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The Arbat, Old and New
Two of downtown Moscow's most interesting and important avenues are the Arbat (also known as the Stary Arbat, or Old Arbat) and Novy Arbat (New Arbat), which are two more spokelike routes leading away from the Kremlin. Stary Arbat is closed to all traffic and revered by Muscovites, who usually refer to it simply as "the Arbat." The area is an attractive, cobbled pedestrian precinct with many gift shops, cafés, and kiosks selling all manner of souvenirs. It's a carnival of portrait artists, poets, and musicians, as well as the enthusiastic admirers of their work. One of the oldest sections of Moscow, the Arbat dates from the 16th century, when it was the beginning of the road that led from the Kremlin to the city of Smolensk. At that time it was also the quarter where court artisans lived, and several of the surrounding streets still recall this in such names as Plotnikov (Carpenter), Serebryany (Silversmith), and Kalashny (Pastry Cook). Early in the 19th century the Arbat became a favorite district of the aristocracy, and a century later it became a favorite shopping street.
Novy Arbat has both a different history and spirit. For almost 30 years it was named Kalinin prospekt, in honor of Mikhail Kalinin, an old Bolshevik whose prestige plummeted after 1991. The stretch from the Kremlin to Arbatskaya Ploshchad has been given back its prerevolutionary name of ulitsa Vozdvizhenka. The second section—which begins where Vozdvizhenka ends and runs west for about a mile to the Moskva River—is now called Novy Arbat. In contrast to ulitsa Vozdvizhenka, which has retained some of its prerevolutionary charm, and the Arbat, which is actively re-creating the look of its past, Novy Arbat is a modern thoroughfare. It is now something of an entertainment area, with flashy casinos and lots of decent restaurants.
You can reach the Arbat via the Arbatskaya, Smolenskaya, and Biblioteka Imeni Lenina metro stations.
The Arbat, Old and New at a Glance
- Andrei Bely Apartment Museum (Muzey-kvartira Andreya Belovo)
- Arbatskaya Ploshchad (Arbat Square)
- Church of St. Simon the Stylite (Tserkov Simeona Stolpnika)
- Church of the Transfiguration on the Sands (Khram Spasa Preobrazheniya na Peskakh)
- Dom Druzhby (Friendship House)
- Dom Knigi (House of Books)
- Gogol statue
Elsewhere in Moscow
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