Patriarch's Ponds

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In Russian this park is called Патриарши пруды (Patriarshiy Prudy), in English Patriarch's Ponds. «Ponds» is in plural. Although there is only one pond in this park situated between Malaya Bronnaya ulitsa in the east, Bolshoi Patriarshy pereulok in the south, Patriarshy pereulok in the west, and Yermolaevsky pereulok  in the north. It’s a big pond surrounded by a wide footpath with benches. Bulgakov lived nearby for some years in Bolshaya Sadovaya ulitsa or the Big Garden street.

The name of the pond refers to the Patriarch, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who had his residence close to the park. In the past there were three ponds, as suggested by the name af a street nearby:  Trekhproedny pereulok or Threeponds avenue. In 1918, after the revolution, the ponds were renamed Pioneers' Ponds.

In The Master and Margarita, a round  dark object was thrown up the cobbled slope below  the fence of the Patriarch's walk. It was the severed head of Berlioz. With this phrase the key is given for the rest of the novel. Woland is de devil himself who raises hell in Moscow for a couple of days with his companions. That's why Bulgakov gives us the following good advise: «Никогда не разговаривайте с неизвестными» or «Never talk with strangers»...


Where is the tramway?

The tram-car that will decapitate Berlioz «came racing along, turning down the newly laid line from Yermolaevsky to Bronnaya». Bulgakov needed to mention that the line was «newly» laid, because most historians agree that there was no tramway at that place. But the influence of Bulgakov's novel has resulted in many Muscovites «recalling» such a line.

However, in a long interview, published by literary critic and psychologist Leonid Parshin (1944-2010), Tatiana Lappa (1892-1982), Bulgakov's first wife said: «There was a tramway on Bolshaya Sadovaya, but not along the Patriarch's Ponds. We lived there for several years, and there was no tramway».

Boris Myagkov (1938-2003), a literature researcher who wrote several books about Bulgakov, said he had found a newspaper article from 1929, in which it was written that the construction of a tram line along Malaya Bronnaya and Spiridonovka was planned. Thorough investigation in the archives of the Управление организации пассажирских перевозок or the Administration of the Organization of Public Transport in Moscow, and several interviews with former employees of this organisation have not given any evidence of it, though.


Do Not Talk with Strangers

The Patriarch's park is still a popular place in Moscow, just because of this association with Bulgakov. Because of this popularity the soviet authorities placed there a statue of the classic fabulist Ivan Andreevich Krylov (1769-1844) in the ´70's. But it was of no avail. The Muscovites kept on associating the park with the autor of The Master and Margarita. In front of the park is the Café Margarita, a cult café for amateurs of Bulgakov and black magic.

On June 20, 2012, the connectedness of the Patriarch's Ponds with The Master and Margarita was again illustrated when a unique road sign turned out to be placed there overnight. It's a prohibition sign, showing the well-known silhouettes of Professor Woland, accompanied by his henchmen Koroviev and Behemoth. Under the sign is mentioned what exactly is supposed to be prohibited: Запрещено разговаривать ц незнакомцами or Do Not Talk with Strangers. The brains behind the operation appeared to be a certain Aleksandr Vilensky from Moscow and he would have been supported by the Bulgakov House, the museum and theatre situated on the ground floor of Bolshaya Savodaya ulitsa number 10.

The prefecture of the Central District of the city of Moscow said in a reaction that the sign is not legal, but they are not considering to remove it. «It does not hurt anybody, and it serves as a reminder of the immortal work of Mikhail Bulgakov», a spokesman of the prefecture said.


Disputes

Tourists who are visiting the Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow, will find a huge monument there, but are often surprised to see that it is a monument to the Russian fabulist Ivan Krylov, and not to Mikhail Bulgakov or The Master and Margarita. Does the city of Moscow not know that many people associate the Patriarch's Ponds with our beloved novel? They sure do. In 2002 and 2003, when your webmaster had just discovered The Master and Margarita, the area of the Patriarch Pond in Moscow was even in turmoil on this issue. On December 6, 2002, works had been started for the construction of a monument to Mikhail Bulgakov. Excavators were used to clean the Patriarch's Ponds and to build a large pumping plant that would function as a fountain in the form of a giant-sized primus stove, as part of the monument. Around this primus, characters of The Master and Margarita would be depicted. On December 8, 2002, however, there have been fierce protests against the monument. The dimensions of the primus, as well as the parking garage and the shopping center that were to be constructed together with it, were heavily criticized.

As a result of the efforts of, among others, Aleksandr Morozov, a self-proclaimed «Saviour of the House of Bulkagov» the atmosphere was so heated that sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov announced, on February 6, 2003, that he no longer wanted to cooperate with the monument.

Click here to read more about the opposition against the monument

The place at the Patriarch’s Ponds is now restored in its former glory, and Krylov is back on his bench.

In October 2012, the pond became hot news again by the decision of the Department of Culture of the city of Moscow to entrust the management of the Museum M.A. Bulgakov, which is situated in the nearby apartment number 50 of Bolshaya Sadovaya ulitsa number 10, to the Italian architect Gabriele Filippini and his Russian wife Olga Moskvina. In their project, they included a floating installation on Patriarch's Ponds. But we may use a typical Russian saying here: «Посмотрим» [posmotrim] or «We'll see», since nothing has happened since.


New developments

In November 2015, with the 125th anniversary of Bulgakov coming up, the Department of Monuments of the city had given its approval to an initiative of the Bulgakov House to use some of Rukavishnikov’s sculptures to highlight a tourist walk from Patriarch's Ponds to the Bulgakov House on Bolshaya Sadovaya ulitsa no. 10.

The notorious primus stove would not be part of it, but Bulgakov himself would be sitting on a bench at the pond, near the road sign with the words «Never talk to strangers», which was placed there by «unknown people» on June 20, 2012. The news was announced by Nikolay Golubev, the director of the Bulgakov House, to the newspaper Izvestia. According to Golubev, this spot is exactly the place where the conversation between Mikhail Berlioz, Ivan Bezdomny and Woland has been situated by Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita.

Rukavishnikov himself was not so keen on the fact that his monument would be divided into pieces, but he was glad that his sculptures, which have been lying in storage for more than 15 years, would finally see the light of day. «I designed an interesting, unusual architectural monument, of which nothing is really left. But I suppose this is better than nothing,» he said. We are wondering how that is going to end


Café Margarita

At the east side of the Patriarch's Pond, on Malaya Bronnaya ulitsa 28, you will find Café Margarita. The front door of this small, intimate café is marked by a colourful mural, depicting a scene from The Master and Margarita. This has long been a favourite with tourists and locals.

Click here to read more about Café Margarita


The Pavilion

In March 2011, the Restaurant Syndicate, which also owns the famous restaurant Oblomov in Moscow, opened the restaurant Pavilion in the beautiful and striking yellow mansion that marks the Ponds.

In July 2011, he Pavilion restaurant was more than ever linked to The Master and Margarita, since its menu started offering all the dishes which Mikhail Bulgakov eulogized in the dialogue between the guests Amvrosy and Foka in front of the Griboedov house.

In an exceptionally beautiful setting, you could enjoy perch au naturel, eggs en cocotte, soup printanier and sterlet slices interlaid with crayfish tails, while overlooking the ponds where, at the hour of the hot spring sunset two citizens appeared. I haven’t seen the famous Fliyaki gospodarskye on the menu though…

Restaurant Pavilion
Bolshoy Patriarshiy pereulok, 7
+7 (495) 697-51-10

Click here to visit the website of restaurant Pavilion


Metro: Маяковская
(Mayakovskaya)



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