From estate to public park: The history of Ostankino from the Main Archive Directorate

September 1
Social sector

The village of Ostashkino (later Ostankino) was first mentioned in the 16th century. Scribe Vasily Shchelkalov became its owner in 1584. Princes Cherkassky took the village over in the 17th century and owned it until 1743, when Count Sheremetev married Prince Cherkassky’s daughter and only heir. Geographer Khariton Chebotarev wrote about the estate: “Ostankovo is located some 3 km from the city and is owned by Count Pyotr Sheremetev; it has a wonderful pleasure house and a park with ponds.”

Sredny Pond in Ostankino Park, 1934-1951. Main Archive Directorate

The park was designed by architects Alexei Mironov and Pavel Argunov and laid out in 1793 by landscape designer Christoph Meiners in the then popular style of the English garden. Writer and local history expert Ivan Kondratyev wrote that “the Ostankino garden and park located north of the mansion had been laid out by its former owner, Prince Cherkassky, long before the mansion itself was built.”

A special garden was planted in the estate in the late 18th century. Separated from the rest of the park by a dense wall of trimmed vegetation, the garden was only open to the Ostankino owner.

Ostankino Palace and Museum. Photo by Mikhail Trakhman, 1950. Main Archive Directorate

A Complete Guide to Moscow’s Dacha Suburbs (1894) said: “There are linden alleys, Siberian cedars and lots of flowers in the wonderful park of Count Sheremetev. There is a large pond for swimming. Next to the palace stands a beautiful stone church built in a very interesting design.”

Dancing parties and amateur performances were held at the estate several times in summertime, and there was a koumiss (fermented mare’s milk) spa nearby.

Dzerzhinsky Recreation Park at Ostankino. Photo by Lev Raskin, 1950. Main Archive Directorate

Dzerzhinsky Recreation Park opened at Ostankino 15 years after the revolution, in 1932. Soviet experts noted the unique combination of plants in the park: “Ostankino has a unique landscape thanks to a fortunate combination of forests with planted vegetation, meadows and numerous water bodies. The motley vegetation is dominated by oaks and pines. The other tree varieties include birch, poplar, lime and fir trees. Alders grow near water bodies and in other wet areas.”

In the reading hall of Ostankino Recreation Park. Photo by Mikhail Ozersky, June 1955. Main Archive Directorate

The park was incorporated into the VDNKh exhibition space in 1976 and renamed Ostankino Park in 1991.

A large renovation project was completed in the Ostankino culture and sports recreation zone in 2015. Recreated hardscape elements based on historical documents have been ingeniously combined with modern sports facilities such as a cycling track, a roller rink and a skate park.

Sunday in Ostankino Park. Photo by David Sholomovich, May 1953. Main Archive Directorate

The Moscow Main Archive Directorate has a large number of official documents, papers of various Moscow organisations, establishments and enterprises, materials from personal collections, the oldest of which date back to the late 17th century, as well as photo, audio and video material. They are used for various exhibitions and educational projects and are available to everyone in the department’s reading halls.


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