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Four buildings whose history is as interesting as their intricate facades.

Nikolskaya is one of the oldest streets in the capital. It starts from Red Square and ends at Lubyanskaya. Moscow trade has traditionally been concentrated in the Kitay-gorod area, and Nikolskaya Street was one of its centers. The land here was expensive, but it guaranteed the owner a good income.

In the 18th century, there were coffee shops on Nikolskaya, popular with visiting merchants. The guests drank coffee, exchanged news and read newspapers. By the way, the first newspaper in Russia was printed on this street. Read the article for what else it is known and what buildings you should not pass by without examining them in all details.

Ferreina’s Pharmacy: Goddesses of Health and a Medieval Castle

Nikolskaya street, house 21

One of the most beautiful and unusual buildings on Nikolskaya is the famous Ferrein pharmacy. In the 1890s, it was built by the architect Adolf Erichson by order of Vladimir Ferrein, who inherited the pharmaceutical business from Karl Ferrein’s father. Vladimir Karlovich was a talented businessman. Medicines in his pharmacy were prepared using a special technology, Ferrein encouraged workers with bonuses according to a special system, and also resorted to the most daring advertising moves. For example, in order to promote medicines based on bear fat, the entrepreneur bought a live bear, which was taken every day by his order to a watering hole at the Nikolsky fountain on Lubyanskaya Square.

At the end of the 19th century, Ferrein’s pharmacy was the largest in Europe. The luxurious four-story building greeted visitors with crystal chandeliers, high stucco ceilings and mahogany counters. A magnificent marble staircase led to the second floor, where the recipe department was located. Dozens of pharmacists prepared a variety of powders, ointments and solutions in a special room with an exhaust hood. The third floor was occupied by a canteen for employees, and the fourth – by a storage department for medicinal raw materials and other specialized premises. This and other pharmacy shops of the V.K. Ferrein was supplied by two plantations of medicinal plants. One of them was located in the Crimea, and the second was much closer – in Butovo, in the Ferrein family estate.

Ferrein’s pharmacy has a very unusual architecture. The facade overlooking Nikolskaya is made in the neo-Renaissance style: spacious windows, high columns decorated with statues of the goddess of health Hygieia. The facade on the reverse side is stylized as a medieval castle with a tower, which used to house a clock installed by Vladimir Ferrein for the convenience of Muscovites. In Soviet times, the building housed a pharmacy number 1.

From medicinal herbs to the first generics: we look into the most famous Moscow pharmacy in the 19th-20th centuries

Nikolskie shopping arcade: lions of Kekushev

Nikolskaya street, 5/1, building 3

The construction of the shopping arcade on Nikolskaya began in 1899, when the site was rented by the Petersburg Insurance Company. Initially, the project was entrusted to the architect Alexander Latkov, but soon he was replaced by the famous master of Art Nouveau Lev Kekushev. He was assisted by another representative of this trend, Sergei Shutsman.

The architects tried to rhyme the central dome of the building with the bell tower of the Zaikonospassky monastery located nearby. The shopping arcade has striking modern features: flowing lines, molded mascarons (a high-relief image of a mask of a mythological character or a mythical creature – approx. and small columns. Windows on each floor have their own shape and vary in size. At the bottom there are huge display windows with oak frames, at the top there are more modest but graceful openings. In accordance with the canons of the style, the structure is not entirely symmetrical (closer to Red Square there is an entrance with the only balcony in the whole building above it). Not without the trademarks of Lev Kekushev, which he placed on all his creations. Lion face masks can be seen under the building’s upper eaves.

Four years later, Nikolskie, or, as they were also called, Iverskie, shopping arcade began to work. Only very wealthy entrepreneurs could afford to rent premises here. Each of the eight stores had its own entrance from Nikolskaya, inside there were galleries that connected the stores.

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“Slavic Marketplace”

Nikolskaya street, house 17, buildings 1, 2

This site has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century: at various times it belonged to merchants, counts and entrepreneurs. There were chambers, shops and even mansions of diplomatic envoys. But, perhaps, the brightest period began in the 1870s, when the Slavyansky Bazar hotel appeared here.

At that time, there was an estate on this site that belonged to the Synodal Printing House. It was rented by Alexander Porokhovshchikov, an entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist. He came up with the idea to rebuild the dilapidated building and turn it into a modern hotel and entertainment complex with rooms, retail space and a concert and lecture hall. Architect Robert Gedicke took over the project. The two-story manor house now has another floor and an attic, and in the courtyard there is a semicircular room, which was originally used for trade. The end of construction was timed to coincide with the opening of the 1872 Polytechnic Exhibition.

In 1873, another point of attraction appeared in the complex: Austrian architect August Weber converted the three-story trading floor into a spacious restaurant with a high glass roof. Slavianski Bazar was famous for brunch – they were especially appreciated by merchants who liked to complete stock exchange transactions at business lunches. Art workers have also been here: connoisseurs of the history of theater are aware that it was here that Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and Konstantin Stanislavsky invented the Moscow Art Theater.

In 1875, architects Andrei Gun and Pavel Kudryavtsev made the “Russian conversation” hall in the hotel, intended for public lectures and meetings. The room was designed in the style of Russian ornamental design, decorated with wooden carvings and tiles. The hall became the center of public life in Moscow, where famous scientists and musicians performed.

In Soviet times, the Moscow Operetta Theater, the Theater for Young Spectators, the Comedy Theater and others were located here. Today, the main building of the complex houses the Boris Pokrovsky Chamber Musical Theater.

Moscow Printing House: the lion and the unicorn

Nikolskaya street, 15, building 1

The Moscow Printing House is the first printing house in Russia, created during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The first dated book came out from under the press of the Printing House on March 1, 1564. It was published by Ivan Fedorov, deacon of the Kremlin church of St. Nicholas Gostunsky. The very first books that did not have an output were printed here back in the 1550s. The first newspaper, which laid the foundation for the Russian periodical press, was published here a century and a half later, in 1703, by decree of Peter I. In 1722, the printing house was transferred to the Holy Synod, and until 1917 there was the Moscow Synodal Printing House, one of the most advanced in country.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Printing House had to be dismantled due to dilapidation. The project of the new building was created by Ivan Mironovsky. He chose the pseudo-Gothic style that was fashionable at that time. The facade was decorated with a sundial, lancet Gothic windows and turrets, twisted columns with intricate ornamentation, and a double-headed eagle was placed on the pediment. From the gates of the previous building, a lion and a unicorn, heraldic symbols of power, were transferred to the facade.

To view the most ancient part of the complex, the so-called teremok, you need to enter the courtyard. The underground floor of the building dates back to the end of the 15th century, that is, it is based on the oldest civil structure in Moscow.

After the revolution, the Synodal Printing House was closed, then it housed archival institutions, and now there is the building of the Russian State Humanitarian University.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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