There’s not much to remind us of this nowadays. There are fragments of the old roadways remaining in some villages, but it’s not easy to find them. The enormous city of Balashikha near Moscow is primarily known to the capital’s residents for its traffic jams. Leo Tolstoy’s heroine, Anna Karenina, took her own life at the train station at Zheleznodorozhny (formerly Obiralovka). Along the way, you will catch a glimpse of 18th-19th century churches and estates as well as old huts with their intricate wood-carved door and window frames, quite typical for the area around Moscow.
The eastern suburbs of Moscow Oblast (Moscow region) are some of the most densely populated places in Russia. However, this used to be an area of dense forests, in which Old Believers hid after the church schism in the 17th century. Their self-sufficient economy, mutual assistance, and sobriety contributed to the development of trade and crafts in their villages. Beginning with the birth of railroads during the 19th century, wealthy peasants began to build textile factories. Many manufacturers «from the people», having become rich, went down in history as patrons and popularizers of Russian art.
Most of the factories stopped working after the USSR collapsed, but their red-brick workshops and workers’ barracks, water towers, and pipes are still there. Like the avant-garde Soviet monuments of the 1920s, they are reminiscent of the local workers’ participation in the revolution. The best architectural ensembles of old factory Russia have been preserved in Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Noginsk (also home to the world’s oldest Lenin monument), Drezna, Lakinsk, Sobinka, and other cities.