House overlooking the Milky Way: the People's Observatory was restored in Gorky Park

December 2, 2021

The building of the People's Observatory in Gorky Park got rid of scaffolding. Now it has been completely restored and is ready to resume work next spring.

The astronomical pavilion is located near the arch of the main entrance. It is a rotunda with two symmetrical staircases and a dome on the roof, equipped with a rotary mechanism and sliding doors. The facades are painted in red and white. So, the pilaster-strips (vertical projections on the wall like columns without bases and capitals) and under the dome belt are white, and the piers between the pilaster-strips are made of red brick.

The Gorky Park People's Observatory is an identified site of cultural heritage. No comprehensive restoration of this building has been carried out before, the supporting structures have fallen into disrepair over the past decades. The works project was approved by the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow in summer of 2020. The works lasted 180 days. All this time, the observatory was closed to visitors.

"The observatory in Gorky Park is a very interesting building. Its appearance has hardly changed in decades. An elegant rotunda with two semicircular staircases still meets guests at the end of the alley, not far from the main entrance. Now specialists have completely got it in order under the control of our department. Now Muscovites can once again admire this structure in its original form," Alexey Yemelyanov, Head of the capital's Department of Cultural Heritage, said.

During the restoration, specialists restored the semicircular staircases, got in order the steps of Sayan marble, as well as railings and fences. In addition, the damage in the brickwork was eliminated. The facades of the building were cleaned with steam and painted anew in red and white. The dome was treated with compositions that protect against rust. Ceramic granite tiles were replaced on the area under the stairs leading to the observatory.

In addition, the semicircular area for visitors on the second floor of the observatory was got in order. In the interiors, flooring, metal railings of internal stairs, window frames (including the window of the cash register) were partially restored and partially replaced. Brass door handles and hinges were recreated in the style specific to the fittings of the 1950s. The metal structures of the floors and plaster protective layers were also reinforced.

"One of the most difficult stages of the restoration was the foundation strengthening by injection: specialists drilled 480 holes in the base of the observatory, through which more than two tons of a special mixture with a hardener was injected under pressure. This helped to preserve the historical foundation of the building. The dome was cleaned from corrosion as carefully as possible: for four days restorers cleaned it manually using a special material for fine grinding, without using any tools," Pavel Trekhleb, Director of Gorky Park, told.

He noted that the building now looks exactly as Muscovites saw it in the middle of the last century. It was built in the 1950s during the post-war reconstruction of the park. Observatories began to be called people's because access to them was open to everyone. The project was typical, similar structures appeared in several parks of culture and recreation in Moscow and other cities of the USSR. The name of the architect who created the observatory is unknown. There is an assumption that it could be Vitaly Ivanovich Dolganov: at that time, a team of specialists under his leadership was developing a master plan for the park territory development.


For more than 20 years, the observatory was closed to visitors, but in September 2012 it opened its doors again. Two powerful telescopes and an automatic double sliding dome were installed there. In the pavilion, day and evening astronomical excursions were held, and they talked about the telescopes design. The observatory was closed for autumn and winter, and on Cosmonautics Day, April 12, it began to receive guests again.


The Central Park of Culture and Recreation was founded in 1928. The main architect who designed the territory from the main entrance to the Neskuchny Garden was the avant-gardist Konstantin Melnikov.

In 1932, architects Alexander Vlasov and Alexey Shchusev began designing the park site. In 2013, the Gorky Park received part of the Vorobyovy Gory Nature Reserve territory and part of the Lomonosov Moscow State University territory. And in 2015, it also included the Muzeon Art Park— the largest open-air sculpture museum in Russia.

Large-scale reconstruction of historical sites in Gorky Park has been going on for several years.


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