Moscow’s Des Res Districts.  (2) Taganskaya

By Ross Hunter, Headmaster ESS Lefortovo; photos by John Harrison with additional research by David Gilmartin, Troika Relocations.

Editor’s Introduction:  RK’s series of the most popular places to live, near central Moscow, covers eight key districts, loosely matching the main compass points. Last time, Chistiye Prudy, now to Taganska, a bit of a hidden gem, often un-noticed behind it’s wonderful Stalin Skyscraper front door. Where do you live? All opinions and local knowledge gladly welcomed, for all the inner residential areas. Next up is Patriarshy Ponds, that traditional expats’ favourite.  – JH

Key Features in Cameo:

A  One Stalin skyscraper, two rivers, three Metro lines, four green parks, five monasteries nearby

B  Decent expat accommodation at reasonable rates

C  Green spaces and great views across the river and to Red Square

D  Very well served with theatres, restaurants, expat-friendly bars and daily shopping options

E  Excellent public transport, above and below ground

F  Surprisingly close to Moscow centre & historical in its own right

G  Handy by car….

Z   …. but some spots can be tediously noisy;

Where can you find Stalin-era and pre-revolutionary buildings at discount prices, great views and easy transport, all two stops from the Kremlin and inside the Garden Ring? Taganskaya is curiously unfashionable, and therefore worth a closer look. I declare an interest: since first coming to Moscow a dozen years ago, this has been home, and an ideal spot it has been too.

Taganskaya was traditionally an area of metalworking and light industry – the name comes from iron barrel hoops – and it is also a gateway to the largely industrial wedge to the southeast: the Moscow Monopoly game has most of its cheaper properties down that way. However, there is a lot of movement upmarket, and multinationals, in the telecoms, oilfield development, finance and food processing sect6ors are here. When the two halves of the Yellow (8) Metro line are eventually joined up, it will be perfect for Moscow City offices, too.

It is full of contrasts. The big wide streets offer fine views, with too much traffic, but the back streets are cosy and at people-scale. The Garden Ring is thankfully tunnelled out of the way. In a largely flat city, Taganskaya is blessed with nicely undulating slopes, which provide views in all directions, but especially down to the Moscow River and its Yauza tributary – both brilliant forweekend walks or cycle rides. The back streets are cosy and at people-scale. It is well served by corner shops, supermarkets and banks, with plenty of pleasant bars and restaurants, including the excellent Jazz Town club, The John Donne sports pub, Donnie’s Bar, Dewar’s Powerhouse, and a late night music club named after the famous actor Vladimir Vysotsky: of course, the area is renowned for its theatres.

The most famous of the theatres is the Taganska theatre itself, which rose to fame under the long reign of founding great director Yuri Lyubimov, in 1964. Lubimov kept the flame of artistic freedom alive during the dark years, and is most remembered for his Hamlet in 1976 and the previously impossible-to-stage Master & Margarita the following year – with Vysotsky, of course. More on Bulgakov when we visit Patriarshy Ponds, next in this series.

It is historically rich, too. Bounded by water to west and north, the SE approaches to the city were guarded by a ring of fortified monasteries, of which Novospassky is the largest and most imposing complete with park, pond and river adjoining; Svyato-Pokrovsky isarguably the prettiest, and next to the large and pleasant Tagansksy Park – a favourite with young families. It is also the easiest to visit, only 10 minutes from the Metro.

Most spectacular is the Stalin-era skyscraper, one of the ‘Seven Sisters’, originally build for artists and creative people (but they let me in, too, for six years), and the huge complex also houses Moscow’s fist foreign language cinema. More recently, the area got more large, solid and well proportioned 1950s residential blocks, along Goncharnaya Ulitsa and down towards the Novospassky Bridge. Whilst houses were going up on Tagansky hill, deep beneath it an even larger construction was hidden from view: a cold war command centre and nuclear-proof bunker, 65m below the Ploshchad (at 5th Kotelnichesky Pereulok), now open to the public and well worth a visit.


Don’t miss:  

Taganskaya Ploshchad, with its immaculate Metro stations, a choice of theatres, assortment of watering holes and big views down the avenues.

The embankments of the Moscow and Yauza rivers are great for a stroll at the weekend – when the traffic eases.

It is only a twenty minute brisk walk to St. Basils, Paveletskaya, and Chistye Prudy; and on the Brown Line only 15 minutes to any railway station of your choice. And right on top of the Garden Ring for those with a car.