Zaryadye Park, subtitled ‘wild urbanism’ by its designers, is a wholly new park just off Red Square in Moscow, the first new park in the capital of Russia for fifty years.
There are, apparently, four different zones, to represent the different terrains of Russia, all with their own different microclimates and appropriately chosen plants, geological features, trees and so on to match.
There are also new performance spaces, one indoor built into a hill and one outdoor on top of the hill and all covered up with a fancy dome so you can sit out there even if it is raining. Not sure what they will do about the snow and the sub-zero temperatures, but I daresay you can bring your own cocoa.
There is going to be an underground ice cave, an underground museum of all the archaeological whatsists they found while digging the park, and an underground media centre showing wall to wall films, with surround sound, surround wind machines and surround, I dunno, smellovision about just how awesome Russia is. Although this isn’t quite ready yet.
There is a lovely view onto the back of one of the oldest streets in Moscow, Vavarka Ulitsa, which is lined with churches, the house of the Romanov family back before it became a royal dynasty, and the Old English Court.
There are also a number of vistas across Red Square and the Kremlin, the most impressive of which is from the floating bridge, which sweeps dramatically out over the Moscow River, and then sweeps right back round again, with no visible support (or, you know, actual transportational point).
What there isn’t in Zaryadye Park, though, is a playground. I was not amused.
It has been constructed on the site of the old Rossiya Hotel, a gigantic guesthouse which was legendarily ugly. Ten years ago it was knocked down, and the area spent a long time looking like the abandoned lot it was.
But for the last five years they have been turning it into the ambitiously fabulous public space you now see before you.
This will go nicely with the ambitiously fabulous public space that the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, has been busy turning the whole of central Moscow into in recent years. Mainly, on the surface, by softening the multi-lane highways that used to bulldoze their way through the centre – widening the pavements, planting lots of trees, bushes and benches, renovating squares, rerouting traffic on an impressively ruthless scale, and pedestrianising large numbers of streets altogether.
Of course, this sort of thing costs. And Zaryadye Park itself has cost an absolutely eye-watering amount. But central Moscow is now a really very pleasant place to go wandering around. A very very pleasant place. Mama rather enjoys this, and is somewhat defiant about it.
Which makes it no surprise at all that Mama decided one week after Zaryadye Park had opened would be the perfect time for me and her to go and see it.
So did much of the rest of Moscow.
In fact, it is already in desperate need of replanting, that many visitors have wandered along its paths, wandered off its paths, and trampled willy nilly over the foliage in the seven days since it opened.
And that’s before you take into consideration the fact that some people have allegedly been seen digging up some of the rarer plant specimens and making off with them.
So if you look carefully at the picture down below you can see orange suited workers already trying to make up for some of the damage. Including some standing on the top of the dome of the amphitheatre, as within hours of Zaryadye Park being opened, someone had managed to lob something up there which broke a number of the solar panels.
In fact, while Mama was taking this photo, she was standing next to two policemen, presumably there to protect the last remaining Altai heather orchid or something, who had simply given up trying to stop the mass of humanity from dashing hither and thither across what was left of the rest of the greenery, muttering to each other about how ‘Keep off the grass’ clearly had a meaning they weren’t previously aware of then. Unless someone was doing a bit of particularly blatant plant dancing, in which case they said it a bit louder.
A colleague further on had not yet given up hope but was looking somewhat frazzled as yet another babushka sailed straight past his ineffectual gesticulating with a cheerful, ‘Whoops, sorry, didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to step there.’
Wild urbanism indeed.
Mama, I’m sorry to say, found this quite funny, not least because she gets to say ‘wild urbanism indeed’. But although I was keen to get in on the flora squashing act too (‘EVERYBODY ELSE is walking there, Mama! Why do WE have to stay on the path?’), she only let me stand on some strategically placed rocks right next to the walkway and have my photo taken. Spoil sport.
Anyway. Mama recommends that if you wait about six months everyone might have calmed the fuck down and the park will be the place of marvel and wonder it was conceived to be by the same people who designed the High Line park in New York. Possibly. They might have even added a playground. In the meantime, tread lightly and remember the bridge is only designed to take 4,000 people at once.
Looking for where to go next in Moscow? Try THE guide to Moscow, as written by Mama.
The park’s official website (in Russian).
This is what the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has to say about urbanisation.
Address: Varvarka Street, Moscow, 109012
Opening: Wednesday to Monday 10am to 10pm. On Tuesday it opens at 2pm.
Admission: Entrance to the park is free, but the coming attractions such as the ice cave will cost 600 roubles for adults.
Getting there: The nearest metro station is Kitai Gorod (orange and purple lines). The park is a bout ten minutes down towards the Moscow River from there. Or you can nip across Red Square from Okhotny Ryad/ Teatralnaya/ Ploshard Revolutsi (red, green and dark blue lines). Parking, what parking? How can they fit parking in with all the newly pedestrianised streets to accommodate?
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33 thoughts on “Going wild at Zaryadye Park near Red Square in Moscow”
This sounds like a fabulously ambitious park, although the lack of a playground IS perplexing! I think I’m most excited (in the imaginary trip I’m planning) about the ice cave. I’ve never been in an ice cave before!
Us neither. We’ll be back as soon as it opens…
Wow -what an incredible park! Love the idea of areas with micro-climates representing different terrains of Russia.
Yes. I do wonder if they mean ‘when it gets cold it will be Siberia, in spring…’
Looks like an awesome new park with more to come! #CityTripping
Looking forward to it!
What a transformation, I guess I can understand why it’s been inundated with visitors. Hopefully like you say it will get a bit of a chance to recover once people get used to it being there. Fabulous creation #citytripping
I hope so. I worry that they have wildly underestimaed its long term pulling power though. It’s not a very robust sort of area in some ways.
Love the fact that they have recreated the different terrains and landscapes of Russia in the park. That’s such a cool idea!
I always find the size of Russia faintly worrying in an agoraphobic kind of way, but it is a good idea!
I like the idea of various parts of the park that should represent different zones of Russia. It actually sounds like one lovely project, apart from crowds and “wild urbanism” and such. 😀 You’ve made me laugh at some paragraphs, don’t know if that was the intention. 😉
Anyway, I do believe that large parks are always a good idea, especially if the area was abandoned before. Would love to visit in six months or so! 😀
Oh, making people laugh was indeed the intention. In places, anyway. Glad you did!
Hahaha, wait six months you say? Good to see mama is teaching you some fine language 😉 The park does look beautiful, and staying on the paths is a sure fire way to help maintain this!
Herself doesn’t get to use the extended adult vocab. Unfair, I know, but parents have to have some perks.
No playground! Outrageous. What were they thinking? Even so, cities come alive with green spaces. I am not surprised the people of Moscow are enjoying Zaryadye park having had to wait for 50 years. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
Oh I would not want you thinking Moscow us underparked. There are many parks, and an entire pedestrianised leafy boulevard circling the centre. Arguably, the reason they haven’t built a new one for fifty years is because (whisper it) Moscow didn’t really need one…
This does sound rather fabulously ambitious – what an amazing project. But what a shame that it’s already so badly damaged, hopefully people will get the hang on paths and not throwing things before too long before the wild takes over the wild. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
I think they just underestimated the level of interest. There are a lot of people in Moscow if they all turn up somewhere at once.
What a brilliant place to explore. Such a shame they didn’t add a playground! What were they thinking?
It’s a very hipster design frim… They did the High Line in New York too, I gather.
Love this post. Really sad about stealing all the plants…and crushing them.
It is a shame. Mind you, they’ll get covered in snow in a month anyway, so…
OMG, the park-goers sound like a bunch of hooligans. Who steals plants and throws things in a public park??? Sooo opposite of where we live here in Seoul, where the citizens DARE not do such a thing – but in truth it’s super refreshing to live somewhere where you literally don’t have to worry about vandalism or theft at all. Still would love to get back to Moscow though – bet it’s changed a lot since I was there during communism on a school trip at 13… 😉 #farawayfiles
To be fair, most people were sticking to the paths, it’s just that there were so many people. I didn;t actually see anyone nicking the plabts while I was there either. Still, it is a shame it got overrun!
Sounds like utter chaos! Wild urbanism indeed! Hope the frenzy settles soon and you get a playground soon! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles
I’ve read a lot of positive changes in central Moscow, mostly from people’s trip reports, and the city looks very pleasant indeed. Hope to visit Zaryadye Park and other places nearby one day. I’ve been to the Russian capital only once when I was 10 years old – it was a school trip, I was tired, exhausted and don’t remember much. Thanks for the interesting post!
Designers added a playground to this park. 🙂