Zaryadye Park is one of the new symbols of the city and has already gained international recognition. Located in the heart of Moscow, a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, it recreates the different landscapes of Russia. Its floating bridge has already become one of the city’s main tourist attractions. But the park also includes exhibitions, concert halls and restored historic buildings. Zaryadye Park will have many surprises in store for you.
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0. Zaryadye Park in Moscow, the first public park in 50 years
Moscow has many fantastic parks such as Gorky Park, VDNH Park, Kolómenskoye, Victory Park or Tsaritsyno.
But Moscow’s most modern park, opened officially in 2017, is Zaryadye Park, beside Red Square and next to the Moskva River. It was the first new public park in 50 years and cost about 480 million dollars.
In 2018, Time magazine included this park in its list of best places in the world. You’ll see why in this article. The park has also won several international awards.
The park recreates the different landscapes of Russia and ends with a floating bridge over the Moskva River from which you can admire an impressive view of Moscow and the monuments in Red Square.
The entrance to the park and the visit to its floating bridge are free, although there are some exhibitions and pavilions where you have to pay.
In this article I’ll tell you what to see in this fabulous park that you’ll be sure to visit if you are in Moscow.
1. The fascinating history of Zaryadye Park
The question that many people ask themselves is what was there before in this large, central area of land. Well, the story is a bit crazy.
This land space used to be the historic Zaryadye district, demolished by Stalin in order to build the Zaryadye Administrative Building, which would have become the eighth of the Seven Sisters or Stalin’s Skyscrapers in Moscow built in the forties and fifties in the last century.
In all likelihood the Zaryadye Skyscraper would have eclipsed the famous urban and architectural complex around it. In this photo you can see the draft plan for this skyscraper in the background, behind St. Basil’s Cathedral:
The only part of this skyscraper that was built were the foundations, on which the Rossiya Hotel was built in the 60s. This hotel became the largest in the world until the appearance of the Las Vegas Excalibur Hotel in 1990. Rossiya opened in 1967 and was closed in 2006.
The Rossiya Hotel, owned by the Russian government, was demolished and for several years the land it occupied was fenced as a construction site. In 2012 the Russian authorities took the decision to open a park on the site, which was conceived as a new public space aimed at filling the previous void, not only in a physical but also in a symbolic sense.
Opened in 2017, Zaryadye Park is today a landscape, leisure and educational space occupying about 13 hectares in the very center of Moscow.
The decision to build a park and the execution of it were not easy, as there had been plans to build hotels, a large business center or a parliamentary complex there.
It was officially opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin and by Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin on the 870th anniversary of the city, with an anticipated 10 million visitors per year. This number has increased to 15.
Zaryadye Park was conceived and developed by different architectural bureaus through an international competition with many applicants. The winners were the American bureau Diller Scofidio + Renfrom (who designed High Line Park in New York), together with Hargreaves Associates and Citymakers.
2. Practical information for organizing your visit
2.1. Location and access
Its location is unbeatable, since it is next to Red Square, the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, and you will enjoy the beautiful views of them from there.
The park is located between Varvarka Street and Moskvoretskaya Street, Kitaygorodsky Passage and Moskvoretskaya Embankment, next to the Moskva River.
The nearest metro station is Kitay-Gorod and there are many public bus stops, including stops for trolleybuses.
Here is an official map of the park (PDF) that I suggest that you print if you are going to visit it:
2.2. Opening hours and exhibitions tickets
Being an outdoor space, the park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, the enclosed pavilion spaces have the following opening hours: Monday 14:00 – 20:00 hrs. and Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 – 20:00 hrs.
What you can do outside is generally free, but the activities inside the pavilions mostly require payment. The pavilions house museums, film exhibitions, exhibition and concert halls, an ice cave, etc.
The Zaryadye Park website has information about opening hours, ticket prices and how to buy tickets online for the events. There are 5% discounts on tickets to the pavilions with the Troika public transport card.
There are restaurants in the pavilions themselves, but I recommend two more specialized fine restaurants that have their own facilities:
The Gastronomic Center
The Gastronomic Center, very close to the floating bridge, where you can savor specialties from the most diverse regions of Russia.
The Voskhod Restaurant, where you can enjoy food from the former Soviet Republics, whose gastronomic tradition is still highly regarded in Russia. It combines a futuristic design with the theme of the Soviet space program and the cosmonauts.
3. What to see and do in Zaryadye Park
3.1. Green areas and landscapes
The park stands out for its combination of green landscapes in relief, set on different levels, and it even has little hills. The difference between the highest and lowest point is only 27 meters. The park contains more than 1,000,000 plant species.
It was conceived as a unique place showing Russia’s natural diversity and its different climatic and geographical areas:
- Mixed forest with coniferous and deciduous trees with oak, birch or maple trees surrounded by fir trees. This is a recreation of the southern Taiga.
- Steppe, with grains and flowering herbs from temperate zones.
- Tundra or northern landscapes with mosses, lichens and small trees, typical vegetation of the Arctic lands.
- Floodplains or meadow with wild flowers.
- There is also a birch grove and the ponds are decorated with aquatic plants and riparian vegetation typical of the Moscow region.
3.2. The floating bridge over the Moskva River
The most famous attraction of this park is the floating bridge over the Moskva River, which stands out in the shape of a “V” or boomerang. It rises 15 meters above the water and is 244.4 meters long. Muscovites say it is “the unfinished bridge” because of its shape.
From there you can enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral or the apartment building in Kotélnicheskaya Náberezhnaya, the first of the Seven Stalin Sisters to be completed in 1952 rising to a height of 176 meters. Access is free. It is the perfect place to take a selfie.
They say it is the only place from where you can see all 5 red stars of the Kremlin at the same time.
Just below the floating bridge is the Moskvoretskaya embankment, an ideal place to take a cruise on the Moskva River. An underground walkway connects it directly to the park.
3.3. Pavilions and exhibitions
But Zaryadye Park is not only a park of green spaces; it also houses modern pavilions and exhibitions, which are notable for their bold, modern architecture. Some of these are hidden beneath the green areas and form underground structures.
There are spaces for education and relaxation throughout the park which has the latest technologies and digital media.
At the entrance to the park, coming from Red Square, is the Dome Pavilion that serves as an information center. It is a dome-shaped metal structure. Its interior walls are covered with QR code tiles that store data about the project and numerous interesting facts about the historic Zaryadye district. It also contains a model of the park. Admission is free.
Media Center Pavilion
Next to the Dome Pavilion is the Media Center Pavilion. Inside this pavilion you can enjoy Time Machine, a film in an interactive room. Images are projected on a spectacular wide screen and here you will learn about the history of Moscow from ancient times to the present. Tickets: from 490 to 655 rubles (working days / weekends).
In another of the halls you can see “Flying over Moscow” and “Flight over Russia”. From a swivel chair you can experience the feeling of being on a real flight and of seeing stunning views of the city, its architecture, its monuments, national parks and legendary Russian landscapes, etc. Tickets: from 690 to 850 rubles (working days / weekends).
The Ice Cave
The Ice Cave provides an opportunity to travel to the world of snow and ice, and to feel the power and grandeur of the natural world of the north. The temperature throughout the year is -4 to -9 degrees. Surface area of 750 m² and 70 tons of frozen water. If you’re not dressed warmly, you can rent shawls for 300 rubles. Tickets for the Cave: 190 to 300 rubles (working days / weekends).
The Nature Center
The Nature Center is the second largest pavilion with an area of 3,300 m². It includes a visit to Florarium, an experimental greenhouse of tropical plants that allows farming without soil, either in an air or mist environment. That is, plants growing without soil. Climate control systems maintain the required humidity, air temperature and lighting. Tickets: 190 to 250 rubles (working days / weekends).
The Underground Archaeological Museum
The Underground Archaeological Museum exhibits archaeological and ethnographic objects from the Kitay-Gorod and Zaryadye regions, such as white stone cannonballs, coins, tiles, old Russian footwear, customs stamps from ancient Western Europe and Russia, etc.
In addition, you will find a fragment of the 16th cent. wall reconstructed in the second half of the 20th cent. as the museum is built around the foundations of the Kitaygorodskaya wall, part of a fortification with a lot of history.
It is located in the underground passage from the park to the Moskvoretskaya embankment. Tickets: 190 to 250 rubles (working days / weekends).
3.4. Concert Halls and Events
In addition to the pavilions, in this park there are also two impressive concert halls, one indoor and one outdoor:
Zaryadye Concert Hall
The Zaryadye Concert Hall is a modern music facility with one of the best acoustic designs in the world created by the Japanese Yasuhisa Toyota. Multifunctional space in two philharmonic halls, one for seating 1,560 people and a smaller one with 400 seats. The building appears as if it is “excavated” in an artificial hill.
- Event programming and ticket purchases: https://zaryadyehall.com/en/event/
- Guided tours: https://zaryadyehall.com/en/tours/
The Large Amphitheater is located outdoors and is connected by underground passages to the Zaryadye Concert Hall. Very much in keeping with the park’s natural landscape. It holds about 1,500 people enjoying concerts or movies.
The Amphitheater and the Concert Hall have a dazzling glass-bark-facade-roof, the latest architectural miracle. It is a translucent structure that can maintain a comfortable temperature in winter as well. It occupies an area of 8,500 square meters.
3.5. Historic monuments: museums, churches and monasteries
Finally, in the park you can also visit two very interesting museums on Varvarka Street:
- The Chambers of the Romanov Boyars, a historic architectural monument of the 15th and 17th centuries, and birthplace of the first ruler of the dynasty: Czar Mikhail Feodorovich. The Chambers include a museum showing the patriarchal lifestyle of the Moscow nobility in the second half of the 17th century. Tickets: 500 rubles.
- The Old English Court, an architectural monument from the fifteenth century that houses a museum of trade relations between England and Russia from the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Tickets: 250 rubles.
In addition to museums, there are also some churches with a lot of history that you can visit, such as the Church of the Conception of St. Anna, the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara, the Church of St. George the Victorious or the cathedral and the bell tower of the Znamensky Monasteryr.
All these churches are located on Varvarka Street, except for the Church of the Conception of St. Anna (photo below) that is located next to the Moskva River (corner Kitaygorodskiy Proyezd).
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