Kitai-gorod ( _ru. Китай-город) is a business district within Moscow, Russia, encircled by mostly-reconstructed medieval walls. It is separated from the Moscow Kremlin by Red Square. It does not constitute a district (raion), as there are "no" resident voters, thus, municipal elections are not possible. Rather, the territory is managed directly by Central Administrative Okrug authorities (since 2003).


The etymology of the name is unclear. "Gorod" is the Russian for "town," whereas "Kitai" is the Russian for China (cf. Cathay). Accordingly, the popular translation might be "Chinatown." Robert Wallace asserts in "The Rise of Russia" (New York: Time-Life, 1967) that the term relates to the rough-hewn defensive bulwark built around the quarter, based upon woven wicker baskets filled with earth or rock, thus "Kitai-Gorod" aims at something like "Basketville". Some scholars tend to derive "Kitai" from an old word for the wooden stakes used in construction of the quarter's wallsFact|date=June 2007: if we liberally interpret "stakes" as "wythes" or "wickets," this agrees quite closely with Wallace's signification.


The walls were erected in 1536-39 by an Italian architect known under the Russified name Petrok Maly and originally featured 13 towers and six gates. They were as thick as they were high, the average being six meters in both dimensions. The last of the towers were demolished in the 1930s, but small portions of the wall still stand. One of two remaining parts of the wall is located in Zaryadye and the other near the exit from the Okhotny Ryad station of Moscow Metro behind the Hotel Metropol.

Recently the Moscow mayor announced plans for a full-scale restoration of the wall. City officials also plan to close Kitai-gorod to automobile traffic. Since 1995, the wall has been extensively rebuilt, and a new tower has been added. Inside the tower are a couple of restaurants and bars.


Apart from Red Square, the quarter is bordered by the chain of Central Squares of Moscow, notably Theatre Square (in front of Bolshoi Theatre), Lubyanka Square (in front of the KGB headquarters), Slavyanskaya Square. Bourse Square on Ilyinka Street is situated entirely within Kitai-gorod.


Kitai-gorod, developing as a trading area, was known as the most prestigious business area of Moscow. Its three main streets — Varvarka, Ilyinka, and Nikolskaya — are lined with banks, shops, and storehouses. Two of the most beautiful churches in Moscow, [ Nicholas at Nikitniki] (1653) and St. Nicholas the Great Cross (1689, destroyed in 1933) at one time dominated the district's skyline.

Nikolskaya Street is famous for being the site of Moscow's first university, the Slavic Greek Latin Academy, housed in extant Zaikonospassky monastery (1660s). Another monastery cathedral, the main church of Epiphany Monastery (1690s), stands in the middle of Kitai-gorod in an eponimous Bogoyavlensky Lane. 18th legacy survives in the exterior walls of otherwise rebuilt Gostiny Dvor (Guest Merchant's Court) by Giacomo Quarenghi.

In the 19th century, the Red Square was lined by a neoclassical domed structure of Upper Trade Rows by Joseph Bove. However, in 1890s it was torn down and replaced with a new, eclectic Upper Trading Rows (by Alexander Pomerantsev and Vladimir Shukhov) and similar Middle Trade Rows (by Roman Klein, scheduled for demolition in 2007). The rest of Kitai-gorod was densely filled with offices, warehouses and hotels, to the point where real estate developers had to build streets, not buildings - like the Tretyakovsky Proyezd project by Pavel Tretyakov and Alexander Kaminsky.

In the same 1890s, developers consolidated large land lots on the perimeter of Kitai-gorod. Savva Mamontov has launched an ambitious civic center, built around an opera hall, which was completed as Metropol Hotel in 1907, the largest early Art Nouveau building in Moscow with artwork by Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Golovin and Nikolai Andreev. Eastern segment (Staraya Square) was rebuilt by Moscow Merchant Society, with a late Art Nouveau "Boyarsky Dvor" offices (by Fyodor Schechtel) and neoclassical 4, Staraya Square (by Vladimir Sherwood, Jr., 1912-1914) which later housed Central Committee of the Communist Party.

The present-day offices and clock-tower of Constitutional Court of Russia were financed by Northern Insurance Socity (1910-1912) and built by Ivan Rerberg, Marian Peretiatkovich and Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky; this project is also notable as the first professional employer of young Ilya Golosov.

Since early 1990s, many historical buildings are being torn down or rebuilt by facadist methodes, tearing down everything beyond the street facade. Apart from the Gostiny Dvor, recent losses include the Tyoplye Trade Rows (Теплые ряды, demolished 1996-1997) and recently reopened block at 10, Nikolskaya Street. Degree of destruction cannot be assessed in full, since many properties are operated by the federal government and closed to general public.


A whole quarter of Kitai-gorod adjacent to the Moskva River and known as Zaryadye, was demolished in three rounds (1930s, late 1940s, 1960s), sparing only those structures that were classified as historic monuments. These include Cathedral of the Sign (1679-84), the Church of All Saints (1680s), St. George Church on Pskov Hill (1657), St. Maksim Church (1698), St. Anna's Church at the Corner (1510s), St. Barbara Church (1796-1804), the Old English Embassy (1550s), and the 16th-century Romanov boyar residence. There is no other such cluster of old edifices left anywhere else in Moscow. The district's main structure, Rossiya Hotel (1967) is being demolished, making way for a new round of development.

ee also

* Kitay-Gorod (Metro)

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