The Garden Ring

The Garden Ring, officially named as “Ring B”, is the third Moscow ring. The rings are a network of roads and boulevards that radiate out from Moscow. Looking at this busy road today you’d be confused as to why it’s called the Garden Ring.

At first it was a wooden town, a fortification system of over 15 kilometres in length and five meters in height, built in 1591-1592 in order to protect people from depredations made by Crimean and Nogai Hordes. A rampart built in an amazingly short period of time was called “Skorodom” (a quickly built structure) by the Muscovites although its official name is the “Wooden”.
An “ostrog” and wooden towers were built at the Earth rampart in 1659. “Ostrog” was the name of a wooden wall made of thick sharpened logs. But the rampart remained the main fortification structure. That way the entire fortification ring received the name “Earth rampart” (or “Earth town”) that is a fortress starting from the second quarter of the 17th century.

The Earth rampart’s history ended in the fire of 1812. The decision was made to demolish the rampart and to fill the ditch with earth and to lay down a street around Moscow at its place. Interestingly, the plan of the street was proposed to Moscow from St. Petersburg. After the rampart had been removed and the ditch had been filled, the total width of 60 meters was left unoccupied. But Moscow’s authorities considered it to be too vast a distance for a street’s width given the state of the transport system that existed in Moscow at that time. Thus, only 20-25 meters were allotted to the pavement and the sidewalks. The remaining part of the street was given to local residents provided that a garden with trees and flowers would be planted across each house’s yard. That is why this circular road’s name “the Garden Ring” is absolutely deserved.
The rails for horse-tram (trams driven by horses) were laid along the Garden ring in the 1870s. The horse-tram was replaced by an electric one in 1912. The tram’s route was named “B” and the Muscovites called it a ‘bug’.

The Garden Ring was completely encircled and asphalted in the 1930s. All the gardens were removed in 1937 in order to widen the roadway. At the same time the trams were changed to trolley-buses. The traffic around the Garden ring was finally organized in 1963. Starting from the 1960s the streets gradually grew to avenues with tunnels, interchanges, overhead roads and underground passages.

From then on a continuous current of cars flows through the streets of the Garden Ring day and night. And it seems like nothing reminds us of old times except for only the name – the “Garden Ring”. But sometimes, in the middle of the unstoppable noise of car-wheels, one can hear the rustling of the unique Moscow gardens’ foliage. Tour to Moscow