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Sightseeing Moscow

Alexander Garden

Alexander Garden stretches from just outside the Iverskiye Gate of the Kitai-gorod wall, down the slope of the Borovitsky Hill and along the entire span of the Kremlin`s western wall from Revolution Square (Ploshchad Revolyutsii) to the Kremlin Embankment (Kremlyovskaya Naberezhnaya). Formerly, this was the bed of the Neglinnaya River, and a moat running from Red Square linked the Neglinnaya to the Moscow River, thus encompassing the Kremlin in water and making it an unassailable fortress in the old days.

After the Patriotic War of 1812, when Moscow was being restored, the moat was filled up and the Neglinnaya River was encapsulated in a pipe. In 1820, Alexander I ordered that gardens be laid out in the area. The recovery work was led by the outstanding Russian architect Osip (Joseph) Bove.

The initial name of the grounds was the Kremlin Gardens (the present-day name was given in 1856 after the coronation of Alexander II), with three discrete gardens sharing a matching layout and landscape design. The Upper Garden, extending from Revolution Square to the Troitskiye Gate, was the first to open in 1821. The Middle Garden covers the area between the Troitskiye and Borovitskiye Gates. The Lower Garden has the shortest span and was the last to open in 1823, running from the Borovitskiye Gate to the Kremlin Embankment. Today, there are no promenades in the Lower Garden and it is closed to the public. Three walkways were laid out along the Kremlin Wall and Manege Square (Manezhnaya Ploshchad) through the Upper and Middle Gardens. Numerous species of trees (lindens, maples, blue spruces) and ornamental bushes (lilac, jasmine, bird cherry trees, acacia, hawthorn) decorate the lawns between them and blossom at different times of the year. A two-hundred year old oak tree is extant in the Garden. In the spring and summer, visitors can enjoy breathtaking flower beds of tulips and roses.

Alexander Garden has always been a favourite haunt of both Muscovites and Moscow`s guests. Apart from that, it is a reminder of many important historical events.

The Garden right outside the Kremlin Walls, in the very heart of Moscow, served as a symbol of Moscow`s recovery and the liberation of Europe after Napoleon`s defeat. The massive cast iron gate to the Upper Garden overlooking the Historical Museum, made by the design of Yevgeny Paskal, is just one of the attractions reminiscent of the victory. In 1841, a grotto dubbed The Ruins was built by the design of Osip Bove at the foot of the Middle Arsenal Tower in the midst of the Upper Garden.It was decorated with debris from the Moscow buildings that had been destroyed by Napoleon`s army. At one time, an orchestra even played here for the strolling public.

On July 10, 1914, an obelisk was set up in Alexander Garden to commemorate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty broadly celebrated in Russia in 1913. The four-sided peaked obelisk of grey Finnish granite was crowned with a double-headed eagle, also featuring a lion with a shield and a sword and the Romanov coat of arms.Below, the names of all the Romanovs were listed and the coats of arms of all grand principalities, provinces and regions of the Russian Empire. Initially, the obelisk was erected at the entrance to the Upper Garden, but after the October revolution the names of the Romanov family were obliterated and replaced with those of outstanding revolutionaries and thinkers. In 1966, the obelisk was moved to the center of the Upper Garden and set up near the Ruins grotto.

In 1967, a memorial was built in the Upper Garden to mark the 25th anniversary of the defeat of fascist troops near Moscow — the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where they buried unknown Red Army soldiers killed in 1941 at the 41st kilometer mark on the road to Leningrad in the Battle of Moscow. Next to the Tomb, an eternal flame brought from the Field of Mars in Leningrad burns. Since 1993, the memorial has been Post No. 1 of the Honour Guard, with an hourly change. Traditionally, crowds gather here on Victory Day to honour the heroic deed of the Russian people.

Opposite the gate to Alexander Garden, a monument to Marshal Georgy Zhukov by sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov was set up to mark the 50th anniversary of the victory.

In 1996, an artificial pond with fountains and sculptures was built along the Upper Garden fence to represent the bed of the Neglinnaya River (sculptures by Zurab Tsereteli).

The capital`s travel agencies offer excursions around Alexander Garden.

Manezhnaya Ploshchad
Alexandrovsky Sad metro station (exit up to the Garden grounds).

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