Moscow's Streets are haunted by the shadows of its turbulent history. Last week's walk finished in the atmospheric Vagankov Ceme tery near revolutionary 1905 Goda. This week's Halloween walk starts just one stop away by metro and uncovers some of the stories that lurk around the Patriarch's Pond. You can also connect the two routes by catching any bus from the "Vagankovo" stop 200 metres left of the cemetery gates. The number 79, which runs every thirteen minutes, travels along the "murder strip," named for all the night-club owners who were killed there in the 1990s. From Krasnospenskaya Metro, you can cross over and walk through the Moscow Zoo (open Tues-Sun 10-5, 150 rubles); the medieval entrance is directly opposite. Otherwise, turn right along Barrikadnaya Ulitsa and round the corner to find the back entrance, garlanded with metal animals. If you choose to walk through the Zoopark, pay a visit to the Night House, beyond the first pond on the right, which is home to the scampering creatures that inhabit the nocturnal desert wastes and bats that flicker past in the half-light. Nearby is a bridge that connects Russia's oldest zoo to the new section. When this part was being excavated, workers unearthed several hundred of Stalin's victims who had been secretly buried here. The Terrarium, on the far side of the new territory, is decorated inside with mosaics. Pythons coil behind glass, alligators float and grin and a giant anaconda basks in a fake Aztec ruin.
The alternative route also has its fair share of horrors. The Vosstania apartment block (the unmissable Stalin-era skyscraper just beyond the metro) was built, like many other buildings of its time, by gulag prisoners. Legend has it that the foreman threw one worker into the concrete while it was still wet and he is still there. The building contained 452 apartments and four gastronoms (food halls). One of these has recently re-opened as a canteen which is well worth visiting just to marvel at the original decor.
The pillared hospital across the road was reconstructed after it burned down in the fire of 1812, killing 200 wounded soldiers who were inside. Turn left along the garden ring and cross under the underpass outside the back gate to the zoo. This brings you out next to Chekhov's house, the first of many literary memorials along the route. The house-museum is open Tues-Sat, 10-5 and costs 40 rubles and includes some moving details. The plaque on the front door still reads "Doctor A.P. Chekhov." Inside, the austere bedroom and possessions provide a glimpse of the celebrated writer's life. "Moscow... makes my flesh creep," he wrote in 1888.
The first house you pass after turning left into Malaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa is the Tunisian Embassy. This mansion used to belong to Lavrenty Beria, head of Stalin's Secret Service. This street has several older houses including, towards the far end at number 12, a grand eighteenth century estate which was as a model for the stately home where the ball is held in Eugene Onegin. Pushkin describes "shadows moving to and fro" inside the windows. Nearby, the tall yellow-coloured Church of the Great Ascension is where Pushkin married the beautiful Natalya Goncharova in 1931. According to legend, the poet was disturbed by "bad omens" (dropped wedding rings, for example); strangely, his marriage lasted six years before he was killed in a duel over his wife's honour. When you are level with the church, turn left to visit the Gorky House museum.
This fantastical mansion with its pink orchid frieze is open Weds-Sun 11-5 and entrance is free. The incredible interior is haunted by three distinct presences: the architect, Shektel, designed many details of the underwater-scape ground floor with the sculpted staircase leading up to a jellyfish lamp and pillar topped by writhing silver lizards. Ryabushinsky, the merchant who commissioned the house, was an old believer and had a secret chapel built in the attic which you can access via a separate staircase. The writer, Maxim Gorky, who lived (reluctantly) in the house during his last six years, is also an unhappy ghost here. His place is marked at the dining room table with a teacup, his glasses still lie on the desk and the display upstairs includes his final note, written in blue pencil while he was dying.
In the servants' buildings behind the Gorky house, there is a much less visited museum with similar opening hours commemorating the writer of historical novels, Alexei Tolstoy (distant relative of Leo). The crumbling rooms and strange furnishings are quite atmospheric, including lion-armed chairs to help create the era of Peter the Great, and prayer wheels standing on toads' backs. Walking on between the whitewashed seventeenth century Granatny Palace and the statue of the poet Blok, take the right fork along Ulitsa Spiri donovka and follow it until you come to the gothic castle of the Morozov mansion at number 17, an early Shektel masterpiece with turrets and dragon gargoyles. Take the next turning on the right to reach the Patriarch's Pond.
This area has had a long-standing association with the supernatural. In medieval times, before Patriarch Job drained the area to create fishponds, the area was known as "Goat Swamp" and said to be haunted. At the left hand end, you will find bronze panels illustrating Ivan Krylov's fables while straight ahead along Bolshoi Patriarshy Pereulok, you will find the colourful entrance to the colorful Cafe Margarita.
The famous opening scenes of Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita," where the devil appears and the critic Berlioz is decapitated by a tram, take place in this area. Walking past the cafe, left through an arch, out onto the busy garden ring and right, you come to Bulgakov's old house at number 10. There are two museums here that are open from 1pm. The second door on the left gives access to Bulgakov's flat where there is a state literary museum (entry 30 rubles) while the first door, under two bronze owls, leads to the Bulgakovsky Dom, complete with a wonderful little cafe. The Satire Theatre, in the nearby Aqua rium Gar dens, was the model for Bul gakov's ‘Variety Theatre' where the De vil's audience sud denly find them selves na ked. The public toilet in the right hand corner behind the Starlight Diner also features in the novel!