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Patriarshiye ponds

3.3
Leo Tolstoy used to take his daughter to an ice rink at Patriarshiye Ponds.
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The area of Patriarshiye Ponds is limited by Malaya Bronnaya Street and several lanes, namely Maly Patriarshy, Bolshoy Patriarshy and Ermolaevsky.

This quarter has been known since the end of the 16th century under the name of Koziye Boloto (‘Goat Marsh’) or Kozikha; the name probably had something to do with the abundance of goats. It is no wonder, that the Church of St. Spyridon, the saint patron of shepherds, appeared here in the late 16th century.

The land came under the possession of the Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church after Times of Troubles and became known as Patriarshaya Koziya Sloboda (‘Patriarch’s Goat Quarter’). Cascading ponds were dug here in the early 1680’s on the orders of Patriarch Joachim. The ponds were connected to underground springs and were thus kept clean. There were three ponds, which gave the name to the nearby Trekhprudny (‘Three-Pond’) Lane.

After the fire of 1812, two small ponds of the former Patriarch’s Goat Quarter were destroyed, leaving only one, Bolshoy Patriarshy Pond.

There was a period when the pond’s survival was in danger. The reason for this was the spring flood of 1897. ‘Because of the polluted state of the Patriarshy Pond and a large expenditure of efforts and resources needed to clean it up,’ the Duma considered ‘to fill the pond up with earth,’ especially since ‘its continued existence in a heavily populated area had no real purpose.’ Fortunately, the pond was preserved. ‘We had to drain it completely and fill it with fresh water from Mytishchi’.

When ice skating became a popular pastime in Moscow, many of Moscow ponds were transformed into ice rinks during the winter. The Ice Rink at the Patriarshiy Pond was especially popular among young students since the 1870’s. Leo Tolstoy himself used to bring his daughters here to skate. There were other forms of entertainment available here besides skating, including boating in the summer months, and live concerts and performances  on a stage built for this purpose.

In 1983-85, a slightly larger stone pavilion was built to replace the demolished wooden pavilion put here in 1938 to serve as a dressing room for the ice rink. The new pavilion’s architectural design was very similar to the old one’s.

The Patriarshy Pond is mentioned in many literary works in Russian, but it was certainly immortalized by Mikhail Bulgakov, whose novel The Master and Margaritabegins with the words: ‘At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriarch’s Ponds...’

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