A District’s Name Can Tell You A Lot About Its History
1147, (the year the city is first mentioned in historical chronicles), is considered the official date of the foundation of Moscow. From its humble beginnings as a small settlement lost in the forests, the city grew to the point where it became capital of the Russian Federation.
The city’s history is indelibly imprinted in the names of its streets and districts. Though the names often don’t even have meaning to Russian citizens, they are full of history and funny stories that have become part of the fabric of everyday life.
Big Time Moscow has decided to start a historical column which will feature a collection of interesting historical facts.
•Babushkinskaya District (Grandmothers’ District in Russian): No, there aren’t a lot of grandmothers here!
•Maryina Roshcha (Mary’s Grove in Russian): This district was named after the leader Maria Roshcha, who controlled a gang of robbers, active in the forests of the 14th century.
•Arbat District is named after the street of the same name, derived from the word ‘arba,’ meaning ‘cart.’
• Zamoskvorechye (‘Behind the Moscow River’ in Russian): Unsurprisingly, the name originates from the phrase ‘a district behind the Moscow River.’ The first mention of this place dates back to 1365.
•Tagansky District: the name originates from the Taganskaya Crafts Village along the Yauza River. Its inhabitants produced copper tripods which soldiers in the regular army used on campaign.
•Khamovniki District: At one time this was the location of a large Hamovnaya Crafts Village, where many weavers lived. The word Khamovniki is derived from the word ‘ham’ which referred to flaxen linen in the 14th century.
• Bibirevo District:There are two different versions of how this area got its name.
It either comes from the word ‘Bibir’ (meaning ‘beaver’ in Russian), or from the fact that it was a settlement of Prince Bobrowniki, in which people in ancient times were granted the right to hunt beavers here.
• Zhulebino District: The first mention of this district was in 1645. It was named after Andrew Osteev, a representative of the Boyar family (wealthy merchants in medieval Russia), whose nickname was ‘Zhuleba,’ meaning ‘sly.’ However, we cannot vouch for whether or not the modern residents are sly!