12 Best Sights in Kropotkinsky District, Moscow

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Kropotkinskaya Fodor's choice

One of the finest art museums in Russia, the Pushkin is famous for its collection of works by Gauguin, Cézanne, and Picasso, among other masterpieces. Founded by Ivan Vladimirovich Tsvetayev (1847–1913) of Moscow State University, father of poet Marina Tsvetaeva, the museum was originally established as a teaching aid for art students, which explains why some of the collection is made up of copies. The original building dates from 1895 to 1912 and was first known as the Alexander III Museum. It was renamed for Pushkin in 1937, on the centennial of the poet's death.

The first-floor exhibit halls display a fine collection of ancient Egyptian art (Hall 1); Greece and Rome are also well represented. The museum's great masterpieces include a fine concentration of Italian works from the 15th century (Room 5), among them Botticelli's The Annunciation, Tomaso's The Assassination of Caesar, Guardi's Alexander the Great at the Body of the Persian King Darius, and Sano di Pietro's The Beheading of John the Baptist. Rembrandt's Portrait of an Old Woman is in Room 10, and paintings by Murillo, Rubens, and Van Dyck are in Room 11. There are also frequent exhibits of collections on loan from other prominent European art museums.

Tolstoy House Estate Museum

Kropotkinskaya Fodor's choice

Tolstoy bought this house in 1882, at the age of 54, and spent nine winters here with his family. In summer he preferred his country estate in Yasnaya Polyana. The years here were not particularly happy ones. By this time Tolstoy had already experienced a religious conversion that prompted him to disown his earlier great novels, including War and Peace and Anna Karenina. His conversion sparked a feud among his own family members, which manifested itself even at the dining table: Tolstoy's wife, Sofia Andreevna, would sit at one end with their sons, while the writer would sit with their daughters at the opposite end.

The ground floor has several of the children's bedrooms and the nursery where Tolstoy's seven-year-old son died of scarlet fever in 1895, a tragedy that haunted the writer for the rest of his life. Also here are the dining rooms and kitchen, as well as the Tolstoys' bedroom, in which you can see the small desk used by his wife to meticulously copy all of her husband's manuscripts by hand.

Upstairs you'll find the Tolstoys' receiving room, where they held small parties and entertained guests, who included most of the leading figures of their day. The grand piano in the corner was played by such greats as Rachmaninoff and Rimsky-Korsakov. When in this room, you should ask the attendant to play the enchanting recording of Tolstoy greeting a group of schoolchildren, followed by a piano composition written and played by him. Also on this floor is an Asian-style den and Tolstoy's study, where he wrote his last novel, Resurrection.

Although electric lighting and running water were available at the time to even the lesser nobility, Count Tolstoy chose to forgo both, believing it better to live simply. The museum honors his desire and shows the house as it was when he lived there. Inside the museum, each room has signs in English explaining its significance and contents.

21 ul. Lva Tolstogo, Moscow, 119034, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 200 R, Tues., Thurs. 12--8; Wed., Fri., Sat., Sun. 10--6, Closed Mon. and last Fri. of the month

Cathedral of Christ The Savior


Moscow's largest Orthodox cathedral has a colorful past of destruction and reconstruction. Built between 1839 and 1883 as a memorial to the Russian troops who fell fighting Napoléon's forces in 1812, the cathedral was for more than a century the largest single structure in Moscow, and it dominated the city's skyline. It took almost 50 years to build what only a few hours would destroy: on December 5, 1931, the cathedral was blown up. Under Stalin, the site had been designated for a mammoth new "Palace of Soviets," intended to replace the Kremlin as the seat of the Soviet government. Plans called for topping the 1,378-foot-tall structure with a 300-foot statue of Lenin that would have spent more time above the clouds than in plain view if the plans had ever materialized. World War II delayed construction, and the entire project was scrapped when it was discovered that the land along the embankment was too damp to support such a heavy structure.

The site lay empty and abandoned until 1958, when the Moscow Pool, one of the world's largest outdoor swimming pools, was built. Divided into several sections, for training, competition, diving, and public swimming, it was heated and kept open all year long, even in the coldest days of winter. The pool was connected to the locker rooms by covered tunnels, and you could reach it by swimming through them. The pool was dismantled in 1994. Then—in perhaps one of architectural history's stranger twists—the cathedral was resurrected in 1997 from the ruins at a cost of more than $150 million.

You enter a hallway lined with writing that surrounds the central chamber. These marble panels covered in prerevolution Russian script describe the Napoléonic invasion of Russia in 1812. Hundreds of battles are detailed, beginning with the French army's first steps into Russian territory and ending with Napoléon's downfall in Paris and the reinstatement of peace in Europe. The immense main hall is covered in frescoes. Look straight up into the central cupola to see a dramatic painting of the Holy Father with baby Jesus in his hands. Across from the figures is the word "elohim" (meaning "God") written in Hebrew. Off to one side are two thrones behind a short fence. These are symbolic seats for Saint Nicholas the Miracle-Maker and the legendary Russian war hero Prince Alexander Nevsky, who has been honored as a saint by the Orthodox Church since his death in 1243.

The cathedral has been at the center of several controversies. A consumer watchdog group has accused the fund that oversees the church of profiting on the Orthodox Church's property by allowing a car wash, parking lot, dry cleaner, conference center, and café to operate underneath the huge structure. In 2012, the all-female, Russian punk band Pussy Riot performed a now-notorious protest concert inside the church. The stunt landed three of the members behind bars after a trial critics claimed was the Kremlin's harsh punishment for dissent.

15 ul. Volkhonka, Moscow, 119019, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Mon 1--5, Tue.- Sun 10--5

Recommended Fodor's Video

Church of St. Nicholas in Khamovniki


Built between 1679 and 1682 and remaining open throughout the years of Communist rule, what looks like a frosted gingerbread house has been well preserved. The elegant bell tower is particularly impressive, and five gilded domes sit atop a white facade with tangerine and forest-green trim. In fact, the design was meant to suggest a festive piece of woven cloth, for weavers who settled in considerable numbers in this quarter in the 17th century commissioned the building of this church. The interior, containing a wealth of icons, is one of the most ornate in the city.

2 ul. Lva Tolstogo St., Moscow, 119034, Russia

Conception Convent


Though this working monastery was founded in the 16th century, only the redbrick Gate Church remains of the original buildings. The monastery was established by the last surviving son of Ivan the Terrible, in what amounted to a plea to God for an heir (hence its name). He and his wife failed to have a son, however, and Boris Godunov became the next Russian leader. A sparkling church, with star-spangled silver domes and gold-rimmed eaves, is a recent addition, dating to 2010.

2-y Zachatyevskiy per., 2, Moscow, 119034, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Daily 7--8

Multimedia Art Museum


Rotating collections of modern art, photography, video, and sculpture by an impressive array of mainly Russian and European artists change frequently. The museum is operated in conjunction with the Moscow House of Photography and often hosts guest lecturers, film premieres, and master classes.

16 ul. Ostrozhenka, Moscow, 119034, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 500 R, Tues. – Sun. 12--9, Closed Mon.

Pashkov House


Designed by Vasily Bazhenov, one of Russia's greatest architects, this mansion was erected between 1784 and 1786 for the wealthy Pashkov family. The central building is topped by a round belvedere and flanked by two service wings. In the 19th century it housed the Rumyantsev collection of art and rare manuscripts. Following the 1917 revolution, the museum was closed and the art collection was transferred to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art. The manuscripts were donated to the Russian State Library, which now owns this building. Now, after 20 years of restoration, Pashkov House is open, but only to those with a State Library card.

Pertsov House


One of the finest examples of Moscow art nouveau was built in 1905–07 by the architects Schnaubert and Zhukov. The facade of the steep-roofed and angled building, which is closed to the public, is covered in colorful mosaics. Before the revolution, Peter Pertsov and his wife lived in an apartment in the building and rented out studios for artists.

Pushkin Memorial Museum


Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837) never lived here and probably never even visited this fine yellow mansion built in the 19th century by architect Afanasy Grigoriev. Even so, several rooms surrounding a beautiful atrium showcase the author's sketches, letters, and personal effects.

12/2 ul. Prechistenka, Moscow, 119034, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 200 R, Daily 10--6, Thurs. 12--9, Closed Mon. and last Fri. of the month

Russian State Library


Once called Biblioteka Imeni Lenina, or the Lenin Library, this is Russia's largest library, with more than 30 million books and manuscripts. The modern building was built between 1928 and 1940. Bronze busts of famous writers and scientists adorn the main facade. The portico, supported by square black pillars, is approached by a wide ceremonial staircase. A 12-foot statue of Dostoyevsky was erected in front of the library in 1997 in honor of the 850th anniversary of Moscow. The great novelist, sculpted by Alexander Rukavishnikov, sits where the Soviets once considered erecting a giant Lenin head. In theory, anyone can visit the library as a day visitor, but you need some persistence to fill in forms and deal with the bureaucracy (bring your passport). It's arguably worth it, though, to see the grand main hall.

3/5 ul. Vozdvizhenka, Moscow, 119019, Russia
495-609--9590-Excursion office 10--6
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Mon. - Sat. 9--8, 700 R, 1400 R for non-Russians, Closed Sun. and last Mon. of the month

The Museum of Private Collections


A worthy assortment of impressionist, postimpressionist, and modern art, as well as Russian icons, are spread out over two floors and include paintings, sculptures, and drawings by Russian and European artists collected during the Soviet era. Some of the more notable pieces include those from the collection of the museum's major contributors, Ilya Silberstein. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibits.

10 ul. Volkhonka, Moscow, 121019, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 200 R, Tue.- Sun. 12--8 , Thur., Fri. 12--9, Closed Mon., Tues.

Tolstoy Memorial Museum - Literary Exposition


Architect Afanasy Grigoriev designed this mansion, a fine example of the Moscow Empire style (1822–24). The minor poet Lopukhin, a distant relative of Tolstoy's, lived here, and the mansion was converted into a museum in 1920. The exhibit halls contain a rich collection of manuscripts and photographs of Tolstoy and his family, as well as pictures and paintings of Tolstoy's Moscow. Even if you don't know Russian, you can learn about the writer's life through the photographs, and in each room there's a typed handout in English to help explain its holdings. Note the picture of 19th-century Moscow in the second hall (on the left-hand wall). The huge cathedral taking up more than half the photograph is the Cathedral of Christ Our Savior—the original 19th-century structure that was torn down and subsequently re-created.

11/8 ul. Prechistenka, Moscow, 119034, Russia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 250 R, Tues., Thur. 12--8, Wed., Fri., Sat., Sun. 10--6, Closed Mon. and last Fri. of the month