Settled in the 11th century, Kitay-gorod is one of the oldest parts of Moscow. Although the name translates as “Chinatown,” it probably derives from kita (wattle), referring to the wall that surrounded this early Kremlin suburb. Today, remains of an old city wall and colorful churches are scattered throughout this ancient neighborhood.
Start at Teatralny Proezd. Walk through the gated walkway, (1) Tretyakovsky proezd, which leads into Kitay-gorod. Turn right to head west on Nikolskaya Ulitsa.
The ornate building is the (2) Synodal Printing House (Nikolskaya Ulitsa 15), where Russia’s first book was printed in 1563. The (3) Zaikonospassky Monastery (Nikolskaya Ulitsa 7-9) refers to the busy icon trade that also took place here.
Turn left on Bogoyavlensky Pereulok and head south, looking on the right for the Moscow baroque (4) Epiphany Cathedral (Bogoyavlensky Pereulok 2), which was built in the 1690s. Ulitsa Ilyinka was Moscow’s financial heart in the 18th and 19th centuries, as evidenced by the old (5) Stock Exchange (Ulitsa Ilyinka 6) on the corner. Turn right and head toward Red Square.
Turn left and walk down Khrustalny Pereulok. The entire block is occupied by the old Merchants’ Court, or (6) Gostiny Dvor, which is now filled with shops and restaurants.
Take another left and head east on Ulitsa Varvarka, which is crowded with tiny churches, old homes, and an up-and-coming luxury hotel. The pink and white (7) St. Barbara’s Church (Ulitsa Varvarka 2) is a merchant’s church built in the 18th century. The (8) Old English House (Ulitsa Varvarka 4a), white with peaked wooden roofs, was the residence of England’s first emissaries to Russia.
Built in 1698, the (9) Church of St. Maxim the Blessed (Ulitsa Varvarka 8) is now a folk-art exhibition hall. Next along is the pointed bell tower of the 17th-century (10) Monastery of the Sign (Ulitsa Varvarka 6) incorporating the monks’ building and a golden-domed cathedral. Tucked in here is the small but interesting (11) Romanov Chambers in Zaryadye Museum (Ulitsa Varvarka 10), devoted to the lives of these high-ranking nobles. The colorful (12) St. George’s Church (Ulitsa Varvarka 12) dates from 1658.
Cross Ulitsa Varvarka and walk left up Ipatevsky Pereulok. The enchanting (13) Church of the Holy Trinity in Nikitniki (Ipatyevsky Pereulok) is an exquisite example of Russian baroque hidden amidst the overbearing facades of the surrounding buildings. The interior frescoes are fantastic.
Head east on Ipatevsky Pereulok out to Staraya Ploshchad. At the southern end, (14) All Saints Church in the Kulishka (Slavyanskaya 2) was built in the first half of the 17th century. The original 14th-century wooden church was built on this site to commemorate the battle of Kulikovo. Some remains of the (15) old city wall (corner of Ulitsa Varvarka and Staraya Ploshchad) can be seen in the underground passage, which is also the entrance to the Kitay-gorod metro stop.
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