- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Gorky Park, Moscow
Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is a central park in Moscow, named after Maxim Gorky.
Laid out in 1928, this was the first park of its kind, and the prototype for hundreds of others across the Soviet Union.
The park stretches along the banks of the Moscow River, and is divided into two parts. The first is primarily of interest to children or those trying to entertain them, as it contains a range of funfair rides and rollercoasters - some safer looking than others, although they are being upgraded all the time. You can also hire boats or horses, go bungee jumping, and there's a sports club with tennis courts. In winter the whole area becomes a vast skating rink with skate hire, disco lights and music to match. In summer the "beach" area is hugely popular with sun-worshippers, and becomes an open air club in the evenings.
The other, older, half of the park is considerably more restrained, consisting of formal gardens and woodland that combine the former Golitsynskiy and Neskuchniy Gardens, names that crop up regularly in Russian literary classics. There are a number of fine old buildings dating from the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, including two summerhouses by the great Moscow architect Mikhail Kazakov (who designed the Senate Building in the Kremlin), and the first City Hospital. Nearby is the enormous Green Theater, an outdoor amphitheater that hosts various gigs and concerts in the summer months.
Gorky Park's attractions are generally more appealing for locals than for tourists but it's the place to come if you want to find out how the majority of Muscovites spend their free time.