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© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Fedorenko

The colourful past and present of Maryina Roshcha

by Vladimir Kozlov at 13/09/2010 22:58

At first blush, Maryina Roshcha does not appear to be a particularly exciting neighbourhood, but its history goes back more than two and a half centuries, and the area features a number of sights to see.

In the mid-18th century, a grove situated next to the village of Maryino was dubbed Maryina Roshcha (“Maryina’s Grove), and that name has stuck to this day, even though the grove was completely cut down in the late 19th century. One to two-storey buildings were built in place of the grove, and names of the streets from that period have stayed the same until now.

In the 19th century, Maryina Roshcha was often referred to as a Jewish neighbourhood. The only synagogue ever built in the Soviet Union was built in this area in 1926. Today, Maryina Roshcha is home to the Moscow Jewish Community Centre and Synagogue.

Historic Soviet architecture

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Maryina Roshcha was considered one of Moscow’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. The Bolshevik government decided to fight Maryina’s bad reputation by tearing down some older buildings and erecting new ones – some of which are now considered fine examples of 1920s and 30s Soviet architecture.  

Although the Russian Army Theatre (formerly the Soviet Army Theatre) is technically not part of the Maryina Roshcha neighbourhood, as it is located right next to its official border, historically it does belong to the neighbourhood. This star-shaped building was erected in 1940 and remains one of the most remarkable reminders of that era.

The theatre stands next to Suvorovskaya Ploshchad, Yekaterininsky Square and Yekaterininsky Park – the latter two named after the nearby Yekaterininsky Institute for Noble Maidens. The classical style of the institute building, formerly known as the Saltykov Mansion, has also been preserved to this day.

Olympic blues

Many other buildings in the area were demolished in the late 1970s, when Moscow was gearing up to host the 1980 Olympic Games. Entire streets of buildings were torn down to make room for the construction of a new thoroughfare, Olimpiisky Prospekt, which advocates for the preservation of historic architecture have since decried. Some new buildings, including the Havana Film Theatre and Satirikon Theatre, were built at that time.

Also near Suvorovskaya Ploshchad stands the Museum of Armed Forces, occupying an unremarkable 1960s building but offering visitors a chance to look at a huge collection of flags, weaponry, documents, photographs and paintings, as well as real tanks, armed vehicles and artillery installed in its outdoor section.

Another prominent attraction in the area is the Fyodor Dostoyevsky Museum, located in the house where the 19th century author was born and where he spent the first 15 years of his life.

Industry and bad roads

Meanwhile, not all sections of the neighbourhood are equally attractive or interesting, as a large part of it is taken up by 1960s residential buildings and industrial zones, which is one of the area’s main drawbacks.

“First, the neighbourhood is located outside the Third Transport Ring and is overloaded with vehicles,” Alexander Ziminsky, director of the elite property department at Penny Lane Realty, told The Moscow News. “And this artery in a way cuts the neighbourhood off from the centre.”

“Second, it has historically been an industrial neighbourhood, as more than 20 industrial enterprises are located there,” Ziminsky went on to say. “Third, in terms of its social environment, the neighbourhood is not prestigious either. In my opinion, it is overloaded with residential buildings.”

Sentimental value

Maryina Roshcha metro station platform

© RIA Novosti. / Ruslan Krivobok

The hall of the Moscow Metro's newly opened Dostoyevskaya station.

Still, many are attracted to the neighbourhood, drawn by its location not too far from the city centre, as well as by historic or personal connections.

“Maryina Roshcha is quite an interesting neighbourhood, loved by those who grew up there,” Roman Muradyan, chairman of the broker council at MIEL, told The Moscow News, adding that residential property there is quite diverse, from stalinkas to khrushchyovkas.

According to Muradyan, demand for property in Maryina Roshcha is just about average. The cheapest option in Maryina Roshcha currently available to potential buyers through MIEL’s data base is a one-room, 39 sq. meter apartment in the 8th floor of a 16-storey building, with a price tag of 6.1 million roubles. The most property for purchase is a 75.5 meter three-room apartment in a five-storey brick building, offered at 12.7 million roubles.

“Above all, property in this neighbourhood is in demand from those already living there,” Muradyan said, adding that Maryina Roshcha apartments also sometimes become part of complex deals in which people sharing an apartment in the city centre move to separate apartments.

“The prices are somewhat lower than in the very centre,” Muradyan said. “Also, the neighbourhood is very popular with those looking to rent apartments. It is, on the one hand, very close to the city centre. On the other hand, inexpensive options are available there.”

For years, the neighbourhood’s big disadvantage was lack of metro station. But this issue was sorted when two new stations of the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya line, Dostoyevskaya and Maryina Roshcha, were launched this summer.

“The neighbourhood is now convenient from the public transport viewpoint,” Muradyan said. “The metro station Dostoyevskaya was recently opened and several more stations are within a walking distance, plus there is always the Third Transport Ring.”


The Apartment Question

Alexander, 27, a mid-level manager, is renting a one-room apartment in a 12-storey apartment building near the newly opened Maryina Roshcha metro.

“Yes, the opening of the metro station was a big deal for many who live in the neighbourhood”, he said. “Not for me, though, because I don’t use the metro. I drive. And Sheremetyevskaya is still a nightmare for drivers, as it has always been.”

According to Alexander, he isn’t particularly happy with the neighbourhood but it is okay for a time being. “I wouldn’t say I like it here,” he said. “Especially the part I live in – there’s nothing interesting about it, just a regular residential neighbourhood bordering with an industrial zone. Still, it’s close to the city centre, and I work in the centre. Finding something affordable there doesn’t look as realistic, and here I’m just off the Third Transport Ring, which is fine.”

“If I want to remind myself that I don’t live on the outskirts, I could drive to the area where the Soviet Army Theatre,” Alexander said. “So, it’s not bad for the money I pay. And I think other issues, like difficulty finding a parking space at night, are typical of any neighbourhood in Moscow, so I wouldn’t complain about it.”

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