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From Gorky to Disney: Moscow's famous park is set for a radical makeover next year

Gorky Park, Pool, Sculptures, Woods, Ferris WheelThe wind of change is set to blow over Moscow's Gorky Park turning it into a new Russian Disneyland.

Forget dilapidated fairground rides ­ the owners' new vision for the riverside park includes state-of-the-art attractions for thrill seekers alongside high-quality restaurants, a concert hall and even an art village. A modernisation could be approved within months, paving the way for work to start on an estimated $1 billion refit next year.

Something for everyone

The new Gorky Park will offer a wide range of entertainment for visitors of all ages ­ and incomes.

"This new park should become the most democratic in Europe in terms of prices and age groups it has been designed for," the head of the Expert Council for investment activities affiliated to the Moscow Government Mikhail Khubutiya told gzt.ru.

The plans will divide the park into separate zones ­ a theme park, and an arts complex featuring among them.

"The first zone should have fun fairs and sport playgrounds, the second should host entertainment spots and restaurants, and the third should be a walking area with Neskuchny Sad," the park's director Vyacheslav Korol told Komsomolskaya Pravda.


It's a far cry from the park's current creaking condition.

"The infrastructure of the whole complex has been worn out by more than 80 per cent," Korol added. "Some facilities were built in the beginning of the 20th century."

The park's pricing policy has also contributed to public discontent with what was once the Soviet Union's top day out.

The modest entrance fee of 80 roubles (about $2.50) is dwarfed by the money paid for food and tickets to attractions.

Visitors complain that a decent lunch can cost 1000 roubles ($33), while earlier this year a group launched legal action against the admission fee saying it was effectively a charge to breathe the air.

Russian Speakers' Corner

The newly renovated Gorky Park should brighten up Moscow's political life too providing space for opposition politicians to have their say.

No less a figure than prime minster Vladimir Putin alluded approvingly to London's Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park during an interview with Kommersant this summer ­ and his words were noted by the park's planners.

"This zone should be something like Hyde Park in London. It should be a place for meetings and public discussions where everyone can speak out," said Korol.

History and culture

Founded in 1928, Gorky Park was planned by Konstantin Melnikov, a world-famous soviet avant-garde and constructivist architect.

The park's 100-hectare territory was formerly used as garden grounds of the Neskuchny Palace and the Golitsyn Old Hospital.

The reconstruction plan should not demolish any of park's historical buildings and facilities.

"Our main goal is to try to fit modern infrastructure in the historical heritage without making the park a modern remake," said Korol.

It has also played a role in popular culture as the setting for Martin Cruz Smith's spy thriller (later made into a film named after the park) and getting a namecheck in the Scorpions' 1980s anthem Wind of Change.


Russia, Economy, Life in Russia, Johnson's Russia List, Russia News, Russia, Gorky Park

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