Moscow’s Des Res Districts: (7) Prospekt Mira & The North
By Ross Hunter
Editor’s Welcome: You know the form by now. A nifty note on Moscow’s best central residential areas. No.7 heads North around the Olympic Park area; with just The Arbats to follow. As ever, all readers’ inputs welcome – JH
Prospect Mira – Key Features in Cameo:
A Plenty of pleasant leafy places to live
B Well served by road, rail, airport express
C Spread out and diffuse, no single focus
D Lots of fine hospitals, clinics, dentists and medical centres – why be well? I can recommend the Sklifovsky Clinic, for both exterior architecture and interior care
E Possibly the best set of inner city parks and gardens
F A surprising number of historical, cultural and tourist attractions if you can find them
G Much of Moscow’s best culture within easy reach: only 3kms from the Kremlin
Z But somehow, still a slightly vague sense of place. A convenient but hardly compelling zone.
Moscow is a big city. Sometimes, the big streets and the big vistas are the best. By contrast, the areas to the north of Moscow are not at their best seen from the main roads. The Garden Ring – Sucharevskaya Sad – and the 3rd Ring Road are unremitting rivers of traffic and if there is time to look at the view, which is unlikely, concrete and tarmac dominate. Prospekt Mira makes a promising start, going north, but after the eponymous Metro, it soon degenerates into down-at-heel shops and worn street furniture, and Olimpisky Prospekt is modern, wide and boring. The area is changing rapidly, as modern business developments are now coming on stream.
To find the charming, peaceful and enjoyable areas worth living in, simlpy get behind the big façades and explore the quiet, leafy back streets. Either side of the Garden Ring, and from Novoslobodskaya to Prospekt Mira, there is a splendid set of quiet and relaxing areas, with an abundance of green spaces in which to relax. There are places for children to play, couples to stroll, and organised attractions with open air concert spots, paddling/boating ponds and tennis courts and formal gardens.
The atmosphere is very different to other parts of Moscow. Without the prestige of Patriarshiye Prudy, the historical interest of Taganskaya or the intimate charm of Zamoskvorechye, the north has its own mixture of landscapes and attractions. As well as parks and trees, the area is blessed with hospitals, clinics, retirement homes and public service buildings, which may be reassuring. Sybarites will enjoy the wide variety of good value restaurants, including Chinese, Japanese, French and more, notably around Mendeleevskaya and to the east of Tsvetnoy Boulevard.
Finding a good flat to let or to buy should not be difficult, given good advice. There are enough pre-Revolutionary buildings to ensure solid walls and high ceilings, and modern additions meeting expat expectations. The buildings in the side streets around Samotechnye are of notably good quality, having been built for the better echelons of the Soviet ‘nomenklatura’. Prices are gentler than neighbouring Chistiye Prudy to the east or Tverskaya to the west. However, by the same token, this sector lacks the focus or cohesion of those two most ‘des-res’ districts: there is no sense of being in an identifiable place, still less of an urban village community. Many of the best lanes are split by the Garden Ring. Even where this is not a total physical barrier, the concrete overpass makes it more Paddington than Notting Hill; more Bronx than Greenwich. My local contact, strategically placed overlooking the great slick road, reported that the day’s sclerotic congestion is only relieved in the wee small hours … by 150+ km/h speed trials and races.
Of special note:
Ekaterinsky Park makes a long green wedge of calm and fresh air stretching out of Moscow, especially as it extends from the Boulevard Ring.
Many Green Havens The botanical gardens off Prospekt Mira are top, Dietskiy Park, Tsvetnoy Boulevard, and a bit to the west the Hermitage Gardens await your playful inspection, not to mention a host of smaller squares.
The Olimpisky Stadium and swimming complex are great edifices; the area around them deserves better and is in proves of being revamped.
Buildings & Statues aplenty:The Soviet Army Theatre and Army Museum opposite it; the old circus (named after the famous Soviet-era clown, Nikolin); Victor Vasnetsov’s house-museum; The Garage – now the Jewish museum in Melnikov’s glorious art deco bus depot.
The Best Metro Stations Novoslobodskaya with its delightful illuminated stained glass arches, and its twin sister Mendeleyevskaya sporting gilded stalactites, modelling molecules.
Nearby? If you like this area but can’t find what you want… ask your favourite estate agent! Or try further north for more greenery; west or east for more charismatic neighbourhoods; or further in for a truly city experience.
Locals’ Verdicts: “Pleasant enough, but not really family friendly”; “Handy for the city and places of interest”.