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Regular version of the site

Seven Interesting Sights Near HSE Campuses in Moscow and St. Petersburg

From the organizers of the HSE RUN cultural and historical quest

One traditional HSE RUN quest took place in Moscow on May 16 and a second will be held in St. Petersburg on May 30.

Participants will learn more about Russia’s two largest cities, discover many new places, improve their orienteering and rapid riddle-solving skills, develop their resourcefulness and ingenuity, and simply enjoy being out and about with friends.

The student organisation Ingroup StS has held the HSE RUN every year for the last decade. Although it held the quest online in 2020, it will return to offline format this year. That makes this the perfect time to take a stroll down History Lane and visit memorial sites. The HSE RUN team has compiled a selection of attractions located near the HSE academic campuses.

Shukov Tower

This structure catches the eye of anyone exiting the Shabolovskaya metro station. Shukhov Tower is the first television tower in Russia to reach a height of 160 m. (525 ft.). Construction lasted two years, from 1920 until 1922, and was initiated by order of Vladimir Lenin himself. Plans originally called for the tower to reach a height of 350 m., or 26 m. higher than the Eiffel Tower. However, there was a serious shortage of metal in Russia when construction began, a fact reflected in the finished structure. Shukhov Tower is now considered a historical monument of Russian culture. As recently as 2019, engineers refitted the Tower to withstand accidents and assure us that it will stand for many years into the future!

The Main House of the Saltykov-Chertkov Estate

While walking to the main HSE building on Myasnitskaya Street, how often have you noticed the blue mansion? It turns out that this is the Saltykov-Chertkov estate. It dates back to 1787 and was designed by architect Semyon Karin. Legend states that Napoleon himself spent a night in this mansion during the War of 1812, but there is no supporting documentation for this claim.

Many people are more familiar with this building as the Chertkov house. Colonel Chertkov settled here in 1831. An archeology and numismatics enthusiast, he also assembled a major library of 20,000 books here. Pushkin, Tolstoy and Gogol have all visited this home. The Chertkov estate is now used for large-scale cultural events and exhibitions.

The Apraksin-Trubetskoy Palace

This light-blue house on Pokrovka Street looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s right, it closely resembles the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. According to legend, this was a ‘demo version’ of the more famous building and a gift from the Empress Elizabeth to her secret husband. More recently, the building’s square shape has earned it the nickname of ‘The Chest of Drawers House’. Construction of the Apraskin-Trubetsky Palace began back in 1766 and was only completed by 1775, when it was sold to Count Trubetsky.

The building was sold in the 19th century, after which it housed the newly-founded Fourth Moscow Men’s Preparatory School, whose graduates include Nikolay Zhukovsky, the founder of hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, Konstantin Stanislavsky, founder of the Moscow Art Theatre, and a number of other famous individuals. Today, the building is rented out to various organizations for commercial use.

The Nirnsee House

This tall building, located on Bolshoy Gnezdnikovsky Lane, is considered Moscow’s first skyscraper — or ‘cloud-cutter’, as it was called in Russian at the time. Construction was completed in just one year. It contains eight stories and one ‘hidden’ floor on top that serves as an observation deck.

This building is famous not only for its ‘height’. Many celebrities visited it, including Vladimir Mayakovsky, Fyodor Shalyapin, Konstantin Stanislsavsky, Konstantin Paustovsky, Korney Chukovsky and others. The Nirnsee House — or ‘House of Bachelors’, as it was originally called — is also the site where Mikhail Bulgakov first met Elena Shilovskaya, who later became the prototype of the character Margarita, and where the lead character of the film Office Romance, Anatoly Novoseltsev met his love interest, Lyudmila Prokofievna.

This quest was held on May 16, with both individuals and teams participating.

Kantemirovsky Bridge

It is well known that St. Petersburg, Russia’s ‘northern capital’, has a never-ending number of bridges — 342 at least. Each has its own history and is a tourist attraction in its own right. Kantemirovsky Bridge, that spans the Great Neva River, is considered the newest drawbridge in St. Petersburg. It opened to traffic only 39 years ago, in 1982. It takes its name from Kantemirovskaya Street, which itself was named in honor of the liberation of Kantemirovka village from the Nazis.

The bridge now links Kantemirovskaya Street with the beautiful Vyborg embankment and attracts numerous tourists eager to capture the picturesque setting in photos.

By the way, the HSE building near the bridge on Kantemirovskaya Street, was once a weaving mill. It changed names and owners many times during the ensuing century, until it became the HSE School of Economics and Management in 2015.

Kirov Department Store

The Kirov Department store originally combined two functions: factory kitchen and department store. The building was erected in 1931 in the constructivist style, which was then in its heyday. The kitchen served a number of industrial enterprises and was the first in Russia to offer self-service line to customers. The department store occupied the building that faces the square. The second building that opens into the square with greenery housed the dining halls. Not a trace of the industrial kitchen remains today: a large department store now fills that space.

Griboyedov Canal

Not far from one HSE building in St. Petersburg is the famous Griboyedov Canal, earlier known as the Catherine Canal in honor of Empress Catherine the Great. It begins from the Field of Mars, crosses Nevsky Prospekt and empties into the Fontanka River. Twenty-one bridges span the canal, the most famous of which are the Teatralny and Novo-Konyushenny Bridges. If you decide to take a boat ride along the canal or walk along the embankment, you will encounter such sights as the Church of the Saviour on Blood, the Singer building, Kazan Cathedral, Voznesensky Bridge and many others.

A debate still rages over whom the canal was named after. Was it in honor of the great writer, Alexander Griboyedov? Or was it a deceased revolutionary or engineer of the same surname? No one knows. However, the author did live in one of the houses along the canal embankment, lending credence to the first theory.

The St. Petersburg quest will be held on May 30. Find full details in the group on Vkontakte.

May 21, 2021