The Bolotnaya square (Bolotnaya from the Russian word “boloto” that means “bog”) is located in the very heart of Moscow. Despite the fact that it gained the worldwide fame after the protest action "March of millions" in 2012, the day before the inauguration of President Putin, the square is primarily one of the main attractions of the capital dazzling with its picturesqueness. The history of the square dates back more than six centuries.
In the early XVth century this area represented a marshland, a bog. This explains the origin of the name. Since the latter half of the century the swampy area was filled, and wooden houses were built. In 1488 a massive living quarter has become the area where an extensive fire originated. A strong wind quickly spread the fire in the city. The fire even reached the across the river Kremlin. More than 5 thousand homesteads were burnt to the ground.
Tsar Ivan III issued a decree that prohibited setting wooden buildings within a radius of 234 meters from the Kremlin. All the homesteads that survived the fire were demolished, including those located on the territory of the present square.
In 1495 they arranged here the Sovereign's garden, also called Tsaritsyn meadow (meadow of the Czarina). It was divided into several flower and garden beds with alleys in between. The garden supplied the Royal court with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.
Several hundred gardeners were engaged in its cultivation. The Garden and the Patch slobodas (quarters) were accommodated on both sides of the garden. Their inhabitants were to supply the court with the fruits of their labor as predial tithe.
From the few handwritten documents and notes of foreign guests it is know that they grew cabbage, beets, onions, garlic, beans as well as apples and pears, from which vinegars, cordials and sauces for meat and poultry were prepared. The Muscovites also had a passion for spicy herbs that were used not only for cooking, but also for medical purposes.
In 1701 the Sovereign's garden has burned. Peter the Great decided not to restore it and to make the shopping arcade, which eventually lasted until the 1920s.
In addition, the square became the venue of fist fights and public executions of enemies of the state.
On the 6th of June, 1671 Stepan Razin was executed here. He was the head of the rebellion against the czar. It set the whole country in turmoil. A huge army was gathered. The rebellion gripped half the country. After the read out of the sentence he was cut into quarters on the scaffold.
In 1691 Andrei Iliyin Bezobrazov was burnt at the same place. He served czars Alexis and Feodor and received such sentence for aiding and abetting sorcery directed against Peter the Great.
In 1775 Emelian Pugachev, head of the massive uprisings that shook Catherine's Russia, was publicly executed on the square. This rebellion was called the Peasant war. Pugachev not only captured vast territories of the country, but also proclaimed himself a miraculously survived Czar Peter III, husband of Catherine the Great, who was deposed by his own spouse.
One of Moscow's proverbs says: "In Moscow you can buy everything, except for own father and mother." So it was. The diversity of the products that were being sold on numerous squares of the city was very impressive.
The Bog Market was the main place for trading of flour and bread. The bread was brought here from all surrounding and southern regions. The merchants were the main buyers and the goods were meant for further resale. In addition they sold meat, vegetables, fruit, shoes, leather, metal products.
The construction of the Drainage channel allowed delivering the goods by river and unloading them directly to the square.
In 1842 they constructed two single-storeyed stone buildings of flour shops.
In 1872 the pavilions made of corrugated metal, where the fruit trade was conducted, were moved to the square from the Polytechnic exhibition.
In 1958 a monument to painter Ilya Repin was erected here. In 1962 the square was renamed the Repin square, and in the 1990s regained its former name.
In September 2001 they installed a sculptural composition by M. Shemyakin "Children – victims of vices" in the Eastern part of the square. It was met with a mixed reaction of both critics and the public. The idea of the artist consisted in visualization in the monument of hope for the future. The call is aimed primarily at the younger generation exposed to modern vices as drug addiction, prostitution, smoking, sadism, violence and other. The monument represents a semicircular structure, where 13 figures of the vices tower over two children. The dark gray mass of stone symbolizes the evil. The golden frame of the children gives hope for salvation of the present and the future generations.
There is a famous Reconciliation bench in the vicinity of the Bolotnaya square. The design is made so that two people can sit only if they are close to each other.
The Bolotnaya square is the venue of many rallies and protest actions.
Currently the it is also a place of gathering of young people, members of informal subcultures, drummers and fire dancers, who regularly arrange fiery performances.