On the weekends around Hallo ween, why not explore the spookier side of Moscow? This week's walk starts off pumpkin-hunting in the Dorogomilovsly Market and ends in the beautiful Vagankovskoe Cemetery, full of golden maple trees. In between it winds through the bizarre unfinished riverside business district and revolutionary Krasnaya Presnya. Next week visits some "haunted" houses, including the Nyekhoroshaya Kvartira ("not good flat") where the Russian writer Bulgakov lived. It was also featured in his novel "The Master and Margarita." On November 3, 1996, Paul Tatum, an American and former joint-owner of a nearby hotel was gunned down inside of the Kievskaya Metro underpass by a contract killer. Although such murders have largely become a thing of the past in the capital, the killing still evokes dark feelings of a brutal bygone era. The metro system itself, beautiful though it is, is also a memorial to the many workers who died building it in the first half of the last century. Walk past Kievsky Station towards the flower market, turning right round the corner of the giant Evropaisky Shopping Mall and left into Bryanskaya Ulitsa.
Crossing Mozhaisky Val, you soon reach the Dorogomilovsky Market on your left. Walk through the outdoor kiosks to the huge central hall, the colorful heart of the market, heaped up with pineapples, peaches and pomegrantes. If you want a traditional orange pumpkin for Hallo ween, this is the place, amongst forests of parsley, dill and coriander. (If you are planning to buy a really big pumpkin, you might want to do this walk in reverse!). Pass the horror-show of hanging carcasses in the meat section and through the gate beyond. Cross the triangular patch of grass next to the market to reach Studencheskaya Ulitsa. Turn left along it until you come to the pedestrian crosswalk. Cross the street and go through the row of houses and past a school. You will exit through a series of gates onto busy Kutuzovsky Prospekt, just next to the famous Cat Theatre.
Turn left, cross under the nearby perekhod and go back along the far side of the road. This noisy, but historic highway is home to more than Bulgakovian felines: some of the ornate Stalin era flats were built on top of the old Dorogomilovo Ce metery. Looking ahead you will see the spire of the gothic-esque Hotel Ukraine and the smaller gold-topped obelisk commemorating Moscow's status as a "hero city" in the Second World War.
The street is also indelibly associated with memories of the French invasion of 1812, when Field Marshal Kutuzov led is army against Na poleon's who was marching along this road. Sure enough, there is an equestrian statue of General Bag ration, waving his sword at the traffic. Turn left past the statue and through a small park to a tower that gives access to the footbridge over the Moscow River.
If your feet are tired, you can use the moving walkways to cross the river, or stop off at the Cafe Soho for a freshly squeezed juice. Exiting on the far side, past a disturbing, gold ‘Tree of Life' sculpture, walk along the riverside between the Expo Centre and a derelict galleon. The autumnal trees across the river are crowned by a wonderful view of the red-brick Badayev Brewery, designed in the 1890s by Roman Klein (who also designed the Pushkin Museum). Turn left through the green gates of the Krasnaya Presnya Park and follow the signs to the Gallery of Ice Sculptures. The ridiculously expensive tickets (350/470 for Russians/foreigners) can hardly be justified by the single-room exhibit of fairy-tale kitsch. But, if you have the money and the inclination, the colored lights and accompanying music certainly set off the spectral figures to great effect.
Going past the Gallery, turn right round the edge of the pond, left past the statue of Lenin and through the gates onto Mantulinskaya Ulitsa, named after a worker who was active in the 1905 Revolution.Turn right along the road, right again through the forecourt of the Mezdunarodnaya ("international") Hotel (staying parallel to the road) and past the statue of Hermes outside the World Trade Centre (whose previous director also met a tragic end in the dangerous 1990s). Cross diagonally under the perekhod and walk uphill parallel to Ulitsa 1905 Goda and then on through the "December Revolution" park. This green rectangle also commemorates the ‘failed' uprising which raged through these streets in 1905 as a kind of dress rehearsal for 1917. Another Lenin greets you at the start and you exit onto the main road near the statue of a heroic worker armed with a paving slab. Another Socialist Realist memorial faces you from in front of the Metro Station. Crossing under the road to the left of the memorial, go past the shops and turn left along Bolshaya Dekab raskaya Ulitsa to the Vagan kovskoe Cemetery.
The swaddled form of bard-poet Vladimir Vysotsky, just inside the gates to the right, is one of the cemetery's most-visited incumbents. The angel behind him presides over the murdered Kvantrishvili brothers. Sportsman and mafia Godfather, Otari Kvantrishvili was shot by a hired assassin in 1994 as he came out of the local Banya. Turning left when you are level with the far end Resurrection Church, walk through the falling maples leaves to the white marble monument of Sergei Yesenin. The alcoholic poet killed himself in 1925 at the age of thirty, having been married five times and leaving a poem written in his own blood, which ends: "To die is nothing new, but to live, of course, is no newer"... Galina Be nislavskaya, who was in love with Yesenin, shot herself on his grave and is buried under the simple slab immediately behind the monument.
This a sad and wonderful place to stroll, especially at this time of year between the gold trees and the stone crosses, and demands further exploration. On the far side of the cemetery, you can find the grave of Nikolai Bauman (plot 59), topped with a flag and hammer and sickle. Bauman (who gives his name to the Bau manskaya area) was another revolutionary. He died this week in 1905. Before you head back to the metro, don't miss the small, but beautiful Armenian Cemtery across the road or the local market mixing meat and veg with flowers and gravestones.
Next week's walk will pick up where we leave off with this week's walk, beginning just one stop along the purple line at Krasnopresnenskaya, it will explore the wonderful area around Patriarch's Ponds.