On July 1 last year, with the stroke of a pen, Moscow grew by 2.4 times and went from the 11th biggest city in the world to the sixth in terms of space.
The reason evoked for the enlargement of the capital was to avoid it becoming too homocentric, as well as to help resolve transportation, housing and ecological issues by moving key elements of the federal government to the added territory, which is being called New Moscow.
The space taken from the Moscow region includes a range of cities and villages situated in the southwest, between the Varshavskoye and Kievskoye shosses, as well as the Skolkovo technopolis, the residential area situated in Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye and even a venerable stud farm at the end of Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Shosse — the road on which President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev live.
But New Moscow is not just about politics and business. There are plenty of alluring places that can motivate a center dweller to pass the Moscow Ring Road and begin exploring.
The old days of the empire are reflected in numerous historical estates, while the modern world shines in the steel and glass of the innovation city. Meanwhile, traditional cozy dachas border fenced-in enclaves containing the spacious and often ostentatious homes of the elite. Whichever you prefer, the New Moscow is fraught with contrasts and places of interest.
The dacha complex of Peredelkino, located eight kilometers from the MKAD, is an epicenter of classical Russian countryside culture. You can get there in 23 minutes on the commuter train from Kievsky Station.
What makes Peredelkino really special is its glorious history steeped in the meetings and debates of many writers of the Soviet Union. In 1934, on the advice of Maxim Gorky, the Soviet government created a colony of writers by building 50 dachas in this area next to Moscow. A House of Creativity, which is a hotel and restaurant, was also set up to welcome all other novelists, poets and essayists who did not get a dacha of their own.
Here, writers could easily get together to recite or even sing their words, while providing mutual inspiration.
But you can become intimately acquainted with several of the fortunate heavy-hitters who had their own homes in Peredelkino, by visiting their museums.
Head of the Department for the Development of the New Territories of Moscow
Q: How can the new territories help resolve housing and traffic problems?
A: The town-planning potential of the new territories is 100 million square meters. Out of these, 40 million are dedicated to housing. This will help to solve the housing problem as well as to offload the old Moscow, which will have a positive impact on traffic jams. But these objectives should be viewed from a multi-year perspective.
Q: How do you plan to develop roads and housing in the New Moscow?
A: The large urban development potential of the New Moscow does not mean that multi-story buildings will be built rapidly. The basic principles of the long-term development of the New Moscow include: low-rise and environmentally-friendly buildings, modern social infrastructures — a sufficient number of schools, hospitals, kindergartens — proactive development of the road infrastructure, the creation of many parks and recreational areas, and the creation of jobs directly in the new territories in order to avoid the necessity for people to have to go to work in the old Moscow.
These principles form the basis for the development of a new master plan and territorial planning scheme which should be ready by the end of 2014, and the territorial planning designs by mid-2013. Most important is the road network. Without that, it will not be possible to assimilate the new territories.
Q: What will the New Moscow look like within 10 years?
A: The New Moscow that was presented in March in Cannes at the MIPIM exhibition included very modern and creative projects such as residential areas as well as administrative and business centers. Beautiful houses and a comfortable area with such neighborhoods will create a truly comfortable environment for people who will live there. My dream is that the New Moscow will look exactly like that within 10 years.
Q: What are the most successful businesses situated in the new territory?
A: New Moscow is sparsely populated. There are no big industries. The only exception is the city of Troitsk, but this is a federal academic center, which has its own unique qualities. In the future, from 500,000 to 1 million new jobs could be created. These will materialize mainly at administrative and business centers, shopping and entertainment centers, and small and medium businesses.
— Chloe Schmitt
Start with the somber house of Boris Pasternak, whose interior walls are adorned with paintings by his father, Leonid Pasternak. After receiving the dacha, the writer lived there almost constantly until his death. Here he finished writing his masterpiece “Doctor Zhivago,” for which he received the Nobel Prize that he had to reject because of pressures exerted on him by the Soviet authorities.
If you are lucky, you can catch one of the more thespian guides who will spontaneously break out into long passages of memorized Pasternak poetry.
In the home of popular children’s writer Kornei Chukovsky’s , you will awaken your inner child the moment that you cross the threshold. There is no doubt that this place is very much influenced by the imaginative world of the author, from the presence of a “miracle tree” decorated by pairs of shoes in the garden, to the words of verses from “The Monster Cockroach,” “The Crocodile” and the hardly translatable novel “Moidodyr” (“Wash-‘em-Clean”) that you will have the pleasure of hearing during your visit. The author liked to gather young people in the house, read them his poetry and prose, and play games with them.
While walking to the next museum, the dacha of Bulat Okudzhava , feel the contrast between his modest residence and the grandiose million-dollar properties of the wealthy Russians who have invaded Peredelkino. Once you reach the multitalented artist’s estate, you’ll see the little house on the left where the poet, writer, musician, novelist, and singer-songwriter, used to live. Then explore the second building — the House of Friends — where he met with other artists, including popular singer Vladimir Vysotsky and the poet Bella Akhmadulina. Okudzhava liked to give poems as presents and very much valued friendships. Visitors are encouraged to come by during the summer to attend events in the garden, where it is possible to listen to the verses of modern poets.
A Peredelkino visit is not complete without making it to the Museum Gallery of Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The poet, currently a professor at the University of Tulsa in the U.S., decided to transform his property into a museum. In the basement, three rooms display the pictures he took at different periods of his life and his collection of paintings including the works of some well-known masters: Picasso, Fernand Léger, Braque, Chagall and Niko Pirosmani. During the excursion, your guide will tell you stories about how he acquired them. On the upper floor, his worktable, family pictures and other personal objects, including a cane offered by Mark Twain are on display.
Finally, near the railway station you can also see the impressive residence of the Russian Orthodox patriarch, the Savior Transfiguration Church and a cemetery including the graves of Pasternak, Chukovsky and Arseny Tarkovsky.
In the New Moscow, when driving south out of town on Kievskoye Shosse you can make side trips to historical estates of many different styles, most of which are now suffering from abandonment or in complete ruin. Ten kilometers from the MKAD, on the river Likova, sits the well-preserved Verkhneye Valuyevo usadba, or estate house — a fine example of classicism. Further along, at the 19th kilometer, you can see the ruins of the English-style Kryokshino estate. This was the home of Vladimir Chertkov, an editor and close friend of Leo Tolstoy.
Here, the famous writer penned the novels “The Stranger and the Peasant,” “It Is Time to Understand,” “Discussion With a Stranger” and “What Is the Main Task of a Teacher” as well as his testament prescribing that all his work should become part of the public domain rather that falling into private hands.
On the other side of Kievskoye Shosse, at the 22nd kilometer, next to Pervomaiskoye village, the empire style Staronikolskoye estate makes a rather gloomy spectacle since it has been burned and mostly destroyed. On the same territory, a rich industrial family, the Bergs, constructed a compound that includes a manor, a farmyard, a coach house and a water tower — although most of the buildings are now in ruins. For the time being, there is no plan to restore these properties and there are few chances that it will be a priority in the future.
Moscow Stud Farm No. 1
Towards the end of Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Shosse, 24 kilometers northwest of the MKAD, another small exclave, on which is located Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, has been incorporated into New Moscow.
Its headquarters is in Uspenkoye settlement while the riding rink is down the road in Gorky-10. To get there, take bus 121 from the Molodyozhnaya metro station.
The Moscow Stud Farm was originally set up as a breeding farm in 1924, and distributed horses to research centers. At the beginning of the 20th century, one of its main tasks was to improve the Orlov race trotter breed, which was originally bred to thrive in the conditions of Russia’s climate and be a workhorse for peasants. Gradually, the goal of improving its racing skills faded, and breeders focused on its sporting skills.
The farm has welcomed prominent guests throughout its history, including scientists, artists, politicians, sportsmen and cosmonauts. Famous visitors include Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, who came for a rechristening of the farm in 2008 and was presented with a horse called Albatross.
The scenery and energy of the place is known to lifts spirits and provide good karma, which explains why cosmonauts were often brought to the Stud Farm before their spaceflights and why the Soviet national ice hockey team came here before important games abroad.
VTB and Akron, the owners of the facility and the land it sits on, plan to modernize the facility and eventually turn it into a national equestrian park. This ambitious project will help see infrastructure and housing develop on the site.
Tourists who like horses can make an appointment by phone at least a day in advance to visit the farm, where they can ride a horse for 1,500 rubles ($48) for 45 minutes or a pony for 650 rubles for 20 minutes. There are also 645 cows on the site producing 10,000 liters of milk a day.
The Skolkovo campus is just two kilometers outside the MKAD off Mozhaiskoye Shosse. It is the brainchild of former President Dmitry Medvedev and is seen as a symbol of his efforts to make technology a key part of the GDP. Two years after inception, it is still under construction — at one point having been selected to host the G20 meeting at the end of this year, until organizers realized that not enough work would be completed on time.
For now, the site hosts the campus of the Skolkovo School of Management in its futuristically styled headquarters and a conference center called the Hypercube.
French architectural firm AREP won the tender to design the overall campus, where there will be educational facilities, R&D laboratories of domestic and foreign firms, and housing for scientists, students, teachers and staff.
The territory is divided into five parts corresponding to the clusters that will be developed on the site: information technology, energy, nuclear technologies, biomedicine and aerospace. Skolkovo innovation city is set to become an example of how future metropolises should look: modern, energy efficient, with low or zero emissions of harmful substances.
If science and innovation interests you, consult the program of conferences of the Skolkovo Foundation, To get to the campus by public transportation, take shuttle buses 818 or 523 that depart from Kievskaya metro station (Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa) and metro Slavyansky Bulvar, heading for the Moskovskaya Shkola Upravleniya bus stop.
There is one city now part of New Moscow that does not welcome random visitors: Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye has been called the “city of millionaires” or “a shining ghetto” and offers the well-heeled a chance to live in a “European city,” as its website states, with small houses, nice parks and all necessary facilities.
It was founded in 2003 when businessman and Senator Suleiman Kerimov bought 430 hectares on the Moscow River at three kilometers from the MKAD, just off Novorizhskoye Shosse. After the 2008 crisis, Sberbank became the new owner of this private city. The area will eventually have 5.4 million square meters of constructed space, including 1.9 million square meters of office space, 1.8 million square meters of private housing and the rest dedicated to restaurants, shops and public infrastructure. The total cost of the project could come to $11 billion. Additional investments should be made to improve the road infrastructure and connect this piece of land to the suburban network. The construction will be done in phases and should be complete by 2025. The official website gives you an idea about how this dream town is slated to look in a few years.
Where to eat
In Peredelkino, you can enjoy a budget meal at the cafeteria of the House of Creativity. For 300 rubles ($9), you will get a drink, a salad, soup and a main dish.
If you would like to have a higher quality meal and are ready to spend 1,000 to 1,500 rubles per person, you can go to the Solntse restaurant in the same building and enjoy their view from their terrace, if the weather allows it.
Near the estates, at kilometer 51 of Kievskoye Shosse, the Dubrava restaurant, founded in 1973, used to welcome Soviet delegations. A meal costs up to 1,500 rubles. Monday to Sunday: 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
At the Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, you can have a snack in the cafe at the riding stables, or you can choose to cross the street and eat in the restaurant-hotel Zolotoi Kupol which serves a large choice of Russian and Georgian dishes for an average price of 400 to 600 rubles.
In Peredelkino, you could choose to stay overnight in the House of Creativity (4 Ulitsa Pogodina, in one of the bedrooms where the writers used to sleep and work for 1,300 rubles per night or in the new wing for 1,800 rubles per night.
Near the territory of the Stud Farm, you can stay in the Zolotoi Kupol in a single room for 3,500 rubles per night or in a two-bed suite for 4,000 rubles per night.