Nikolskaya Street in Moscow: unique place for bar hopping

Maria Selezneva | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Being the important street in old Moscow center, Nikolskaya Street was a part of the road to Vladimir, one of the greatest historical Russian cities. Its first mention dates back to the 16th century, although the street itself is much older. After the FIFA World Cup held in Moscow in 2018, Nikolskaya Street is considered to be a unique place for bar hopping, ever since football fans started gathering here in the time of the championship.

Look back at it

© istock/Veronika Viskova

Nikolskaya Street can be easily found when you’re in the very center of Moscow. It starts right at Red Square which is the heart of Russian capital, hosting the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral. In the 17th century, it became a prominent street where many local noblemen had their houses. In the beginning of the 19th century, a book-seller called Ilya Ivanovich Glazunov opened his book store together with the library – the biggest in Moscow. Probably because of this, Nikolskaya Street became an epicenter for Moscow book trading. It’s proved by the fact that 26 out of 31 book stores in the whole Moscow were located on Nikolskaya Street.

Time passed, and in the 2nd half of the 19th century, Nikolskaya Street had become famous for being a significant part of business Moscow. Not only it hosted offices of different enterprises but also a famous hotel and restaurant ‘Slavyansky Bazar’ described in different books by Russian writers of the era. It's also a place where Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko decided to establish Moscow Art Theatre. Closer to Lubyanskaya Square, almost at the beginning of the 20th century, Ferrein Pharmacy building was erected. After taking a look at it, even now, one can say it somehow reminds of modernism buildings in Saint Petersburg.

What we have now

© istock/koromelena

Nowadays, Nikolskaya Street has its everyday life connected with bars, shops, taking photos, and just having fun. In 2013, it was pedestrianized; benches appeared there, which has made the place feel like a good old neighborhood for chilling and enjoying your time in the city. Its perfect location right between Red Square and the Lubyanskaya Square, where famous ‘Detsky Mir’ shopping center is standing, makes Nikolskaya Street unmissable if you want to feel the pulse of Moscow’s heart.

During the FIFA World Cup 2018, Nikolskaya Street became a so-called ‘unofficial fan-zone’ after the very first game, when the Russian team won. It happened totally spontaneously. Football fans from all over the world started visiting Nikolskaya Street, celebrating the victory of the teams they supported, dancing, singing, taking photos with locals, and having their time in Moscow.   

Today, when the FIFA World Cup is no longer here, Nikolskaya Street is not a fan zone anymore, which nevertheless doesn’t devalue the place. You can always go there to take beautiful photos. The street is not that long, only 1kilometer, but every building there breathes with history. Above all, it’s a unique place for bar hopping, especially if you want to reminisce about the summer days of 2018 and follow the tradition.

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