In former times the Kitay-gorod and the Kremlin were called the Great Posad (settlement). These are the most ancient districts of Moscow. The name “Kitay-gorod” entitles the part of the metropolis within the walls of the Kitay-gorod that includes such streets as Varvarka, Nikoskaya, Ilyinka and the region Zaryadye.
This outstanding area was created for security reasons. The rich Great Posad needed protection at old times. In the period from the XIV till the XV centuries it was burnt to the ground four times after raids of the Tatars. To protect the city the Muscovites surrounded it with a graff and put an earth mound, the crest of which was double-stockaded. The space between those parts was filled with stones. This kind of a bank of fortress was named the Kitay-gorod. Apparently, it was a Turkic word “katai” that means “castle” mispronounced in a Russian manner (although there are many other interesting versions of the origin of this name).
They began the construction during the rule of the minor Czar Ivan IV in 1535. The process was coordinated by Petrok Fryazin; and the foundation stone was laid by Metropolitan Daniel. The strong defensive wall was 2.5 km long, started from the Arsenal tower going to the Lubianka square and further it made a sharp turn to the Moskva river and the Beklemishev tower of the Kremlin. As compared with the Kremlin walls the Kitai-gorod wall was lower (6.5 meters), but much thicker (6 meters). It was easier to have heavy artillery-type weapon set on it. The construction continued throughout 3 years and the installation was performed up to the state of the latest achievements in the fortification science of the period. The barricade and the towers stood the most powerful fire of the artillery weapons of any kind.
As centuries went by Moscow lived its life, and the Kitay-gorod was not only its trade and governmental center, but also scientific and cultural one. In the XVIII century there were 2100 trading shops out of 4500 of the total number of Moscow shops. This territory also housed such state institutions as the Toll (Mytny) Yard, the Ambassador (Posolsky) Yard, the Merchant (Gostiny) Yard. The Printing Yard and later the Synodal Printing House was situated right here. For the period from 1707 till 1717 they established 8 private drug stores in Moscow, 7 of which were located in the Kitay-gorod. The Slavic Greek Latin Academy was opened in the Zaiconospassky monastery; and the quarters of the Land (Zemskoy) Regiment (Prikaz) were occupied by the Moscow University during the rule of czarina Elizabeth of Russia (Elizaveta Petrovna).
Gradually the borders of Ancient Rus strengthened, and the Kitay-gorod lost its military significance for Moscow. In the XVIII century first plans of demolishing the Kitay-Gorod wall appeared, but Tsar Alexander I didn’t give his consent. In the late XIX century Moscow architect Sergei Rodionov realized a major restoration of the protective system. In 1935 the capital suffered "the building fever". They demolished many old buildings in Moscow and built new ones in their places. A substantial part of the Kitay-gorod wall was also destructed. Its remains can be seen near the hotel "Metropol". Part of the foundation made of white stone was dug by the builders when they constructed the underground passage near the metro station "Kitay-gorod". After a few years Russian society realized that the Kitay-gorod wall was a unique historical monument, and it was partially restored.
The Kitay-gorod was a hive of activity in any era. The state and city administration centers, such as regiments, banks, various Russian wholesale firms and agencies abroad took their residence here. In Soviet days the area concentrated the Communist party’s and the state institutions, including the Central Committee of the CPSU. Nowadays the Kitay-gorod hospitably "sheltered" offices of corporations from different countries, insurance companies and banks. The Administration of the President of the Russian Federation is also situated here.
Tour 3: Kitay-gorod