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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Moscow to pull down eyesore hotel
Rossiya Hotel and neighbouring church (still from Russian television)
The hotel jars with Moscow's historic city centre
The mayor of Moscow has ordered the demolition of the Rossiya (Russia) Hotel, a giant concrete box built beside the Kremlin in Soviet times.

The hotel, the world's biggest when it was built in the late 1960s, has been reviled for decades both for its ugliness and its resident cockroaches.

A hotel and shopping complex is expected to appear on the prime site.

It is the latest step in an ambitious plan to rid the Russian capital of the worst of its Soviet architecture.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports from the city that the Rossiya is easily one of Moscow's most controversial symbols.

In Soviet times, they used to love building big, he adds, and thus Russia built the world's tallest TV tower, the world's biggest bust of Lenin, and, in Moscow, Europe's biggest hotel - which also sadly turned out to be one of Europe's ugliest.

Vladimir Resin, Mayor Yury Luzhkov's deputy for construction, described the Rossiya on Tuesday as "a dull, faceless box made of steel and concrete".


News of the Rossiya's impending destruction comes after the demolition of two other well-known hotels nearby: the Stalin-era Moskva (Moscow) and the Inturist (Foreign Tourist), a skyscraper erected in 1970.

Rossiya Hotel (still from Russian television)
Gutted Moscow's medieval Zaryadye district when it was built
Suffered fire in 1977 in which 43 people died
Notorious for cockroaches and bed-bugs

But the Rossiya is the most notorious of them all, with a reputation for bad hygiene and bad looks which many foreign tourists would have experienced, given its position off Red Square and overlooking the River Moscow.

In recent years, the hotel has also been a home-from-home for MPs decamping to parliament in Moscow from across Russia's vast interior.

With its 3,000 rooms, it hogs an area the size of 20 football pitches.

Some film-goers may retain fond memories of the hotel's cinema, the Zaryadye, but there is little to recommend the featureless box apart from its "ideal location".

A string of elegant churches and historic buildings perched surreally along Varvara Street, alongside the hotel, only emphasise the Rossiya's incongruity in Moscow's medieval heart.

Mr Resin said the development, expected to go out to tender this year, would fit in "with the heart of Moscow".

Russian news agencies report that it will probably feature a number of modern hotels catering for 2,000 guests, as well as offices and shops.

Restoring a Red Square icon
31 Jul 03  |  Europe

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