Moscow citizens used to have a tradition to take a bath once a week, on Saturday, and on special occasions. Back then however, baths were primitive and poorly equipped. Only at the turn of the 18th century, Moscow saw first baths which could be compared with best Turkish and Italian baths in the quality of service, exterior design and interior.
Today, on February 23rd, when Russia celebrates its Defender of the Fatherland Day, we want to tell you about one of the most manlike places in Moscow – men’s department of Sandunovskie Baths (or Sanduny).
The public baths were first opened in 1808. The name was derived from a Georgian nobleman Sila N. Sandunov, who was an actor at the court of Catherine II in the 1790s. He bought a land plot on the Neglinnaya River in 1800 to construct baths there.
In 1869, owned by merchant and landlord Ivan G. Firsanov, the baths were willed to Ivan Firsanov's only daughter, Vera Ivanovna, after his death in 1881. After Vera divorced her first husband, she married officer Alexey N. Ganetskiy, who was a son of General Nikolai S. Ganetskiy, a participant of the Crimean War. Alexey proposed the idea of building new baths.
In 1894, Ganetskiy hired a well-known architect named Boris V. Freidenberg, but he dropped the project and left Moscow. The new baths were finished by S. Kalugin and opened on February 14th, 1896.
The baths received water through a specially built aqueduct from the Babyegorodskaya Dam on the Moskva River and from a 700-feet deep artesian well. Electrical illumination was provided by a private power plant.
Along with the baths, Sanduny included a hotel, restaurants, and even a pet shop. Sanduny was serviced by approximately 400 attendants.
Not long after the completion of the baths, Ganetskiy lost ownership of Sanduny playing cards. Later, Vera paid his debts and divorced again.
Sanduny included baths for different sectors of society: the higher class and common people. There were departments for men, women and families.
The main building of Sanduny featured stores, apartments and baths.
Entrance to the men’s department.
"Sanduny. Superior quality men's baths".
The building in the center was also used as baths. It was a women’s department. Traditionally, young girls would come to Sanduny to have a bath before their wedding to wash their body with water from a silver washtub. Today, this building is a city hospital.