Natural sites are unique irreplaceable complexes valuable from the ecological, scientific, cultural and aesthetical points of view that include objects both of natural and man-made origin.
On the territory of modern Moscow, near the historical villages of Kolomenskoye and Dyakovo, one can see unique relief forms, geological outcrops, large stones (boulders), long-living trees and valuable plant communities.
In order to preserve the most valuable natural spots on the territory of the museum-reserve 10 Specially Protected Natural Areas (SPNA) were selected as natural sites. The natural objects thus registered are to be used in compliance with special regulations and enjoy particular maintaining conditions as well as legal support:
- Golosov Ravine
It is a unique natural relief with spurs coming throughout the ravine’s length. A 73o slope angle in some point of upper and middle parts of the ravine as well as a spring running across its bottom for over 600 metres create an inimitable microclimate. The territory resembles untouched wild nature and is characterized by a great variety of ecological conditions and, consequently, tree communities and grasslands. The ravine slopes are covered with trees of valuable species (the ash-tree grove near the church in Dyakovo, oak-trees, elms, lindens, etc.), bushes (spindle, or Euonymus verrucosus; arrowwood, or Viburnum opulus; red elderberry, or Sambucus racemosa etc.) and herbs, including those that are rare for Moscow (Origanum, Betonica, Campanula or bellflower, etc.).
In the downstream the ravine bottom is broad and flat, near the outfall there are two ponds and a hydrotechnical system.
In the middle part of the ravine one can find three independent natural sites: the Little Tub spring group, the Maiden Stone, and the Goose Stone.
- Maiden Stone in the Golosov Ravine
This is a monolithic quartz sandstone with Lower Cretaceous quartz cement that contains 60 rounded and oblong oolites, each from 5 to 80 cm long. The stone is deepened in the ground with an open surface of about 2.5 sq.m. The Maiden Stone is of interest not only as a unique natural object but also as a historical monument – a pagan ritual symbol with several legends related.
- Goose Stone in the Golosov Ravine
The boulder is a monolithic quartz sandstone deepened in the ground with an open surface of about 1.5 sq. m. The object is also mentioned in legends.
- The Little Tub spring group in the Golosov Ravine
This is an outlet of underground waters from Lower Cretaceous line sands in the ravine borders. There are five springs known at present.
- Spring in the Moskva River valley near the Church of the Ascension
This is a group of springs with outlet of underground waters from Lower Cretaceous aquifer. It is located by the foot of a 26-metre high and 20-36 o steep slope.
- Spring in the lower part of the Dyakovo ravine
This unique natural object has great significance in environmental and natural protection as well as aesthetics. It has an outlet of water in the right border of the ravine near a Black Jurassic clay outcrop. The territory is almost not influenced by the anthropogenic factor. There are not numerous flowers of Dianthus fischeri and Campanula rotundifolia included into the Red Data Book of Moscow.
Attention! The water in the springs is non-potable, do not drink!
- Black Jurassic clay outcrop on the ‘Devil’s town’ landfall stair
This is the lower part of an old landfall body made up by Upper Volgian Jurassic clays that are considered to make up a water-resisting line in the Moscow region preventing from penetration of contaminating elements into the lower coal water-bearing system used as a drinking water resource. Multi-coloured sands have been discovered above the Jurassic clay layer.
- The Moskva River floodplain near the Church of Beheading of St. John the Forerunner
On this territory, the natural soil mantle and vegetation with quite a rich flora have been preserved. On the meadows, even swampy ones, one can find many species of herbs rare to Moscow and its region such as Acorus calamus (or Sweet Flag), Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag, yellow iris), Dactylorhiza maculata (or Heath Spotted Orchid), Dianthus fischeri, Campanula (or bellflower) and others.
- Landfall stairs near the Church of Beheading of St. John the Forerunner
The ledged slope of the river valley border is part of an ancient landfall zone. It has been just slightly influenced by the anthropogenic factor so that some rare types of plants such as Fragaria viridis, Eryngium planum (or Flat Sea Holly), Antennaria dioica (of Mountain Everlasting) and others have been preserved.
- Boulders and outcrops of Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) sands on the slope of the Dyakovo Hillfort
Some boulders of the Ice Age period were found on this territory. On the top of the hill there is an ancient tumulus, an archeological monument that was built about 2,400 years ago.
Apart from the Specially Protected Natural Areas, there are five natural sites in Kolomenskoye to be qualified as natural sites:
- Dyakovo Ravine
This ravine is rarely visited because two thirds of its bottom length is flooded and the slope angle is about 75-80o. Relic and rare plant species such as Thymus marschalliaus, Festuca valesiaca (fescue) and others can be found there.
- Outcrop of a layer between Moscow moraine and chalk deposits
This layer came out as a result of slope erosion where light-yellow sands with isinglass stones can be found under the reddish-brown loams of Moscow moraine. It is a very rare outcrop on the territory of Moscow.
- Kolomenskoye oak-trees
Old-aged English oak trees (circa 400-600 years old) form an alley (two incomplete rows) at the Tsar’s Courtyard near the Sitny Yard and on the edge of the Ascension Garden. Over the centuries, grand princes and Moscow rulers who owned Kolomenskoye carefully protected the great oaks. Empress Catherine the Great chose the Oak-tree grove as a place for games and studies for her favourite grandsons – Grand Princes Alexander and Konstantin Pavlovich. Later on, Emperor Alexander I loved to walk in the grove.
According to a legend, Emperor-to-be Peter I loved to spend his leisure time in this grove. He started studying reading and writing under these ancient oaks. We know that Peter I had a reverential attitude towards any kind of trees and oaks, in particular. During his reign several laws limiting tree felling were introduced which shows his care for the forest protection.
Nowadays, the museum-reserve continues the traditions of valuable tree plantings protection established by Peter I.
In 2013, the museum administration made a decision to additionally fence the territory around the oaks as scientific examination showed a negative recreational impact in this area.
- Ash-tree grove
The ash-tree grove is located in the yard of the Dyakovo church and the adjoining part of the Golosov Ravine. This is a deciduous forest area with 40-80 years-old common ash-trees and one ash-tree that reached the age of 200 years.
- Three willows
Three 200-year-old white willows grow near the historical Dyakovo Road on the slope leading to the Moskva River.
Gardens of Kolomenskoye
According to a detailed garden list of the early XVIII century, the Kolomenskoye summer residence included six gardens: Ascension, Dyakovo, two Kazanski, New and Big one, where apple, pear and plum trees, currant and gooseberry bushes and raspberry canes were planted. Fruits and berries were gathered for the Tsar’s table, servants as well as for selling.
In the XVIII century, during the construction of the Palace of Catherine the Great, the Kazansky garden was planned for promenades: a central ‘perspective’ road was laid out and surrounded by pear trees, the territory was divided into square sections with the help of gravel paths and flowerbeds where various types of flowers, young apple and cherry trees were planted. In 1997-1999, the historical planning of Kazansky Garden was reconstructed according to the blueprints made in 1767.
New and Dyakovo Gardens were of commercial importance thanks to their sizes impressive for the XVII century. The harvest was sent for selling and partially taken to the Petersburg court for the production of various drinks for the royal family and closest friends. Serf gardeners who lived in the Garden Sloboda (territory of the village of Sadovniki, i.e. ‘gardeners’, now part of Moscow) took care of the royal gardens.
One can see an interesting architectural landmark that has survived till our days – a fragment of the Garden Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard that used to lead to the Big Garden.
Only three out of six gardens (Kazansky, Dyakovo and Ascension) have come up to our days with two of them located on the same territory as back in the XVII century. Nowadays there is a Bee-keeper’s Farmhouse with genuine hives near the Ascension Garden and a reconstructed Apothecary Garden presenting an internal element of the XVIII century gardening.
Nowadays gardens are healthy, blossoming and fructifying. Together with the architectural ensemble they create an inimitable image of an ancient Russian estate.
Attention! Apples and pears from the Kolomenskoye gardens as well as fruits of other trees and bushes on the territory of Moscow are forbidden to consume due to their contamination with heavy metals.
During the autumn season in 2015 and 2016 Kolomenskoye historical gardens that had lost significant amount of fruit trees during the years of exploitation were reconstructed: 436 planting stocks of apple trees and 8 stocks of pear trees were planted replacing the dead ones.