I didn’t need to live in Moscow for long to realise that when someone tells you they live in Chistye Prudy, the correct response is to coo in admiration. “Oh, how lovely!” other expats would sigh, “I do so adore that part of town!”. But until this weekend I had no idea why.
It was a dank and rainy day but it didn’t take long to work out what provokes such envy. My side of Moscow can be somewhat noisy. Even fashionable areas like the café-studded Patriarch Ponds can feel hemmed in by the big highways of the Garden Ring, Tverskaya Ulitsa and Novy Arbat. But Chistye Prudy is different. It is…(whisper it)…quiet. And pretty. With a tram trundling along its comparatively narrow streets.
We walked along the Boulevard where there were plenty of people enjoying themselves, despite the weather. Unlike other sections of the Boulevard ring, Chistye Prudy boasts a pond which meant the children had great fun trying to spot some ducks. We only saw a few (perhaps urban ducks aren’t so keen on the rain either?!?) and alas there were no ducklings, but the water definitely increased the sense of excitement for our kids. You could easily spend half a day here because the pond also has a floating restaurant and, on a drier day, you can hire pedalo boats.
My son’s favourite spot was a much smaller pond with fountains. Beanie-boy sat for quite some time on one of the rocks mesmerised by the sparkling water and would have stayed for considerably longer were it not for Mummy fretting that his trousers were getting damp.
Not far from the fountains, and permanently deep in thought, is the statue of Abai Kunanbaev, a 19th century Kazakh poet. Kunanbaev (no, I hadn’t heard of him either. I Googled.) was not only a poet but a composer, philosopher and one of the first to write down the Kazakh language. I’m not sure how a statue of him ended up in Chistye Prudy, but as much of his poetry is about the natural landscape, it certainly seems fitting to find him in this lovely urban oasis.
If you live in Chistye Prudy, yes I am a little envious. If you don’t live there, I’d definitely recommend visiting. I found one of Kunanbaev’s poems online so I’ll leave the final word to him:
Through Windless Night by Abai Kunanbaev
Through windless night the glinting moon
Illuminates in flowing waves
The village nestled in the vale
Where crests the overflowing stream
The thick-trunked, bare-branched tree
speaks in whispers to itself–
don’t you see the bustling earth
Turning its face green again?
You can find Chistye Prudy on my map here.