Monuments to famous people are one of Moscow's defining features. It is almost impossible to walk down the road without stumbling over a statue of a writer or revolutionary memorial. Since Minin and Pozharsky appeared in front of St. Basil's in 1818, sculptures have been springing up all over town. Celebrities can fall out of favour too, of course. This walk starts with a stroll through the "graveyard of fallen idols", now the Muzeon Park of Arts. The tour continues across the river, visiting museums and sculptors' houses hidden among the lanes near Prechistenka. The statue of Lenin opposite Oktyabrskaya metro station, erected in 1985, was one of the last in a series of similar monuments, scattered across Russia in every town and city. Turn away from Lenin down Ulitsa Krymsky Val, passing the Academy of Art and Sculpture on your right. When you reach the gates of Gorky Park, cross under the road and walk straight ahead into the Muzeon Park of Arts, dotted with interesting stone shapes. Outside the doors of the New Tretyakov Gallery, you will see Yevgeny Vuchetich's iconic "Let Us Beat Swords into Ploughshares", a copy of the version in the UN garden in New York. Head for the tent-shaped ticket hut and enter the sculpture garden (open daily 9 am-9 pm, 100/20 roubles for foreigners/Russians). You can wander here for hours and there is a café if you need a break.
The most famous exhibits include the towering Felix Dzerzhinsky, the notorious, torturing founder of the Bolshevik secret police. This bronze monster, also by Vuchetich, was erected in Lubyanka in front of the infamous prison in 1958 and torn down in 1991, when it ended up here. Keeping him company are more Lenins, together with vandalised granite Stalins and marble Brezhnevs. A third piece by Vuchetich, further into the garden, represents a muscled figure in aluminium, who appears to be wrestling his way out of a rock.
Behind this, three men standing together are the characteristically dynamic work of Vera Mukhina, whose giant "Worker and Peasant Girl" last week returned to a new, taller pedestal at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. Mukhina also worked on the tall Maxim Gorky. Among the modern pieces that help make this garden such an interesting place, a gulag of caged heads behind Stalin represents the victims of repression. When you've had enough, exit through the gate in the far left corner, behind the café, and turn right along the riverbank. The colossal Peter the Great standing on an island in the water is by Georgian artist Zurab Tsereteli.
Cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the rebuilt Christ the Saviour Cathedral (whose bronze reliefs are also by Tsereteli). Keeping the cathedral on your left, you will pass the door to a canteen, marked "Trapeznaya", where you can get a cheap hot chocolate or apple pie. To the right is a colonnaded monument to Alexander II.
Turn left on Ulitsa Volkhonka, cross and turn right at the huge intersection into Gogolyevsky Bulvar on the far side, behind Kropotkinskaya metro station. Note the monument to Friedrich Engels across the road. Take the first left off the boulevard, through the white fairy tale figures, along Gagarinsky Pereulok. The second right turn, marked by a surreal bronze, leads to the Burganov Dom, a magical collection of bizarre sculptures (daily 11 am-7 pm; 120/60 roubles). Alexander Burganov is a modern allegorical sculptor in the Tsereteli vein. His best-known works are the golden "Princess Turandot" fountain and the kitschy Pushkin and Natasha on Ulitsa Arbat. Even sceptics will enjoy this museum for its unusual layout and variety.
At No. 31 on the same road (hidden in the courtyard between Nos. 27 and 33, left through the gates), you can see the studio that belonged to the Soviet sculptor Nikolai Andreyev. Andreyev created the introspective sculpture of Gogol, currently slumped outside Gogol's house on Nikitsky Bulvar. Go back to the crossroads and turn right along Sivtsev Vrazhek, walking through a Burganov sculpture garden with characteristic flying horses and disembodied limbs.
Turn left along Starokonyushenny Pereulok, between the Canadian and Cambodian embassies, until you come out on Prechistensky Pereulok. To the left you can see a statue of Vera Mukhina, who lived on this lane. Turn right to find her studio, tucked behind a modern house, at No. 5a. The yellow building has a plaque showing Mukhina holding her most famous work. The house, with its tangle of apple trees and huge skylight, is slowly being restored and should one day be a museum. Go on along the road and turn left at the old church into Bolshoi Levshinsky Pereulok. At No. 10, on the right, you will find a house-museum dedicated to another Russian and Soviet woman sculptor, Anna Golubkina (open Wed.-Sun., noon-5 pm; 100/200 roubles).
Golubkina designed the "wave" relief over the doorway of the Chekhov MKhAT Theatre. This museum has further examples of her elemental work. The lumpy figure of "Earth" and two writhing statues are designed to frame a fireplace. Her oeuvre is impressive for its variety of media and mood. Golubkina's studio, upstairs, is a unique creative record of the sculptor's work. Tools, a tub of clay and an unfinished wooden Tolstoy are surrounded by completed works. The small recital room next door is used as a concert venue. Retrace your steps as far as the first crossroads and turn left along Denezhny Pereulok. Smolenskaya metro station is on the far side of Ulitsa Arbat, near the Pushkin monument.
Landmark of the week
Monument to Alexander II
The memorial in Christ the Saviour Cathedral's garden was completed in 2005 by Alexander Rukavishnikov, whose sculptures are also in Muzeon. Alexander II was the ruling tsar when the first Christ the Saviour Cathedral was built and a late 19th-century memorial to him used to stand nearby. His rule is celebrated for the end of serfdom, as the inscription on the pedestal remembers: "He freed millions of peasants from centuries of slavery."