall along both

 

See: O. Bazanova, "Patrimonial Estate of the Czars", Science in Russia, No. 1,2011:0. Bazanova, "A Paradise", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2011.--Ed.

 

** The Grand Embassy--Russian diplomatic mission sent to Western Europe in 1697-1698. The mission was organized by Peter I, who aimed to strengthen and expand the alliance between Russia and some countries struggling against Turkey for the northern coast of the Black Sea. to invite foreigners to serve in Russia, order and purchase weapons, etc.--Ed.

 
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sides..." The reconstruction project was entrusted to... his physician in ordinary Dutchman Nikolai Bidloo.

 

What was the reason for such choice, very strange at first glance? It is worth mentioning that Bidloo was not only a gifted physician, but also a painter, philosopher and anatomist. Moreover, he was a well-educated person, in particular, in the field of architecture, and he applied his skills to develop his own estate located in Lefortovo (the land was presented to him by the crowned patient in 1710, who was fond of visiting his European-style garden). Nikolai Lambertovich, as he was called in Russia, also had good managerial abilities and revealed them in full while establishing the first state medical institution to treat soldiers and officers free of charge. According to the tsar's order of 1706 "a hospital was to be built beyond the Yauza opposite Nemetskaya Sloboda to treat sick people... Treatment to be entrusted to Nikolai Bidloo and two doctors, Andrei Repkin and another one to be appointed later".

 

At first, the hospital was located in a wooden building; the buildings, which remained intact, were constructed in 1798-1802 according to the project of Ivan Yegotov (today the Main Military Clinical Hospital named after N. Burdenko). During the Patriotic War of 1812 the hospital received over 17,000 wounded and sick soldiers, in the course of World War I (1914-1918) about 400,000 people, and, of course, it actively operated during World War II of 1941-1945. In the late 19th century there worked such famous surgeons as Nikolai Sklifasov-sky and Nikolai Pirogov (Corresponding Member of St. Petersburg AS from 1847).*

 

By the same order Peter I established the first in the country anatomical theater under the hospital, organized a museum and pharmaceutical kitchen-garden with medicinal plants. The opening of a new surgical school for 50 students was the most important event for national science, as it was the first step to train medical workers in Russia (in the second half of the 18th century the school was reorganized into the Medical Department of Moscow University). Bidloo was in charge of the whole complex and managed to make it a high-class medical instituion of that time.

 

And this energetic man with versatile talents was entrusted by the tsar to develop the Golovin Garden (thus the Lefortovo Park was called at that time). In 1723, the Dutch doctor presented his plan offering to organize a series of ponds with islets and bridges, cascades, alleys,

 

See: A. Grigoryev, N. Grigoryan, "The Miraculous Doctor", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2010.--Ed.

 
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parterros (open areas with lawns, flower-beds and low decorative bushes along the perimeter), grottoes and summer-houses. The works were conducted by more than 1,000 soldiers of the Moscow garrison: they performed earth works, planted trees, strengthened banks with wooden structures and logs, than covered them with soil and sand and sometimes even with stone (which was proved by excavations of the late 1990s-early 2000s).

 

The emperor was especially taken by Bidloo's idea to arrange a system of canals, ponds and fountains. According to Nikolai Kostomarov, a prominent historian of the late 19th century and Corresponding Member of St. Petersburg AS from 1876, "Peter the Great... had a passion for water. To sail, to use it safely for the benefit of man--this was Peter's favorite occupation." His devout dream was to connect two Russian capitals by river routes. In 1805, a semicircular summer-house with eight high granite columns and a bust of the tsar-reformer was set up in the Lefortovo Park in memory of his dream. The inscription below the bust said: "My Minich made me healthy. I hope someday we'll sail from St. Petersburg to Moscow and moor at the Golovin Garden."

 

Let me explain: here is meant General-Field Marshal Christopher Minich, German by birth, who in 1721-1767 served Russia in good faith as an invincible military commander and a gifted engineer. It was he who opened navigation on the Neva, built roads, constructed the Baltic port and the first alternate Ladoga canal (1723-1728); Peter I hoped he would lay water routes between the two capitals. As for the elegant summer-house that immortalized this dream of the tsar, it had a difficult life, as the Lefortovo Park itself. Unfortunately, in 1904 it was ruined by a hurricane that played hell in Moscow (another branch of the Joint Museum Reserve, the Lyublino estate, was also badly damaged by it). The summer-house we can see today was constructed that very year and recently renovated.

 

After Peter's death in 1725, the wonderful Golovin Garden fell into oblivion for some time (elements of the Bidloo's design we can see even today: a bridge-dam between the ponds with the main alley running along it). But when in 1730 Empress Anna Ioannovna mounted the throne, a new life began in the park. It was there that the empress ordered to set up her residence; for this purpose she invited the Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. He designed a magnificent palace and park ensemble, resembling that of Peterhof (suburb of St. Petersburg); people who saw it called it "Versailles on the Yauza".

 

There grew different species of linden, maple, apple tree, pear tree, plum tree and cherry tree; pomegranate trees, lemon trees, coffee and other trees and multicolor flowers decorated greenhouses. Fountains, ponds, canals, staircases and summer-houses delighted the eye.

 
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One of the most exciting engineering structures was a fountain--an unusually elegant support wall decorated with columns, ramps, niches with sculptures, etc. Alas, time was ruthless to the creative work of the Italian master; the only thing that remained intact is a grotto, constructed of red bricks and natural stone, decorated with white carved columns--one of the main monuments of the Lefortovo Park.

 

However, when Anna Ioannovna left Moscow for St. Petersburg, construction works slowed down and the ensemble gradually fell into desolation. It was once again reconstructed in the early 1740s with the accession to the throne of Yelizaveta Petrovna. But she was a rare guest there, and the buildings steadily fell into decay. The fires of 1750-1753 brought the park to a complete destruction. There were some attempts to reconstruct the "Versailles on the Yauza", but in 1771 the last palace building burnt down. Soon after, the next empress of Russia Yekaterina II ordered to commence construction of her new residence there.

 

The grandious palace of Yekaterina with extended façades and a 16-column porch, largest in the city, is a bright example of Russian classicism*. It was designed

 

See: Z. Zolotnitskaya, "Lofty Simplicity and Dignity", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2009; a porch--a row of columns or semicolumns located before the façade of a building, typical of classical architecture.--Ed.

 
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by the Moscow architect Carl Blank, Italians Antonio Rinaldi, Jacomo Quarenghi and others. The magnificent building had been laid in 1773 and was completed only 25 years later (at present the building is occupied by the Combined Academy of the RF Armed Forces). In 1777-1781, there was constructed a stone bridge over the Yauza nearby, designed by Semyon Yakovlev, which is one of the oldest bridges in Moscow called the Lefortovo Bridge today (reconstructed in 1940).

 

As early as 1749-1750, on the opposite bank of the Yauza, there was built a palace designed by Dmirty Ukhtomsky, Ivan Michurin and Carl Blank for the chancellor Count Alexei Bestuzhev-Ryumin (later on the palace got the name "Slobodskoy"). In 1787 the palace passed into ownership of another influential courtier, Prince Alexander Bezborodko. He decided to rebuild the palace and engaged best architects of that time Jacomo Quarenghi and Matvei Kazakov. When the works were completed, Bezborodko said: "My house is ready and it is the best in the city." Probably he was right. It is not by chance that the Polish king Stanislaw Poniatowski, who visited Moscow in 1797, wrote in his diary: "Many travelers who visited Saint-Cloud (in 1572-1870 the main residence of French monarchs.--Ed.), when it was ready for... the queen, assert that Bezborodko's palace is more luxurious and elegant."

 

During the Patriotic War of 1812, the building was severely damaged by fire, and 14 years after the dowager empress Mariya Fyodorovna engaged architect Domenico Gilardi to reconstruct the palace and make it the Imperial Foundling Hospital. As a result, a new empire style-late classicism building decorated with a multifigure sculptural group Minerva by Ivan Vitali appeared in Nemetskaya Sloboda (today, the main building of the Moscow State Technical University named after N. Bauman).

 

The 18th century style area in the midst of modern surroundings decorated with picturesque ponds, old lindens (according to the legend, some of them were planted by Peter I) and magnificent palaces around the Golovin Garden creates an inimitable spirit in this district of our capital, which more than two centuries ago had become a favorite place of the tsar-reformer and later on was admired by his successors. In 1999-2003, large-scale excavations headed by Alexander Veksler, chief architect of Moscow, were carried out in the Lefortovo Park. They allowed to obtain many important scientific data on the old system of ponds and channels, as well as on garden architecture. Geophysical and paleogeographical research works made it possible to study the functioning of reservoirs. In a word, on the basis of these data we hope to restore this unique natural monument.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 19 сентября 2021 года

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