Start: 1905 Goda End: Mezhdunarodnaya or Kievskaya metros
This route revels in the startling variety of Moscow’s ever-changing skylines and volatile history, from 17th century churches to the tallest skyscrapers in Europe. As you emerge from 1905 Goda metro (use the exit near the back of the train), a revolutionary monument stands bold against the sky, a reminder that the area is famous for its part in the 1905-7 revolution, a kind of dress rehearsal for 1917. Crossing over Krasnopresnaya Ulitsa, walk through the park towards another monument, showing a well-muscled worker, unearthing a paving slab to use as a weapon.If you follow the next road on the left, you can make a detour to visit the Krasnopresnya museum, with its vivid diorama of the area during the 1905 revolution. The Tsar’s officers approach on horseback from the left, while the workers, backed by burning buildings, hurl their bricks from the right as they swarm over the Gorbaty Bridge, which you can still see nearby in front of the ‘White House’. On the way back you can loop round into Novovagankov Pereulok to see a little more of the area, like the University observatory or the gold, white and pale green St Nicholas church, standing on a hill above the factory that employed so many militant textile workers.
Returning to the little park, officially named after the ‘December Uprising’, you pass an obelisk and a seated statue of Lenin. Turn right onto Shmidtovsky Proezd, named for Nikolai Schmidt, one of the leaders of the district’s 1905 revolution. You can see a memorial to Schmidt at the start of the road. Take the second left turn into Zvenigorodskaya Ulitsa and turn right into Mantulinskaya Ulitsa, also commemorating a revolutionary hero, Fyodor Mantulin, a Bolshevik worker from the Trekhgornaya Factory, who organised the people’s militia among the textile workers in the uprising.
Go left through the spear and helmet-crowned gateway into Krasnya Presnya Park. This small, urban oasis becomes a mini wonderland at this time of year, with skating rinks, snowy bridges over frozen canals and a couple of little ice slides near yet another statue of Lenin. Heading diagonally right, you reach a white hangar that contains the museum of ice sculptures, an all-year-round display of fairy tale figures and Russian folk tale motifs, complete with coloured lights and music. The tickets seem a bit steep for a one-room exhibition (350 roubles for Moscow residents), but the museum has to cover the cost of 90 tonnes of crystal clear ice kept at a constant minus ten and thermal coats that look like giant, silver duvets.Head back towards the left to find the exit onto Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya. There is a great view from this embankment of the Stalin era skyscraper-hotel Ukraine, the World Trade Centre and the red brick Badayev brewery across the river. Roman Klein, best known as the architect of the neoclassical Pushkin Fine Arts’ Museum and the neo-gothic TsUM, designed this brewery in the 1890s. Follow the riverside right, past the expocentre, which transferred here in the 1970s from Sokolniki Park, where the first exhibition was opened by Kruschev and Nixon in 1959. New buildings have mushroomed on the site in the intervening decades, one of the latest being the whitewashed church of St Seraphim of Sarov, opened in August 2010. The traditional gold-domed architecture looks beautifully incongruous in the business district. The interior is full of light and colour, the yellow-backed frescoes depicting the life of St Seraphim, patron saint of merchants, painted wearing characteristic Russian bast slippers, made from woven rushes. Born into a merchant family in Kursk, Seraphim was actually more interested in the lives of the saints than in business. He lived for years in woodland seclusion, eventually attracting crowds of pilgrims. He told them, among other things: “Cheerfulness is not a sin. It drives away weariness, for from weariness there is sometimes dejection, and there is nothing worse than that.”
Continue to follow the river, passing under the sci-fi Bagration Bridge, into the shining megaliths of Moscow City, the unfinished financial centre. The towers of the Gorod Stolits (“Capital City”), looking like a stack of glass building blocks, include Europe’s tallest skyscraper, the “Moscow” tower. You can walk through the ground floor, complete with architectural models and a scattering of early retail outlets.
Go on along the riverbank and you come to the Naberezhnaya Tower, a three part, glass-covered skyscraper of epic proportions, gleaming in the frosty sunshine. The first thing you see as you come up the steps is Pain Quotidien’s wood and stained glass summer terrace, standing empty in the snow. Don’t worry; the main branch is downstairs, with a view towards the Fomenko Theatre and welcoming rustic tables of reclaimed wood.
From the Naberezhnaya Towers, you can either follow the road round to the right, to find Mezhdunarodnaya (“international”) metro station or you can walk back to the Bagration bridge and cross the Moscow River to Kutuzovsky Prospekt, emerging behind an equestrian statue of the eponymous Bagration, a heroic general from the Napoleonic war, waving his sword at the traffic.
Across the road, you can see the neon lights of the newly-refurbished Pioneer Cinema, to the right the orange sign of the Cat Theatre and to the left a gold-topped obelisk commemorating Moscow’s status as a hero city in the Second World War. Walk towards this monument, passing grand Stalin era apartment blocks, built on the site of an old cemetery, and cross right under the underpass. Walk through the archway and courtyard of the house beyond the underpass to reach the first kiosks of the Dorogomilovsky Market. Go on through the racks of wicker baskets or fur-selling tables with whole wolf skins
Fresh-baked Khachapuri from a clay oven, mountains of pomegranates, split to show off ruby-red insides, coriander and purple basil, dangling strings of syrup-dipped walnuts, smoked cheese and beetroot-stained pickled garlics: the market is a sensory adventure which brightens the greyest day. Returning through the kiosks, turn right along Bryanskaya Ulitsa to reach the Evropaisky Mall and Kievskaya metro.