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Alexander Garden, Moscow

Alexander Garden is one of the oldest and most famous parks of the capital, central in the city, if you count from the limits of the Kremlin walls. Its official history begins in 1820, but while walking along its alleys, we can observe visible traces of epochs much more ancient. In fact, this is the place from which Moscow began.

The garden consists of three parts. Upper Aleksandrovsky stretches from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the Trinity Bridge, Medium from the bridge to the Borovitsky Gate, and there is also a small Nizhny, adjacent to the Kremlin Embankment, which is now closed for some reason. The gardens are located along the western wall of the Kremlin and follow the riverbed of the now defunct, but most important for the Moscow history of the river Neglinka. Three geographical components of the beginning of the capital are the Moscow River, the Neglinka and Borovitskaya Mountain (the uncultivated slope of which can be seen in the Middle Garden, at the base of the Kremlin Armory Tower). But the decisive role for the emergence of the city on this cape was played by the intersection of quite ancient roads connecting Kiev, Novgorod and Rostov. They met at the ford via Neglinka - it is there that the garden cuts through the Trinity Bridge, the main entrance to the current Kremlin.

By the beginning of the 16th century, upon the completion of the construction of the fortress walls, Italian fortifiers had filled up a narrow and meandering Neglinka. The scale of this work became clear only during the archaeological works of the 1990s: it turned out that for almost a century the Kremlin stood, reflected in the waters of the spacious lake. The entire territory of the present garden and most of the Manege Square were flooded. In the 17th century, there were a little more modest Neglimen ponds, in which sterlets, perches and carps were bred to the royal table, and along their shores were also the lands of the royal Apothecary garden. By the middle of the XVIII century, the fish began to die of the city rubbish, and it had to be evacuated to Presnya. In the summer, cows grazed on the shores of Neglinka, in the winter there were sleigh rides.

After the devastation of 1812, the territory came to a complete desolation, and a few years later, at the conclusion of Neglinka into the pipe, according to the project of Osip Bove, the Alexander Garden was laid out here - an unofficial monument to the revival of Moscow. Its solemn gates are decorated with triumphal symbolism, its fountain (preserved at the Trinity Bridge, but now plays the role of a ventilation chamber) is resolved as an ancient altar, its grotto is an ancient ruin with mighty columns and figures of lions lying. The walls of the grotto are made up of fragments of buildings that died in 1812. There was no need to go far behind them - basically they were carved blocks from the walls of the neighboring Arsenal, blown up by the French during the retreat.

At first, the garden was simply called the Kremlin, but in 1856 it was renamed in honor of Emperor Alexander I. This name has become so familiar that the Bolsheviks, it seems, did not even remember to rename it. Triumphal symbolism, solved in the forms of romanticism, allowed the garden to remain intimate and cozy. His layout was more complex and picturesque than now, an orchestra played in the grotto.

Just before the revolution, behind the main gate of the garden, they placed an obelisk in memory of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. In 1918, immediately after the arrival of the Soviet government in the city, it was decided to remove the names of the tyrants and the heraldry of the fallen regime from the granite surface of the obelisk, and instead of it put the inscription “RSFSR” (perhaps the first appearance of this abbreviations in granite). As well as a list of the names of the right thinkers, from Campanella to Engels. But since the “Romanov” carved decoration was not completely removed, a strange stratification of meanings turned out - the last monument of tsarism, hidden inside the first monument of Soviet power. True stories as it is.

In 1966, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier appeared in the Upper Garden - the most modest and one of the most powerful military monuments of the Soviet era. At the end of 1997, State Post No. 1 was moved here from the Mausoleum, the changing of the guard of which is an hourly ritual, but always in demand by numerous viewers (the change is held from 8 am to 8 pm).

Until the 1990s, the Alexander Garden lived its smooth, shady life and did not know the big shocks. The reconstruction of the Manege Square rather strongly changed the character of its upper sector: a number of reservoirs appeared on the outside, interpreted as a symbolic return of Neglinka (the underground course of which, by the way, was transferred to the new collector under Kitay-gorod as early as the 1970s). The pools, decorated with the bronze characters of Russian fairy tales, the work of sculptor Tsereteli, are closed with a composition of four half-breeding stallions, which quite uniquely complements the established memorial of the Russian-Soviet battle glory.

In recent years, the garden has been waiting for a series of rather unexpected shocks, mainly due to its ambiguous status. On the one hand, there is a monument of landscape architecture and UNESCO territory, on the other hand, there is an office of the Presidential Administration, which rarely announces its plans in advance. The consequence of this duality was a completely unexpected change in the tactics of landscaping the garden - a significant part of the Soviet linden trees in the upper sector was cut down, but in the middle part there were a lot of young trees planted close to the Kremlin wall. Further more, and in 2013, a formidable monument to Patriarch Hermogenes appeared on the axis between the grotto and Tsereteli's horses. Following the Romanov-Lenin obelisk was rotated 90 degrees and completely ceased to be Lenin's — all the old inscriptions were cut off again. They were replaced by a highly conditional imitation of the Romanov decor, as a result of which the original of 1914 did not resurrect, and the original of 1918 died.

It is rumored that the monumental sculptors are not averse to continuing to seal the old garden with their creations. However, I would very much like to believe that the strange adventures of Aleksandrovsky will finally end. An abundance of monuments can drown out his quiet, wondrous music. But couples lying on lawns and even graduates frolicking in the fountains - by no means. Notice: until recently, the local security was extremely strictly monitoring the observance of the requirement “Do not walk on lawns”, and it seemed that the garden was really intended only for the laying of wreaths. But now, both walking and reclining have a slight relief, and the garden has definitely changed for the better, and most importantly, for the true garden side.

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