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What to look for in Southwest Moscow

The history of the area, the temple, and other locations


Building from the movie The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath


Start your discovery of the Southwest of the capital with a complex of what are perhaps the most famous new Soviet-era buildings, which are familiar even to those who have never been to Moscow, but who have seen the New Year’s comedy The Irony of Fate at least once. In the movie, the building where Nadya Shevelyova lives and Zhenya Lukashin turns up is located at 25 3rd Stroiteley Street. In reality, the buildings are located at 113, 125, and 119 Vernadskogo Avenue in Moscow. The movie begins with a cartoon about the dominance of repetitive architecture and shots of landscapes familiar to anyone who lives near Yugo-Zapadnaya metro station. In fact, these buildings were never typical: they were built as part of the experimental I-99-47/406 series. At that time, the apartments were distinctive for their spacious kitchens, for example.


In December 2003, a memorial plaque dedicated to the most festive Russian holiday movie was installed at 125 Vernadskogo Avenue. It depicts the faces of the main actors, Andrey Myagkov and Barbara Brylska, with a background of a Christmas tree, a guitar, and champagne. The memorial was unveiled by Eldar Ryazanov himself. A few years later, signs depicting Lukashin’s briefcase with a bath broom sticking out of it appeared on the other entrances. One says “Here lived Zhenya Lukashin,” and the other says “Here lived Nadya Shevelyova.”

Church of the Archangel Michael in Troparyovo


This is another landmark in The Irony of Fate. You may recall that in some scenes show a building that is not very typical for an area of panel buildings: a church built in the Naryshkin Baroque style. For example, Zhenya Lukashin looks at it from his window. It is the Church of the Archangel Michael in Troparyovo, built in the late 17th century. This period in church architecture is marked by the transition from the Ukrainian style to the Moscow, or Naryshkin, style. The architectural monument is built of red stone and has five-domes, with a three-tiered, hipped bell tower, a richly decorated facade, and carved platbands.


Before the October Revolution, it was the parish of the village of Troparyovo, but the church was closed in 1939, its interiors were vandalized, the bells were thrown down, and the premises were used for various purposes: in the sixties, the Mosfilm studio even stored movie props in it. The church was restored in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Restoration work was carried out inside, and new bells were specially cast at a factory in the Urals. Thanks to the parishioners, however, one bell has been preserved from the late 1930s. During the demolition of the Church in Troparyovo, the bell was saved and later transferred to Theater Southwest, located across from the church, where it remained until 1989.

Theater Southwest


It’s not hard to find, because it is right across from the church. It is remarkable, because it was born as an amateur studio and then became nationally famous. The theater was founded in 1977 by director Valery Belyakovich, who remains its permanent artistic director. Initially, the amateur theater studio was a place for workers and students from the southwestern districts of Moscow. Belyakovich set the goal of developing a unified school of acting related to common, folk theater. Vaudeville was named the “people’s” genre, and the play A Lesson to Daughters, based on the fables of Ivan Krylov was added to the already prepared performance Trouble from a Tender Heart. It was at this point that a unique actors’ ensemble began to emerge: brother and sister Viktor Avilov and Olga Avilova and other actors who made the basement studio on Vernadskogo Avenue famous all over the world performed on the stage. About 40 performances based on Russian and foreign classics, from Shakespeare to Gorky and modern authors, from Vladimir Sorokin to Viktor Yerofeyev, are now staged. One of Theater Southwest’s most famous performances is Dogs. Valery Belyakovich first staged the parable of a stray dogs’ fate back in 1987. It has almost always been on the playbill since then. The only characters are animals, who tell each other about the people who abandoned them.

Vorontsovsky Park


This park and garden ensemble and old manor house in the southwest of Moscow have long been a favorite recreation spot for Muscovites. In addition to the standard set of summer and winter activities (including ski and boat rental), there is something that will appeal to fans of nature, history, and quiet beauty. For example, one may recall Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace: Pierre Bezukhov visits the area to see the balloon, the “flying war boat” which Russian Emperor Alexander I intended to use in battles against Napoleon’s army. Indeed, for a short time in 1812, Vorontsovo became a secret workshop, where the German inventor and gentleman of fortune Franz Leppich worked on the balloon all summer. The manor suffered after the Patriotic War of 1812: it was looted and burned by the French during the retreat. Vorontsovo was the property of various private owners through most of the 19th century, and in Soviet times, it was adapted for the needs of nearby state farms. The restoration of the park complex began in the early 2000s. In addition to the park’s architectural elements, such as the park entrance, with its arched gates and white spires, the guardhouse, and the house itself, the centuries-old Vorontsov oaks on the park’s central park remind us of its history. Some of the trees 200–250 years old.

Great Moscow State Circus on Vernadskogo Avenue


The construction of the circus began in 1960. The new building was designed by architect Stepan Satunets. The marquee on Sparrow Hills appeared in 1971. At that time, it was the largest circus in Europe, with seating capacity for 3,400 spectators. Its dome looks like a heavy cloth hanging in folds over the arena. Instead of blank facades, it is surrounded with glass walls, and the interior has bronze reliefs of circus performers and marble panels. Six changeable rings were designed especially for the new circus, of which five are still in use. It takes just a couple of minutes to change them. Yellow upholstered seating rose in a circle to the very dome, and everything could be seen and heard from anywhere in the hall.


Spectators attended to see the legendary “sunny clown” Oleg Popov and Irina Bugrimova, a famous animal trainer, who went into the arena on her own with twelve lions, and even soared under the dome of the circus with a great predator. Now, they come to the Great Moscow Circus to enjoy the performances of representatives of a famous circus dynasty, brothers Edgar and Askold Zapashny, to be paralyzed with fear, to experience excitement, and to give a big hand.

Belyaevo Gallery and District Identity Center


This location allows visitors to study the history of Russian informal art. The gallery in the southwest of Moscow opened its doors in 1988 and hosted the first exhibitions of Soviet nonconformist artists, including Ernst Neizvestny, Oscar Rabin, Eduard Steinberg, and Yevgeny Kropivnitsky. It is located at the intersection of Ostrovityanova and Profsoyuznaya Streets, where the iconic Bulldozer Exhibition took place, and where Dmitry Prigov, one of the most prominent representatives of the Moscow conceptual school, lived and worked. The gallery now hosts exhibitions of contemporary artists working with graphics, objects, sculpture, painting, and photography and video.


Since November 2019, the permanent Center of Identity – District Museum exhibition has been open at the Belyaevo Gallery. It tells the history of the area and its residents through memories, archival materials, belongings, family photos, and amateur films. Another new space in the gallery is the Varga Exhibition Hall (Varga EH), which, among other things, features creative and intellectual studios for children of all ages.



The southwest also features an affordable cafe from the Moremaniya chain. it serves lunch and dinner, sells fresh fish, and at the same, offers the feeling of walking through the fish market of a town by the Mediterranean Sea. It works very simply: guests point at the fish they like on the counter, and it is immediately cooked and served with butter, herbs, lemon, and garlic oil. The service costs 200 rub. There is a menu available for those who do not wish to choose their own fish. It includes trout and salmon tartare, scallop carpaccio on a tomato plateau, poke with tuna or salmon, pasta with seafood or fish, bouillabaisse, spicy tom yum, and pho with young octopus. Deep-fried shrimp, squid, and smelt are served with glasses of white wine. The most expensive dish on the menu costs 599 rubles. And that is another advantage of this venue: quality products and low prices.

Cover photo: Vorontsovsky Park

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