Never Talk With Strangers
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 - Never 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 of 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.
In recent years the Patriarch's park has been subject of many disputes in Moscow. There were plans for the construction of a parking garage, shops and a casino. With the renovation, Krylov's statue would disappear and be replaced by a tribute to Bulgakov: a sculpture group worth some couples of million euro. A primus of twelve meter of height would camouflage the pumping unit of the pond. Around it Woland and his gang, the master, Margarita and Pontius Pilate would arise. Yeshua Ha-Nozri, Bulgakov's version of Jesus, would walk on the water.
For more than a year the rustic park was a construction site. Krylov's statue was gone, but nobody knew what would happen. The neighbours presented a petition against the plans. The idea of the parking garage and the shopping mall was blown off and in May 2004 the Moscow Council for the Renovation of the City decided to have the sculpture group elsewhere, on Sparrow Hills. The year before, sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov, to whom the project was entrusted, had already distanced himself from it in public.
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.
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.
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.
Since July 2011, he Pavilion restaurant is 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 can 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…
Bolshoy Patriarshiy pereulok, 7
+7 (495) 697-51-10
Metro: Маяковская (Mayakovskaya)