The Staraya Basmannaya street starts from the Garden ring road at the intersection with the Pokrovka street (which in turn goes all the way to the Kremlin). The Basmanniy neighbourhood started back in the 17th century. There are generally two versions of what people living here did. According to the most popular version, it was a block inhabited by bakers - "Basman" is a certain type of bread that existed in the 16-17 centuries in Moscow.
The Staraya Basmannaya street served as a road from the Kremlin to the royal palace on the Yauza river, which was used by Tsar Alexei. During the times of Peter the First the street became a magnet for the aristocracy, because of the Nemetskaya sloboda and Lefortovo - home to a special district for foreigners. They were the favorite places of Peter the First and by the 1730-s the Starya Basmannaya hosted mansions for dukes and high profile government workers.
During the Soviet times the street was named Karl Marx Street. Many mansions were lost due to reconstruction, but the atmosphere of old Moscow was somehow preserved. The district is formed by the triangle between the Staraya Basmannya and the Novaya Basmannya street, that continues on the Spartakovskaya street to the Baumanka street. The Baumanka street is named after the Bauman University (the famous math and physics university) that is located there.
We recommend taking a subway ride to Baumanskaya train station, exit there to Baumanskaya street and turn right and follow the tram line for about 100 feet till the crossroads between Baumanka street and Spartakovaksaya. If you are thirsty for a coffee, stop at the Shokoladnitsa cafe on the corner. It is located on the second floor of an art-deco building and is really nice. Although it is part of a large chain, this specific Shokoladnitsa has a very human feeling inside.
Turn left at the Spartakovskaya and head for the Razgulayj Square. On your way you will pass by the Yelokhov Catherdral - don't forget to snap a couple of pictures. Razgulayj Square is actually named after a pub, that existed here at the city outskirts back in the 18 century. The pub is long gone, but the name stays ("razgulayj" would be best translated as "party-swinging-loving" ). From this point you can go further along the Staraya Basmannaya street or turn right to the Novaya Basmannaya street. We would recommend going ahead along the Staraya Basmannaya street and walking till building 15C3 that will be to your right and turn right into the Bauman garden. It is one of those small little gardens that people living in downtown Moscow treasure so much. You can walk through the garden and end up at the Novaya Basmannaya street.
After that you have two options: turn left and walk towards the Krasnie Vorota subway station located near one of Stalin's skyscrapers - the Krasnie Vorota Vysotka. Or turn right and do a round trip back to the Staraya Basmannaya street through the Alexander Luk'yanov street. Turn right back to the Staraya Basmannaya street and walk along this street straight to Pokrovka street (cross the Graden ring first by an underground walk). Keep to this street and the street that follows it - the Maroseika. You will eventually end up at the Il'inka street and the Red Square.
Where to eat/drink:
, Staraya Basmannaya st., 38 - rather strange place that looks like a soviet eatery but with tasty German sausages and fresh beer from Ireland.
Pokrovka st. 38 - One of the best sushi bars in town. The chef is actually Japanese. It is actually worth visiting if you're a sushi fan.
, Bol'shoy Kozlovskiy side lane, 4 - One of few Swiss restaurants in Moscow with a huge choice of fondu.
, Maysnitsky side lane, 2/1 - A popular spot for Vietnamese and Laos cusine in Moscow.
, Pokrovsky blvd ,18 - An indie rock night club that serves really good food during the day.
Might be useful:
35 MM cinema, Pokrovka st., 47/24 – The first cinema in Moscow that hosted premiers of the international indie scene. Most movies are shown with Russian subtitles, preserving the original language sound. Tickets vary from $5 to $10, depending on time of day.
Where to stay:
The Basmannaya district is a great place to live in Moscow and is very convenient for exploring Moscow, but it really misses a nice hotel. Hotels.tv Moscow recommends staying at the Green Mango Hostel (Novaya Basmannaya st., 25/2) - a very clean modern hostel that opened it's doors to guests in June 2011.