This 2.5 mile walk takes you through the district of Krasnaya Presnya which is heavily associated with the 1905 revolution. The area is also associated with the history of some much more recent uprisings.
The walk begins just outside the 1905 Goda Metro station where you’ll find the very large sculpture pictured at the top of the page. The 1905 revolt was a significant step along the path to the 1917 Russian Revolution. It began in St Petersburg when a group of peaceful demonstrators were fired upon as they tried to reach the Winter Palace to present their grievances to the Tsar. Months of unrest followed, and in Moscow things really escalated with the death of Bauman. Bauman was a young Bolshevik activist who was protesting outside the Taganka jail for the release of political prisoners, when he was attacked and killed by a member of the far-right Black Hundreds group. Bauman became the first Bolshevik martyr and his funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people. Bauman is apparently portrayed in the sculpture outside the Metro station. I’ve not been able to definitively find out which figure is him, but from a photo and figurine of him at the local museum, I think he’s the central figure holding the flag.
To the left of the statue (as you face it) is the underground walkway to cross the very busy road and reach the park that commemorates the 1905 revolution. Head towards the centre of the park and you’ll soon come across this statue in memory of the Presnya revolt portraying a worker unearthing a paving slab to use as a weapon. Just a few weeks after Bauman’s death, workers called a strike in Moscow that erupted into violence. They were soon pushed back out of the centre of Moscow and set up barricades to defend the areas around their homes, most notably in the Prensnya district where most of the factories were concentrated. The workers held out for nine days until the Tsar sent in the heavy artillery. The quotation behind the statue is from Lenin. It reads: “The deeds of the Presnya workers was not wasted. Their sacrifices were not in vain.”
Walk through the park heading towards the far-right corner (passing a statue of Lenin at the end). As you come out, you’ll see the memorial to Schmidt (the owner of the Schmidt furniture factory) on the opposite side of the road junction. The revolution is usually seen as the workers against the rich factory owners, but in 1905 much of the intelligentsia, and even some wealthy landowners, were in favour of reform. True, most stopped short of actually wanting to overthrow the monarchy, but they were hopeful that the demonstrations might lead to changes that would reduce the Tsars absolute power – such as the introduction of an elected parliament. Schmidt, though went further than most of his contemporaries and was entirely sympathetic to the revolutionaries aims. As a consequence his factory was completely destroyed by government troops, as this photo shows. In the year or so after the 1905 revolution there were huge numbers of arrests and in February 1907, Schmidt too was arrested, and a stash of weapons found at his home. He was deprived of food and sleep for 8 days and finally signed a confession. While in prison, he wrote to his sister saying that he had had a terrifying night and that he feared for the next. The following morning he was found dead in his cell. The street in front of the memorial is named after him.
Turn away from the Schmidt memorial and follow Trekhgorny Val Ulitsa as it curves up round the edge of the park, and turn right into Novovagankovskiy Pereulok. Follow the road along until you come to the very pretty St Nicholas church which was the parish church for most of the factory workers.
At this point you can take a detour to the Krasnaya Presnya museum which is one street further north at 4 Bolshoy Predtchenskiy Pereulok. Few of the exhibits have descriptions in English, but if you can read Cyrillic letters then you will be able to find photographs of Bauman and Schmidt as well as photos of the area during the uprising. There is also a small collection of items found from the revolt, including weapons. The museum also has exhibits relating to the 1917 revolution, the Second World War, and some models of what people’s apartments in the area would have looked like at various points during the 20th century. What is available with an English-language commentary, is the Diorama of the 1905 revolt. It is a model of Presnya at the time focusing on the barricades of the bridges with a backdrop showing the whole area under siege. With background music and some lighting effects, the commentary gives a description of the events of December 1905.
Return to the church and walk down the hill until you reach Rochdelskaya Ulitsa which is named after the mill-town of Rochdale in northern England. In 1844 a group of Rochdale workers set up an anti-capitalist Co-operative society, and wrote down the principles on which their society would be based. These principles, known as the Rochdale Principles, have been used as the standard by Co-operatives across the world ever since.
Turn left and walk along the street, on the opposite side of the road is the Trekhgornaya textile factory whose workers were heavily involved in the revolt. Clearly what you are looking at is a modern building but there has been a Trekhgornaya factory on this site since 1799. Some work is still carried out here, although most of the operation is now in Yaroslavl. There is a shop on site where you can buy Trekhgornaya textiles, but most of the old factory space has been turned into studios, showrooms and a nightclub.
Continue to walk along Rochdelskaya until you reach the White House building which stands on the site where the Schmidt Furniture factory once stood. This building was at the centre of a much more recent uprising – the 1991 Coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1991 a group of conservative opponents of Gorbachev took control, sending tanks onto the streets and declaring that Gorbachev was too unwell to run the country. The White House building was then the headquarters of Boris Yeltsin, the recently elected President of the Russian Republic, who opposed the Coup. The Coup leaders had ordered that the White House be surrounded by tanks, but Yeltsin famously stood on top of one of them to address the crowds and rally them to come and support him and Gorbachev. You can see the picture here. Within days the Coup was over, Gorbachev returned to power and Yeltsin hailed a hero. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin went on to become the first President of the Russian Federation.
Turn left up the hill and then right into the park. Walk down the hill through the park until you reach the opposite side. To your left are a number of shrines from an uprising in 1993. At least 145 people are thought to have died and many more injured, but the numbers are still debated.
Walk towards the White House and just before the main road on the left you’ll find an 18th century bridge and memorial to the 1905 uprising. The bridge was one of many that spanned the Presnya river, which has now been diverted underground. The workers erected a barricade on this bridge, and on others in the area (which is how Barrikadnaya Metro station got its name), to try to prevent the Tsars troops from getting across to the factories and their homes.
Turn right towards the river and walk up the hill along Novy Arbat. At the top of the hill at the junction with the Garden Ring road you’ll find this memorial to the three men who died during the 1991 Coup. It reads: In August 1991, defenders of democracy in Russia were killed here: Dmitry Alekseevich Komar, Ilya Maratovich Krichevsky, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Usov.”
The walk ends here, and it is a short walk to the Smolenskaya Metro stations – the one for the dark blue line is on the left-hand side of the road as you go down the hill, and the light-blue line is on the right.