Zhuzha, Krasnaya Sosna and Kirpichnye Viyemki: A tour of Moscow streets with quirky names

May 6

Those of you who are longing to take a walk around Moscow can enjoy a virtual tour of city streets with quirky names on mos.ru. Denis Romodin, senior fellow at the Museum of Moscow’s Department of Educational Programmes, has a few fascinating stories about these names.

Most streets with weird names are located in central Moscow. They got their names before the 17th century and were mostly associated with geographical landmarks, such as rivers or the settlements of local craftsmen: Goncharnaya (potters), Serebryanicheskaya (silversmiths), Kadashyovskaya (Kadashyovo village), Khamovnaya (weavers), or Povarskaya (cooks). Many streets were named after local land or house owners, such as Zubovskaya Square named after Colonel Zubov, or Milyutinsky Pereulok named after house owner Milyutin. Other names are associated with religious or official landmarks.

Denis Romodin, Department of Educational Programmes, Museum of Moscow

Zhuzha, Lenivka and other waterway street names

It was a custom in Moscow to name locations after rivers and streams. The names of water bodies, or hydronyms, evolved and changed over centuries so that it is almost impossible now to trace the names to their origin.

For example, Zhuzha Street near Kolomenskoye Museum Estate was named after a stream of the same name. Why the stream was named Zhuzha to begin with is a mystery; it could be traced back to “luzha” (puddle) or “zhizha” (glop).

Zhuzha Street

Lenivka and the neighbouring Volkhonka streets in the Khamovniki District were named after Moscow River tributaries. Prud-Klyuchiki Street, meaning pond-spring, was also named after a stream in Lefortovo located in the upper reaches of the Nishchenka River and famous for its crystal clear water.

Sivtsev Vrazhek Pereulok in central Moscow is also a hydronym, even though “vrazhek” stems directly from “ovrag”, or ravine, with which the lane is associated as well. Its name dates back to the 17th century, when a small river named Sivets or Sivka, known since the 14th century, ran through a ravine or “vrazhek.” At the turn of the 19th century, the river was forced underground into a tunnel, although the relief of the terrain still indicates where it ran. Before the 20th century, the lane was renamed from Troitsky to Protasyevsky to Podyachesky.

Gypsy songs and a checkpoint for smuggled goods

Shchipok and Zatsepa streets share the story of their origins, even though it has no documentary proof. It is believed that a rampart or “tsep/zatsepa” located there was used as a natural checkpoint for the carts entering the city. A long pole was prodded into hay on the carts to check whether there was any prohibited wine under it. People soon started calling the place Zatsepa to denote that it was located beyond the chain (tsep) of checkpoints. The name Shchipok can be traced to the shchup or pole used to check the hay carts.

Initially, Eldoradovsky Pereulok near the Aeroport metro station was named Monastyrskaya Zemlya (monastery land) because the area belonged to the St Peter (Vysokopetrovsky) Monastery. Later the area was renamed Tsygansky Ugolok or Gypsy Corner because gypsies lived there in the early 20th century. They performed at the Eldorado restaurant located at modern-day 1st Krasnoarmeiskaya Street which is why the lane was renamed Eldoradovsky Pereulok.

Eldoradovsky Pereulok. Photo: Maxim Denisov for mos.ru.

1st and 2nd Babyegorodsky Pereulok (lanes) in Yakimanka District have no connection to “baba”, a vulgar synonym for “woman.” “Baba” in this case is a ram used to drive pales into the river bank, which is why the area was known as Baby Gorodok. The name later stuck to the local dam and subsequently to the nearby lanes.

Brick making, watchman’s house and 20th century development

Proyezd Solomennoi Storozhki in the Timiryazevsky District got its name in the 19th century. It was named after a watchman’s house insulated with compressed straw (solomennaya storozhka), which stood in the territory of the Petrovsky Land and Forest Academy. Country houses or dachas were built there in the second half of the 19th century and the name stuck.

Kirpichnye Viyemki Street in Chertanovo Yuzhnoye (Southern) was named after an old brick factory built by Alexander Verkhovsky in the early 1900s. Clay for the bricks was extracted (hence viyemki) in a nearby pit.


Like many other toponyms such as Lyalin or Sverchkov lanes, Vypolzov Pereulok in the Meshchansky District was named after a local landowner. A 17th century map shows that there was a village of Vypolzovo on the Tver motorway between the Khimka and Likhoborka rivers.

Krasnaya Sosna Street in the Yaroslavsky District can be traced back to a dacha settlement built there in 1911. The developers named it Krasnaya Sosna to attract buyers. In the Soviet period, there were several numbered Krasnaya Sosna streets, but only one of them has survived.

Krasnaya Sosna Street. Photo: Maxim Denisov for mos.ru.

Cesspool cleaners’ settlement and the last lane

Zolotaya Street in the Sokolinaya Gora area has nothing to do with gold. It was named so in the 19th century because it was an area of zolotari – cesspool cleaners. The cesspools which they cleaned at night were jokingly called “night gold” because they were removed at night so that the smell would not bother the residents.

Zolotaya Street. Photo: Maxim Denisov for mos.ru.

Posledny Pereulok in the Meshchansky District got its name because it was the last lane (pereulok) on the odd side of Sretenka Street as shown on the18th century maps. It was renamed Myasnoi when butchers’ shops opened there and renamed back to Posledny in 1922, when the butchers’ were closed down.

Source: mos.ru

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