Sparrow Hills, Moscow

History of Sparrow Hills

  • Sparrow Hills takes its name from the 14th century village of Vorobyovo. Royal and noble estates were founded on the territory, as well as churches and a monastery. Sparrow Hills became a hugely popular spot for weekend and holiday relaxation, and many Muscovites built their holiday homes there
  • In the Soviet period, Sparrow Hills underwent serious development. The main campus of Moscow State University was erected there, as well as a new metro station. A winter sports complex and nature reserve were constructed on the steep riverbank

Sparrow Hills, Moscow

Sparrow Hills is an area in southwestern Moscow positioned on the steep bank of the Moskva River, densely covered in forest and marked by deep ravines and natural springs. One of the Seven Hills of Moscow, Sparrow Hills is the highest point in the city at 220 metres above sea level. It is a favourite spot of local people and tourists alike, offering ample opportunity for sports and other outdoor activities in all seasons, and home to a famous observation deck with a panoramic view over Moscow’s cityscape and a serene nature reserve with walking paths and relaxing spots.

Sparrow Hills

Phot by igor_f on Wikipedia

History of Sparrow Hills

Sparrow Hills In Medieval and Imperial Russia

Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory in Russian) takes its name from the 14th century village Vorobyovo, which was named after the ancient boyar clan of Veliky Novgorod, the Vorobyovs. The village was purchased by the Grand Duke of Moscow in the mid-1450s and transformed into a grand estate for the royal family, complete with the Vorobyov Palace used as a summer entertainment residence for many centuries (which was unfortunately destroyed by Napoleon’s army in 1812). A number of noble estates also appeared in this area, and in 1648 the Andreevsky Monastery was founded at the foot of Sparrow Hills.

Sparrow Hills retro picture

Photo by Nikolay Naydenov on Wikipedia 

Did you know? Due to its geographical position, Sparrow Hills was the site from which invading armies caught their first glimpse of Moscow!

From the late 19th century onwards, Sparrow Hills became a popular spot for weekend relaxation in all seasons. Folk festivals and fairs were organised there, and many Muscovites built their dachas in the nearby area. Tsar Alexander I ordered the construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Sparrow Hills as a monument to Russian victory over Napoleon. However, due to the unsuitable soil, construction was soon halted and the cathedral was instead built on its present day site in the centre of Moscow.

Did you know? All that remained on the Sparrow Hills construction site of the cathedral was a collection of huts which were subsequently used as a transit prison for convicts on their way to Siberian exile.

Sparrow Hills During Soviet Russia

Sparrow Hills during the Soviet period

Photo by Texmon  on Wikipedia

Sparrow Hills underwent significant redevelopment in the Soviet period. From 1935 to 1999, Sparrow Hills was renamed Lenin Hills, and a park and observation deck were constructed there. From 1949 to 1953, the main campus of Moscow State University was erected on the plateau above Sparrow Hills (built partly by Gulag labour), and was crowned with the tallest of Stalin’s Seven Sisters skyscrapers. The Luzhnetsky metro bridge and Vorobyovy Gory metro station were also built to link the university and Sparrow Hills with Moscow city centre. The medieval settlement of Vorobyovo finally disappeared with the completion of the university campus.

Did you know? A winter sports complex was established on Sparrow Hills in the 1920s, inspiring the first generation of serious competitive skiers in the USSR. In 1953, a professional ski-jump and ski-lift were installed on the hills. Skiers training at Sparrow Hills were so talented, that they won nearly half of the medals available in national championships until the end of the 1960s!

What to do at Sparrow Hills

  • Observation points: Moscow’s most famous observation deck attracts tourists and local people alike and offers an unparalleled panorama over Moscow’s cityscape. There is also a cable car travelling from Sparrow Hills across the river to the Luzhniki Stadium 
  • Sparrow Hills Nature Reserve: A huge park spanning the length of Sparrow Hills, home to ecological trails, ponds, natural springs, rare plants and animals, picnic spots, and a mini zoo 
  • Sports and outdoor activities: Sparrow Hills is a popular site for outdoor activities in all seasons, including cycling, skating, and winter sports. There are several bike rental facilities 
  • Historical religious sites: The Church of the Trinity is the only surviving building from the village of Vorobyovo. The Andreevsky Monastery is a peaceful spot with interesting architecture

What can you do at Sparrow Hills today?

Observation deck

Sparrow Hills observation desk

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

One of the best spots for photography and most popular sites among Muscovites and tourists alike, the Sparrow Hills observation deck offers an unparalleled panorama over Moscow’s cityscape. It is well worth using the binoculars installed there to see some of Moscow’s landmark buildings – the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Novodevichy Convent, Kremlin, Shukhov radio tower, Luzhniki Stadium, and skyscrapers of Moscow City. Concerts and other events are held here in summertime. Located at Ulitsa Kosygina, 28.

Did you know? In pre-revolutionary times a legendary restaurant, Krynkin’s, sat pride of place on the observation deck, entertaining Moscow’s rich and famous.

Sparrow Hills Nature Reserve

Sparrow Hills Nature Reserve

Photo by Selma Rizvić on Unsplash

This huge forest park spanning the length of Sparrow Hills is a verdant oasis in busy Moscow, and the only specially protected nature area near the city centre. It is home to ecological trails, ponds, natural springs, rare species of plants and animals, many spots for picnicking, cafes, and a mini zoo. At the bottom of the park lie the Vorobyovskaya and Andreevskaya Embankments, with promenades stretching along the Moskva River with a beach and piers offering boat trips. To reach the observation deck from Vorobyovy Gory metro station, it’s necessary to take a walk through the Sparrow Hill Nature Reserve.

Sports and outdoor activities

Sparrow Hills winter sports

Photo by Victor Rodvang on Unsplash

Sparrow Hills is hugely popular for sports and other outdoor activities in all seasons. Visitors can rent sports equipment to explore the park and embankments, and there is a 5km riverside cycle path between Gorky Park and Sparrow Hills Nature Reserve via the Neskuchny Gardens. A new winter sports complex complete with snowboarding, ice skating, and various ski tracks and jumps is currently under construction, and will cater to professionals and amateur enthusiasts alike.

Cable car

Sparrow Hills Cable car

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

A 720-metre cable car connects Sparrow Hills and the Luzhniki Stadium on the opposite side of the Moskva River, offering passengers an incredible view. One-way tickets range from $1.40 – $5.60 and return tickets from $2.10 - $8.40 depending on the day. The Vorobyovy Gory station lies at the top of Sparrow Hills next to the observation deck, and the Novaya Liga station is on the Vorobyovskaya Embankment by the Vorobyovy Gory pier. Tickets may be purchased here.

Church of the Trinity

Sparrow Hills Church of the Trinity

Photo by C.caramba2010 on Wikipedia  

The only surviving building from the village of Vorobyovo, this church was not destroyed by Napoleon’s invasion, and, unusually, was not closed during the Soviet period. The small church was built in the style of late Classicism and has a single green dome and a two-tiered bell tower. Located at Ulitsa Kosygina, 30.

Andreevsky Monastery

Andreevsky Monastery

Photo by A.Savin on Wikipedia

One of the oldest monasteries in Moscow and the first academic institution in the city, established in 1648 as an ‘educational’ brotherhood and religious school. The Andreevsky Monastery is a peaceful place to visit with Baroque architecture and lovely gardens. It is located on the Moskva riverbank at Andreevskaya Embankment, 2.

Moscow State University


Photo by Pavel K on Wikipedia

Russia’s oldest university and the educational and scientific centre of the country. Its main campus is perched atop Sparrow Hills. Visitors can get a glimpse of life at Russia’s top university, admire its commanding main building, visit the university’s Museum of Geology, Botanical Gardens, and viewing platform from the 32nd storey of the main building. Located at Ulitsa Leninskiye Gory, 1.

What’s nearby?

  • Luzhniki Stadium – the national stadium of Russia and the country’s largest football stadium, which hosted the 1980 Olympic Games and 2018 World Cup. Visitors can take tours of the stadium or – even better – enjoy a football match there! A 720-metre cable car travels from Vorobyovy Gory to the Luzhniki Stadium, offering unparalleled views over Moscow.
  • Novodevichy Convent – one of ancient Moscow’s most sacred sites. It is the most magnificent example of Moscow Baroque architecture preserved in Russia to this day, seen in its churches, palaces and towers, is home to a treasure trove of religious artifacts and artwork, and is the resting place of Russia’s most eminent figures.

Essential Information for Visitors
Address and Contact Details
Addresses and websites are mentioned above.
Nearest metro: Vorobyovy Gory (located right next to Sparrow Hills Nature Reserve, and 2km from the observation deck).
Opening Hours
You can visit Sparrow Hills 24 hours a day. Admission to the nature reserve and observation deck is free.

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