Cultural heritage sites and their status

February 5

Moscow has 8,602 cultural landmarks, including separate historical buildings, complexes and heritage sites. Many of them are considered by the city like their visiting cards. 6,339 landmarks are included in the Unified State Register, a nationwide database of cultural heritage sites. Another 2,263 places are waiting to be evaluated.

In 2020, seven landmarks were newly discovered; 21 of the previously recognised were included in the register. Among them are a building dating back to the second half of the 19th century on Vspolny Pereulok (it became famous in the early 20th century when it housed the editorial board of the journal, Issues of Philosophy and Psychology), as well as a Timiryazev Agricultural Academy dormitory, an example of civil architecture of the late 19th century, and part of the historical complex of the Peter Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.

Who can submit a new landmark?

According to the current law, any interested person can make an application to include a potential historical building or site in Moscow in the register.

At the initiative of the public, a whole number of buildings were included in the register. For instance, the residential building of the USSR Ministry of Armed Forces on Goncharnaya Street, built between 1950 and 1953 for the senior officers of the Great Patriotic War. The plans for the building were drawn up by architects Lev Rudnev and Ilya Chernyavsky. 

The register also lists the revenue house of merchant Kazimir Klingsland on Bolshoi Kozikhinsky Pereulok. It is a vivid example of the early Moscow Art Nouveau style.

What to do?

If a person thinks an unregistered landmark should get listed, they should collect documents that prove its historical and cultural value (for instance, archival material). They then need to submit this to the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage, and fill out a form with information about the place, its history and location, plus add several photos. Applicant’s name, position and postal or email address should also be given.  

These rules apply to all kinds of historical monuments except places of archaeological importance, in which case the applicant needs to get special permission.

Assessment criteria

Department experts accept the application and then carefully research the place assessing its historical, cultural and architectural value. They have only 90 working days to do this.

Using a point-based system, experts take into account a number of criteria. One of them is the age of the landmark. Buildings of the 17th-18th centuries are considered the rarest and most valuable. Places must also be at least  40 years old, but exceptions can be made for a memorial flat or the house of a prominent Russian public figure.

The architect’s status also influences the decision. Buildings by world renowned architects and those who made innovations in the history of Russian and international architecture will receive the highest point.

Another important thing is the assessment of the preservation and uniqueness of the building’s interior and exterior (structure, facades, external features), as well as the historical area. Experts also consider the building’s urban role: additional points can be given if the future landmark is located on a square and can be seen in the panoramic images of the city.

“For each of the criteria there is a numeric scale. The existence or absence of historical and cultural value of a place that has features of a cultural heritage landmark is determined using the sum of the points of each criterion,” said Sofya Rozhdestvenskaya, head of the directorate of state recording and experts of cultural heritage landmarks at Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage. “All the numeric values were outlined in accordance with a preliminary expert assessment tested experimentally at various types of Moscow landmarks such as buildings of the 18th-19th centuries, revenue houses, industrial architecture and architecture of the 1930s.”

If a landmark receives over 200 points, it will be recognised as a newly discovered cultural landmark. After receiving this status, it will get state protection, and its borders will be outlined. Then, it will be prohibited to do any major construction work on that particular site. The arbitrary redesigning of the building, changing its space, number of floors, the roof, building additions and other structures will be considered illegal. Any economic activity that may harm the building will also be prohibited.

Unlike the owners of registered landmarks, the owners of newly discovered landmarks are not obliged to renovate the building. The rest of the job to preserve the historical look of the landmark must be done in full though.

Next step

State expertise sessions with the participation of historians, architects and restorers accredited by the Ministry of Culture will be held. Following research, experts will suggest the category of a federal, regional or place of local importance and the protected object, that is, the description of all features of the building that are protected and subject to scientific renovation. In addition to this, at this stage the borders of the landmark are outlined. The final step is public discussion: the expertise statement will be published on the department’s website and people will be able to comment.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko,

Why a landmark does not get included in the register?

There are several reasons why a newly discovered landmark is not listed in the register.

“A state expert can turn down the application based on the analysis of the archival material and a field visit. The main reason can be a total physical loss of the building or the loss of its historical and cultural value,” Rozhdestvenskaya said.

If there is only a partial loss of the value of a place, it can still be registered as a landmark. The decision will be up to the experts.

Landmarks and their future

Experts from the Department of Cultural Heritage are monitoring the condition of historical landmarks and are carefully monitoring all repair and restoration work. Experts also respond to reported violations made by the owners of buildings. One can report such a thing by calling the department hotline at +7 916 146 5327.

In 2020, 76 inspections were made, including 60 unscheduled ones in order to enforce the rectification of violations. Overall, 385 relevant administrative cases were opened in 2020.


If you continue to use our website, you are agreeing to accept the use of cookies on your device. Cookie files ensure the website’s efficiency and help us provide you with the most interesting and relevant information. Read more about cookie files.
Accept ccokies