Firstly, if I had realised that there was going to be a part 2, I would have given you advanced warning by naming the earlier blog Gorky Park part 1. But I had no idea that this park could give me so much to write about!
The other day I discovered a forest in the middle of the city, well perhaps not so much of a forest, more of a wood, well actually it’s a park with lots of trees – so definitely makes it a wood! I was well aware that Gorky park extended further than I had actually walked. But until I saw a friend’s photos I assumed that it was just more of the same – formal paths and flower beds. I was wrong! It’s a wood! Having set out to try and take some photographs of the statue of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, I decided to return home through Gorky Park and explore the end that I had not yet ventured into. With a bit of snow I can imagine it feeling a little like walking into Narnia, complete with the lamp post in the woods.
Returning to the history of the park for a moment. As I said in part one, Gorky Park was created on 300 acres of wasteland. What I didn’t say was that part of the wasteland was the gardens of an old estate, or rather three old estates. This section of the Park, known as Neskuchny (RUS)(Нескучный/Not boring), garden was created in the mid 18th Century and was the country home to Prince Nikolay Trubetskoy. Whereas the front half of Gorky Park is flat, the Neskuchny gardens are speckled with ravines and steep slopes down to the river. It was called ‘Not boring’ or ‘Fun’ as the Prince ensured all of his many guests were fully entertained.
Today, as I wandered through the woods, taking far too many photos of silver birches, yellow leaves and benches, I came upon children’s play areas, outdoor fitness zones, some ponds, an aviary appearing to contain a solitary female golden pheasant, and 3 bridges in a row labeled on the park map as Big bridge, Middle bridge and Small Grotesque bridge which I felt was a little harsh!
There was also a very neglected Stalinist Rotunda, built to commemorate Moscow’s 800th anniversary in 1947, which was decorated with memorials to all the wars that Russia had fought. It was surrounded by lamps with loud speakers attached, presumably for broadcasting rousing speeches and music to the proletariat at the time.
Then I found myself back in the formal part of the park where I saw several groups of high school students wrapped up in coats and scarves (it was only 4C) having some outdoor exercise classes, presumably in place of indoor gym due to Covid-19. The outdoor cafes had shut, the flower beds gone along with the girls posing in them, the fountains turned off and the winter ice rink being built.