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MOSCOW AND NEARBY TOWNS

by

Micha Jelisavcic

John Sloan

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

For extensive photography of Moscow with text captions please go to photos. There are descriptions of major churches and monasteries in this section. More churches are in a special section now being expanded. We now also have new photography from the visit in 2005

PART I - MOSCOW

Early History
Landmarks, monuments and historic sites or districts
Kremlin
Fortifications
Grand Kremlin Palace
State Armory Museum
Granovitaya Palata- Palace of Facets
Teremnoy Dvorets (The Terem Palace)
Cathedral of the Archangel Michael
Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky Sobor)
Annunciation Cathedral (Blagoveshchensky Sobor)
Church of the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe
Bell Tower of Ivan the Great
The Patriarch's Palace
Arsenal
Moscow Senate
Chudov Monastery
Palace of Congresses
Moscow City
Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad)
Lobnoye Mesto (The Place of Skulls)
St. Basil's Cathedral
Kitai-gorod
GUM
Church of the Trinity (Troitskaya Tserkov)
Nikolskoya Street
Ilyinka Street
Varvarka Street
White Town
Sadovoya Ring
The Arbat
Cathedral of Christ the Savior
Kuznetsky Most
Military monuments
Novodevich'e Monastery (convent)
Donskoi Monastery
Church of the Twelve Apostles
Simonov Monastery
Danilov Monastery
The Danilov area in the Middle ages
Spaso-Andronikov Monastery
Novo-Spasski Monastery
Kolomenskoye summer palace
Kuskovo Palace Museum
Ostankino Palace Museum (Ostankinsky Dvorets)
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Tretyakov Gallery
Armed Forces Museum
History Museum
Museum of the History and Reconstruction of Moscow
Russian Revolution Museum
Poklonnaya Hill
Rogozhskoe The Old Believers cemetary
Izmailovo
Moscow region
Arkhangelskoe
Borodino
Kubinka, Museum of the Armored Forces
Monino - The Aviation Museum
Mozhaisk
Novoierusalimskii Monastery
Zvenigorod Go to Table of Contents

PART II - GOLDEN RING

Alexandrov
Bogoliubovo
Borisoglebsk
Mstyora, Palekh, Feodoskino, Khouli: Lacquer box towns
Nicola-Uleima
Pereyslavl-Zalessky
Rostov Velikii
Sergiev posad
Suzdal
Trinity Sergius Lavra (Monastery)
Vladimir: capital of grand principality
Yuryev-Polski Go to Table of Contents

PART I - MOSCOW

Early History

The hill located within the sharp angle formed by the confluence of the Neglinnaia and Moscow Rivers was long recognized as an ideal spot for defensive purposes. There are remains of pre-historic settlements dating back to 4000 BC in the area. The entire area between the Oka and Volga continued to be thinly populated during the milennia prior to the arrival of the Slavs. At some point during the 11th and 12th centuries the Slavs arrived and settled along the rivers. They built a wooden timber stockade on the Borovitskii Hill. This early settlement attracted the attention of the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Yurii Dolgoruki, who energetically sought to strengthen the frontiers of his new domain. The first mention of Moscow in the chronicles is for 1147, when Yurii invited his ally, Svyatoslav Ol'govich of Novgorod-Seversky, to visit him for a banquet in honor of the Prince of Chernigov at the frontier post he was building at Moscow. Archeologists have discovered the remains of the early wooden fort, enclosing some three to four acres that was already on the spot. In 1156 Yurii began construction of a larger wooden fortress next to the already thriving river port. The details of the fortification are described below. The town remained a frontier post for the Rostov-Suzdal- Vladimir principality for the next hundred years.
In 1238 Moscow too shared the fate of other Russian cities and towns and was pillaged and burned to the ground by the horsemen of Chingis Khan's grandson, Batu (Batia) Khan. (See the Siti River in description of Volga River towns). This marked the beginning of the Tatar yoke for the Russian nation, but the princes continued their internal struggles under foreign tutelage. Thus, when in 1272 the sons of Alexander Nevsky, Grand Duke of Vladimir, partitioned among themselves the territories that their father controlled, the youngest, Daniel, (Daniil) 1272-1303, received Moscow as his appanage. He went there and soon realized the possibility that Moscow could play an important role in preventing further dissolution of the country and eventually emerge as a new capital city in the subsequent struggles against the Tartars and in the fulfillment of the national aspirations of the entire people. In 1296 he proclaimed Moscow a principality and officially made himself the first prince of Moscow. His importance among Russian princes considerably increased, when in 1302 he took under his control the ancient principality of Pereiaslavl-Zalessky and a few regions around Moscow including Kolomna. Daniel enlarged his capital and laid foundations for its rapid growth. Its convenient geographical position offered many advantages for political expansion and for the development of local and foreign trade. With this came increased cultural relations with other principalities and neighboring countries. Daniel organized an army, built new fortifications around the Kremlin, and established several strategic forts around Moscow, including the Danilov monastery, which he founded. The Chronicle mentions that he built two wooden churches in the Kremlin: The church of the Transfiguration and the church of Archangel Michael. Daniel was canonized by the Orthodox Church and history recognized him as the founder of the dynasty of Moscow princes.
The subsequent victorious position of Moscow was not apparent in the 13th and early 14th centuries. Its principal rival was Tver and the Tatar khans generally made a policy of keeping the Russians disunited by shifting their support from one to another.
Yurii Danilovich (1303-1324) succeeded his father in 1303. He married the sister of Khan Uzbek of the Golden Horde. When the grand duke of Vladimir, Andrey III Alexandrovich, died in 1304, Yurii claimed the vacant throne of his uncle for himself as the only direct descendant of Alexander Nevsky. However, after prolonged conflicts and undignified conduct by both contenders at the Golden Horde, Khan Tokhty gave the "yarlyk" (a written decree issued by khans designating a prince to hold a certain title) to the nephew of Nevsky, Prince Mikhail Yaroslavich of Tver, (1305-1318) because he offered more tribute money than Yurii; he was the first to assume the title of "The Grand Duke of All Rus" (Russia). But Mikhail made a big mistake. After defeating Yurii in the battle of Bortenovo and capturing Yurii's wife, who was the khan's sister, he let her die in unexplained circumstances while in his control. This prompted swift Tatar revenge and the appointment of Yurii as grand prince, the first of the Moscow princes to gain the title. Yurii was able to call for Tatar troops to suppress Tver and saw to it that Mikhail was executed at the Tatar capital.
In 1321, Moscow prince Yurii Danilovich stopped in the horse trading post of Voznesenskoye on his long journey from Novgorod to the Horde, aiming to placate the khan, and answer the accusations of the Tver prince Dmitrii Mikhailovich that he was keeping tribute money owed to the khan. Despite the guard of the Novgorodians, he was captured by Dmitrii Mikhailovich's men but was not executed. He ran to Pskov. He finally reached the Horde in 1324 where he confronted his adversary, Dmitrii Mikhailovich, who murdered him. Then Dmitrii Mikhailovich was executed by the Tatar khan.
In 1328 Ivan I (Kalita) received the yarlik and title as grand prince. The struggle continued through the 14th century. In 1327 Ivan called for Tatar assistance again against Mikhail's son, Aleksander of Tver, and in 1329 he managed to see the Tatars execute Aleksandr Mikhailovich. From the time of Dmitri Donskoi at the end of the century the Tatar yarlik and title of grand prince of Vladimir remained in the hands of the prince of Moscow.
The breaking up of rule over the outlying territories by the sons of Dimitri Donskoy, Vasilii Dmitriyevich in Moscow, Andrei Dmitriyevich in Mozhaisk and Beloozero was the root of a devasting feudal war which ereupted a few decades later. The son of the Great Prince Vasili, Vasili Vasiliyevich struggled against his uncle, prince Yurii Dmitriyevich of Galicia for the khan's yarlik. The Khan Ulu-Mukhamed chose Vasilii Vasiliyevich to remain Great Prince and instructed Yurii to saddle his horse. Perhaps what this meant was to show Yurii "The door." Vasili Vasiliyevich compromised and turned over Dmitrov to Yurii's votchina.
In 1433, the boyar Ivan Dmitriyevich Vsevolzhskyi who had assisted the Great Prince Vasilii Vasiliyevich in gaining the yarlik, turned on him and ran first to Uglich and then Tver and finally to Galich to fan the flames of the struggle. At Vasilii Vasiliyevich's wedding to Marya, the daughter of Yaroslav Vladimirovich, prince of Maloyaroslaviya, the sons of Yurii, Vasilii and Dmitri Shemyaka caused an uproar.

The incident occured at the wedding which had no small repercussions and was recounted in detail by the chronicler. The boyar of the great prince, (in one source it was Peter Constantinovich Dobrynskii, and in another-- Zakharii Ivanovich Koshkin) recognized the gold belt that had belonged to Dmitrii Ivanovich Donskoi around the waist of Vasilii Yuryevich. This belt was said to have been a betroval of the bride Evdokia by her father Dmitri Constantinovich of Suzdal, but at the wedding of Dmitri Ivanovich and Evkokia, the tysiatskii, Vasili Velyaminov switched the belts. From Velyaminov it went to his son, then to Ivan Dmitriyevich Vsevolzhskii and from him to Vasilii Yuriievich. Sofia Vitovtovna, the mother of the great prince, tore the belt away from Vasili Yuriievich. Infuriated, he and his brother ran home to Galich. His father chose this as a pretext to begin a knock out, drag-on fight at the Trinity-Sergiyev Monastery with Vasilii II. Yurii defeated Vasilii at a battle on the river Klyazma. Vasilii ran to Moscow, and from there thru Tver to Kostroma. Yurii occupied Moscow, and as the new great prince made Vasilii a second-rate appenage prince at Kolomna. Vasilii was able to gather to himself the princes, boyars, sons of boyars, and court entourage to compell Yurii to leave Moscow. Yurii subsequently died and his sons could not agree on a successor.
In 1435, the feudal war continued between Vasilii II and Vasilii Yuriievich, the later after his capture in 1436 was blinded. The land grabbing was not only a internecine domestic matter but also was drawing in the strongest of the Tatars, Ulu-Mukhamed, who in 1437 defeated Dmitrii Shemyaka and Dmitrii Krasnyi and in the subsequent years invaded Russia several times. In 1438 he founded the new dynasty of Kazan khans. The horde khan's son, Mustafa, was defeated by a Russian army under the voevoda Obolenskyi and Goltyaev. His father, Ulu-Mukhamed, invaded Nizhni-Novgorod after defeating Vasilii Vasilyevich and taking him prisoner. His ransom of the enormous sum of 200 thousand rubles was paid but at a price of another attempt at subverting the throne by Dmitrii Shemyaka. Under Dmitrii Shemyaka's influence, Vasili Vasilyevich's cousin, Prince Ivan Andreyevich Mozhaiskyi headed a conspiracy of boyars, merchants and clergymen. During Vasili Vasilyevich's trip to the Trinity Sergeiv Monastery they kidnapped the Great Princess Sophia Vitovtovna and Mariya Yaroslavovna. Shemyaka was able to usurp the throne and had Vasilii blinded and his court disbanded. Vasilii fought back against Shemyaka and in 1447 was able to liquidate him by poisoning his supper in Novgorod. Vasilii came to be called "the dark." But from his reign forward the position of Moscow as the center of the new Russian state was no longer in doubt. Go to Table of Contents

Landmarks, monuments and historic sites or districts

Kremlin

Fortifications

Many medieval Russian towns were fortified with a kremlin or city walls or both. As the towns grew the kremlin became a citadel occupied only by the ruler and his officials and troops, while the town might have a longer wall around it as well. The first major fortification was built in 1156 at the order of Yurii Dolgoruki. It was a wooden wall, at first of pine and later of oak logs (35-40 cm in diameter and 6 meters long) and earth. The wall was three logs thick and about 1,200 meters in length with a moat. It enclosed an area on the Borovitsky Hill immediately next to the confluence of the Moscow and Neglinnaya Rivers and was only part of the present Kremlin. The first wall was attacked many times including by the Mongols in 1238 and 1293 when the town was burned. Go to Table of Contents
When he declared his appanage independent in 1296, Prince Daniel began construction of an enlarged and stronger kremlin fortress, again of oak logs and earthen ramparts. He also began construction of the first stone churches on Borovitsky Hill under the present Archangel and Assumption Cathedrals.
Ivan I, the third prince of Moscow, received the 'yarlik' in 1326. In 1339-40 he had the Kremlin walls extended to the north and east to inclose a larger area in which he could build the cathedrals and palaces befitting the new Grand Prince of Vladimir and the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church. The Metropolitan moved his see from Vladimir to Moscow in 1328. Ivan's fortification used oak logs up to 70 cm in diameter. He built the Uspenskii Sobor in 1327, the Chapel of Worship to the Chains of the Apostle Peter in 1329, the Church of Ioann Lestvichnik in 1329, and the Arkhangel'skii Sobor in 1333.
The first stone wall was built in 1367-8 by Dmitrii Donskoi as part of his program of preparing to resist the Lithuanians and Tatars. He expanded the defended area by building the new white stone walls and towers some 60 meters outside the existing walls. The limestone was brought fifteen miles. These walls were from two to three meters thick with battlements, making Moscow the strongest fortification in central Russia. The city was soon attacked by the Lithuanians (1360-70's) and then by Toqutamish in 1382 and was successfully defended until he gained admittance by trickery. The Tatars were not so successful when they returned in 1408 and had to be content with a small bribe to return home. This wall served for another hundred years against many assaults, although the limestone frequently had to be repaired with wood.. However, the wooden buildings inside suffered from many fires.
In 1472 Ivan III decided to expand and strengthen the Kremlin, by then already his citadel well within the environs of greater Moscow. As befitting his new status as heir to Byzantium and having a new Italian educated wife, Zoe Paleologos, the nice of the last Byzantine emperor, he sent to Italy for master architects and builders to remake his citadel into a "world class" masterpiece of urban architecture and fortification. The famous architects and master founders, Aristotle (died in 1485) and Andrea Fioravanti, Pietro Antonio Solari, and Marco Ruffo accepted the assignment and labored in Moscow from 1475 until 1495. The work was continued by whole teams of Italian masters until the Kremlin was filled with many of the cathedrals one sees today and the outer wall took on the appearance it now has (except for the tops of the towers added in the 1680's.)
The total length of walls, now made of specially fired brick, was lengthened to over two kilometers (2235 meters counting the towers). The interior space measures 28 hectares. The old fortifications were replaced one at a time starting on the most vulnerable, southern side by the Moscow River in order to reduce the danger from attacks during construction. This took ten years The height of the wall not counting the merlons varied from 5 to 19 meters depending on the terrain and the thickness was from 3.5 to 6.5 meters. The rampart is about eight feet wide. The merlons were in the shape of swallow's tails and from 2 to 2.5 meters thick with narrow embrasures between them. The walls had a wooden roof to protect the masonry from destruction and the soldiers from rain and snow. The new fortress had nineteen towers of differing shapes and size. The distance between them was determined by the firing distance of the cannon mounted in them. The main towers at the corners were cylindrical and the others were rectangular. All those along the sides of the triangular fortress projected somewhat and had bastions for defense firing along the walls. The side where the danger of assault was greatest had the largest number of towers. Each tower presented an independent well fortified stronghold, with connecting passages made in the walls. The top stories could be reached only through a narrow opening in the roof, if a ladder was placed there. There were also numerous underground passages running from the tower for sudden attacks on the enemy. During 1508-1516 a 32 meter wide and 12 meter deep moat was dug at the foot of the Kremlin wall facing the city and connecting the Neglinnaya River to the Moskva River. This fortification also saw many attacks and sieges including the time during the "Time of Troubles" it was held by Polish troops against the resurgent national forces of Prince Pozharski. During this period the structures suffered from neglect. The new Romanov dynasty decided to embellish their citadel, which no longer had major importance as a fortification. Thus we find today the tent-shaped towers with fancy clocks. In 1812 Napoleon sought to vent his spleen on a recalcitrant Russia by blowing up the Kremlin as he departed, but his troops succeeded only in inflicting minor damage.
Some of the towers have interesting stories in themselves. Following is some information about them:

Go to Table of Contents

Grand Kremlin Palace

During the war of 1812, the original palace, designed by Rastrelli, was severely damaged. Nicholas I supervised the building of a new structure by Konstantin Thon between 1838 and 1849. The Grand Kremlin Palace was the residence of the tsars when they visited Moscow. The style of this huge quadrangular edifice, about 370 by 200 feet and with some 700 rooms, is a mixture of Classic and pseudo-Russian forms. Thus the shape of arches that decorate the first floor were borrowed by Thon from the Cathedral of the Archangel; the window architraves resemble those of the old Terem Palace; and the "Tent" roof over the central part of the palace is another imitation of traditional Russian forms. Despite all this, the palace is not so dull as it is often pictured by Soviet critics. That criticism is often repeated by foreign critics, probably chiefly because the palace was commissioned by Nicholas I, for whom a special dose on animosity is customarily reserved. Its location is beautiful and dominant as it should be, and its interior sumptuous. A palace, wooden or stone, has stood from the early times on the same site. Napoleon was the last occupant of the one that Rastrelli built before it burned in 1812.
To the left of a large entrance hall, the vault of which is supported by four monoliths of grey granite, was the private apartment of the Emperor; to the right, a staircase that led to the Cathedral of the Annunciation; and in the middle, a magnificent granite parade staircase, leading to the antechamber and from there to several halls, all located on the second floor. There were five festival halls, named after the 5 highest Russian orders: The Hall of Saint George (Gheorgievskii zal), Alexander Hall (Alexandrovskii zal) and Saint Andrew the First Called Hall (Andreyevskii zal), now made into one hall for meetings, the Hall of Saint Catherine (Yekaterinskii Zal); two smaller halls and a long gallery of paintings. All the halls were decorated differently, with materials including marble, alabaster, rare wood, malachite, crystal, silver and of course, gold. Some halls were overloaded with stucco decorations. The largest was the Hall of Saint George, about 200 feet long, 70 feet wide and 60 feet high. Next was the so-called Hall of the Supreme Soviet, serving for their meetings, made in 1932-1934 by combining the halls of Saint Andrew, the former imperial throne room, and Alexander Hall. Stripped of most of its decorations, the room can seat 2,500 delegates. The remaining halls have preserved their sumptuousness and the sharp contrast is obvious when these glittering halls are compared with the simplicity of the large chamber that seated the Supreme Soviet until the Palace of Congresses was built. However, one thing was never lacking in Soviet establishments - the statue of Lenin, and behind the tribune reserved for the presidium, in the specially made niche stood Lenin in full size, sculpted by Merkurov, an honor that tsars were seldom accorded. The Hall of Saint Vladimir is behind the Hall of Saint George and connects on the opposite end to the Holy Vestibule (Sviatiya Seni) and through it to the Old Terem Palace. Also joining the Hall of Saint Vladimir is the little Golden Chamber ( Malaya Zolotaya Palata), one of the oldest and best preserved corners of the Kremlin, which served as an audience-chamber for the Russian Metropolitans until Ivan III gave it to his wife; it has since been used for receptions.
The Hall of St. George, named after the Order of St. George, is all white and gold, with 18 magnificent spiral columns adorned with allegorical statues and marble tablets inscribed with the names of the order's members. Through the main door is the Hall of St Vladimir, also named for a military order. The Hall of St. Catherine was the Tsarina's throne room and has fabulous green malachite columns worth millions of gold rubles. The palace connects directly to the Terem Palace built in 1635 as the tsar's private quarters and seclusion place for the royal women. Go to Table of Contents

State Armory Museum

Another important building that was designed by Thon and commissioned by Nicholas I is the Armory Chamber, (Oruzheinaya Palata) built in 1849-1851 on the spot where once stood the office of tsar's equerry and the mansion of Boris Godunov, in which he lived before he became tsar. Go to Armory for photography taken inside the museum during our visit in 2005. Though Thon wanted the Chamber to be a part of an architectural ensemble, where the new palace would be the central object, the new building, intended to serve as museum, came out more sober and simpler, with considerably less stucco molding. Soon after its completion; crowns, thrones, jewelry, bibles, icons, vestments, chalices, silver, gold and enameled utensils, china, crystal objects, saddles, carriages and hundreds of various other items were moved in, in all a fabulous treasury that hardly any other country could have heaped up in such quantity and variety. Indeed one cannot but marvel at what Russian tsars and grand dukes were able to pile up and preserve through centuries. Among the most curious items is the same staff, made of ivory and encrusted with gold and silver, with which Ivan the Terrible used to punish transgressors on the spot in fits of rage. It was with this staff that he killed his son Ivan.
Despite the fact that much of the tsar's treasure trove was lost over the years in terrible fires, the sheer pace of accumulation was so great that the volume of remaining items makes this one of the great royal museums. Among the most ancient treasures are gold and silver ware, church plate, and jewelry dating from the 10th century. The collection of fabrics including ecclesiastical vestments includes items to the 12th century. There is also the chalice of Yurii Dolgoruki. The helmet belonging to Yaroslav Vsyevolodovich is the earliest example of Russian armor. The collection is particularly rich with objects such as saddles, horse trappings and harness from the workshops of the Cavalry Office, which formerly occupied an area in the Kremlin.
German, English, and Dutch silverware is well represented along with Imperial regalia, thrones, crowns, scepters and orbs. The items include both those created by the numerous craftsmen who worked here and those presented to the grand dukes, tsars and patriarchs by foreign visitors. The armor collection includes personal pieces belonging to Yermak, Dmitri Pozharski and Peter I. Of particular interest are the various examples of dospek, including zertsalo, bakterets, and baidana. (See our large section on medieval arms and armor for illustrations and descriptions.)
The earliest written inventory of the kremlin treasures dates to the will of Ivan Kalita (1325-41). The first mention of a treasure building dates to 1485 when it was built between the Cathedrals of the Annunciation and the Archangel Michael. The great fire of 1547, which leveled the Kremlin, destroyed much of the precious items in the armory, treasury and household chambers. Even so, in 1572, when the tsar's treasure was sent to Novgorod for safekeeping from the expected attack by the Crimean Tatars, it was loaded on 450 sledges. During the 16th and 17th centuries as the power of Moscow expanded the treasure poured in in increasing volume. It became the custom to display this wealth to impress foreigners. The kremlin was plundered again during the Time of Troubles (1605-1612) first by the forces of the False Dimitri and then by the Poles. But by 1620 in the reign of the new tsar, Michael Romanov, the silver collection was begun again. The production of the workshops reached a peak in the second half of the 17th century.
Peter the Great, inspired by his introduction to the museums of the West, renovated the building and turned the Armory into a public museum. In 1709 the trophies taken at Poltava were added. In 1711 most of the master artisans were transfered to the new capital at St. Petersburg. Much of the treasure was moved then also. In 1804-5 the first formal inventory was completed. In 1812 the collection was moved to Nizhni Novgorod just two days ahead of Napoleon's arrival. It was moved to the new building in 1851.
Its nine halls are a luxurious glimpse of the power and splendor of tsarist Russia. In Hall III visitors can see the fabled Faberge eggs, the gem-studded Easter gifts of the Romanovs, while Hall IV is devoted to the robes and raiment of the tsars, including the gown that Catherine the Great wore to her coronation. Hall VI displays the unusual Double Throne once occupied by Peter the Great and his brother Ivan V, the diamond throne of Tsar Alexis, and a glittering throne studded with 2,000 precious stones, the gift of a Persian shah. In Hall IX is the world's largest collection of carriages. Other highlights include the fur-trimmed Crown of Monomakh, with which every tsar was crowned, and the Orlov Diamond, the gift of an ardent courtier to Catherine the Great. Go to Table of Contents

Granovitaya Palata- Palace of Facets

The Palace of Facets derives its name from the diamond-cut points of the stones of its facade, reflecting the Italian origins of its architects, Pietro Antonio Solario and Marco Ruffo, who completed it in 1491 at the command of Ivan III, the Great. It is thus the oldest secular public building in Moscow. The ground floor was administrative offices. It was used principally for state receptions held in the magnificent single 5400 square foot room on the second floor. The 9 meter high ceiling is supported by a massive pillar and four cross vaults. The entrance was through the Red Staircase. The triumph of Ivan the Terrible over Kazan was celebrated in the Palace of Facets, as was Peter the Great's defeat of the Swedes at Poltava. Following Ivan III's adoption of Byzantine customs, women were excluded from these receptions (until Peter the Great imported Western ways). The only original decorations are the carvings of the central pillar and around the doorway. The walls and vaults were covered with religious frescos, but the originals were destroyed by fire in 1682, burned again in 1696 and replaced in the 1880's by copies created by artists from Palekh. Go to Table of Contents.

Teremnoy Dvorets (The Terem Palace)

The Terem was traditionally the residence of the royal ladies, an exotic vision of golden towers that recalls the harems of Eastern potentates. Ivan III introduced into Russia the Byzantine practice of secluding women; no men were permitted in the Terem's confines except for the Tsar himself and elderly clergymen. Here the monarch relaxed among a horde of women who included not just his wife but a large number of unmarried sisters, aunts and daughters. The complex building incorporates sections constructed in several different periods. The first floor was built by Milanese architect Alevisio Novy, as the Grand Prince's palace in 1449- 1508. The palace complex includes a throne room where the Tsar considered the petitions of the people, and the resplendent Golden Bedchamber; the adjoining Golden Palace of the Tsarina was added by Tsar Boris Godunov, whose sister was also a tsarina. The upper floors were added in 1635-36 by Russian architects. Then the whole affair was integrated into the Grand Kremlin Palace during 1839-49. The result is that the Terem appears Byzantine, with detailed scenes from the Bible inscribed on the walls and ceilings, creating a dark and reverent atmosphere. There are several small private churches attached as well. The oldest is the Church of St Lazarus, built in 1393 in honor of the victory at Kulikovo Field. Three others can be seen from Cathedral Square as the eleven domes in their common roof appear to form a single structure. The Chapel of the Savior Behind the Golden Lattice dates from 1678- 81. Above it is the Church of the Crucifixion from 1681. Through a carved door is the Church of the Finding of the True Cross. The complex connects the Palace of Facets with the Church of the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe. We have a further discussion of the Terem in the section on Russian art and architcture and several picture at Terempic. Go to Table of Contents

Cathedral of the Archangel Michael

The Italian architect, Alevisio Novi, completed the five-domed cathedral in 1508, mingling the traditional Russian style with the classical sensibility of the Italian Renaissance. It replaced a wooden church built for Ivan I in 1333. The first murals were completed in 1564-65. The interior fresco style, painted in 1652-66, records everyday Russian life of the period. A new iconostasis was constructed in 1680-81, but the central icon of the Archangel Michael dates from the end of the 14th century. The Cathedral was the burial place of the tsars until the Russian capital moved to St. Petersburg in 1712. Its burial vault contains 46 sarcophagi, including those of Ivan the Terrible and his elder son, whom he killed. Look for the icon of the Archangel, attributed to Andrei Rublev. Go to Table of Contents

Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky Sobor)

Built in 1479 by Aristotle Fioravante at the command of Ivan the Great, this is the oldest and largest of the Kremlin cathedrals. It stands on the foundations of the old church dating back to Ivan I (1328-40). It was modeled after the cathedral in Vladimir, and became the blueprint for all future Russian churches. The political purpose was to stress the continuity of Moscow with the tradition of Vladimir. It has a gilded five-cupola dome. The outside walls are divided by pilasters into four equal parts with semi-circular arches above. The cathedral was used for the coronations of tsars and the enthronements of patriarchs, and for the burial of Orthodox clergy. The interior is covered in frescoes, the earliest painted by Dionysius in the 1480s. Russian craftsmen decorated the church for centuries and the volume of artwork is staggering. Of special note is the carved wooden throne of Ivan the Terrible--called the Throne of the Monomakhs--and the 17th-century iconostasis painted by monks of the Trinity Monastery in Zagorsk. The central half-ton chandelier, Harvest, was cast from silver recaptured from Napoleon's troops, following the burning of Moscow. The frescoes were repainted in 1642-43. The theme is focused on the Mother of God showing the life of Mary. The ecumenical councils that promulgated the veneration of Mary in the 4th-7th centuries are also depicted. There are also many priceless icons brought here when their original home cities were incorporated into the Muscovite state. Go to Table of Contents

Annunciation Cathedral (Blagoveshchensky Sobor)

The white cathedral across the square from Arkhangelsky Sobor is the golden-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation. Its foundations were laid in the 14th century. It was built in 1489 by artisans from Pskov. And during the reign of Ivan the Terrible six new gilded cupolas were added, giving it the present unique look with its nine domes. Ivan also had the tall staircase and porch on the south-east added. After his fourth marriage Ivan could no longer appear in church, so he built this porch leading to the gallery from which he could watch the service. The Cathedral was used as the private chapel of the tsars, particularly for weddings and christenings, including the wedding of Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst to Grand Duke Peter (Sophia is better known to history as Catherine the Great; her unfortunate husband, Peter III, was "accidentally" killed by her lover's brother). The earliest paintings here were by Theodosius in 1508. The subject is the apocalypse. The cathedral is filled with restored frescoes and contains the finest icon collection in the world. The paintings in the old church dated from 1405 and were painted by Theophanes the Greek, Prokhor of Gorodets and Andrei Rublev. The iconostasis is by them as well. It was moved from the old church in 1489. The floor is covered with polished tiles of agate jasper, given by the Shah of Persia. Go to Table of Contents

Church of the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe

Begun in 1484 as the private chapel of the patriarchs and metropolitans by Pskov masons, before construction of the Church of the Twelve Apostles. It's walls are covered with frescoes painted in 1644 by Osipov and Borisov.. The iconostasis, dated from 1627, is by Nazary Istomin. This small church is located between the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Palace of Facets. Go to Table of Contents

Bell Tower of Ivan the Great

Built between 1505 and 1508 by Pietro Antonio Solari, the bell tower is Moscow's tallest building and remains so by official decree. The octagonal, three-story main tower has 329 steps to its top, where the belfry's arched openings are filled with bells, each with its own name, including the great 19th-century Dormition Bell; they rang out as warning or jubilee throughout Moscow's history. The body of the tower is brick and its deep foundation os white stone. In 1532-43 the belfry in Novgorod-Pskov style was added on the north side. Boris Godunov added the gilded dome in 1600 raising the height to 81 meters. In 1624 a further wing with tent roof was added to the belfry. The French succeeded in demolishing the belfry and wing but the main tower survived the blast set for it. The belfry and wing were replaced by Gilardi in 1818-19. There are now 21 bells, some dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. The largest weighs nearly 70 tons.
Next to the tower is the Ivan the Great Square, where in medieval times the tsar's decrees were read. Now we can see, mounted on a stone pedestal, the Tsar Kolokol (the Tsar Bell). As befits its name, it's the world's largest bell and weighs 210 tons. It measures 6 meters in height and 6.6 meters in diameter. It was cast in the Kremlin by Ivan Motorin in 1733-35, during the reign of Anna Ivanova. It took that long to prepare the mold. The form was in a hole ten meters deep and lined with brick and oak beams. It was still in the hole in 1737 when the Kremlin was swept by fire. The supports burned, letting the huge bell fall deeper into the hole. Meanwhile the water used to put out the fire overcooled the bell, causing it to crack. There it remained for nearly a hundred years. The outside of the bell is decorated with portraits of Anna and her grandfather, Tsar Alexis.
Near the bell is its martial counterpart, the giant Tsar-Cannon. It was cast in bronze by Andrei Chokhov in 1586 in the Moscow cannon foundary near the Kremlin. It is 5.34 meters long with a caliber of 890 mm and weighs 40 tons. The elaborate carriage was cast in 1835. Originally it stood outside the Kremlin near the Spasskaya gate. Maybe its size impressed a few Tatars, but to the experienced eye it was obviously impractical as a serious defense weapon. Go to Table of Contents

The Patriarch's Palace

This was built in 1653-55 for Patriarch Nikon, who personally contributed to its design. It is located behind the Cathedral of the Assumption. At one time it was surrounded by a stone wall and numerous out buildings. When Tsar Peter created the Holy Synod in 1721 to take control of the Russian Orthodox Church, this body had its offices here. Of the five churches that originally stood in the Patriarch's grounds only the Church of the Twelve Apostles remains. It was constructed in 1655 and decorated by some of the best artists of the day. The icons are quite different from those in the three cathedrals. Go to Table of Contents

Arsenal

This huge yellow building is along the Kremlin wall between the Troitskaya and Nikolskaya towers. It was built between 1702 and 1736. It was one of Peter's projects as he prepared for the Great Northern War against Sweden. It was damaged by fire in 1737 and not restored until the 1780's. It also suffered much damage from the French effort to blow up the Kremlin. The building is a trapezoid with a large inner court. At one time Peter wanted to create a military museum to house his captured trophies in this building. This idea was again considered after the French retreat in 1812. It was rebuilt in 1816-28. Some 875 captured French cannon were placed along the walls. Nearby are several large Russian cannon of the 16th- 17th centuries. Go to Table of Contents

Moscow Senate

Another large triangular shaped, yellow building, this is located along the Kremlin wall between the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya towers. It was built on orders of Catherine II in 1776-88. It was designed to fit the space between the former Chudov Monastery and the Arsenal. The Soviet government installed its Council of Ministers here.
The Chudov Monastery and Vosnesenskii Convent were torn down to make room for the Kremlin theater, that now stands just inside the Spasskaya tower. Go to Table of Contents

Chudov Monastery

When one examines a pre-revolutionary map of the Kremlin one sees a very large assembly of structures just inside the Spasskaya gate. This is marked Chudov Monastery. The monastery was founded in 1365 by Metropolitan Aleksii and Sergei Radonezh. Interestingly the ground was given to the Metropolitan by the Tatar Khan Janibeg as a result of Aleksii's curing Janibeg's wife, Taidula, of blindness. The incident speaks volumes about the relationship between Moscow and the Golden Horde. One wonders, too, how the Khan came to own a large plot of land in the Kremlin. At any rate the monastery quickly became one of the most important and revered in Muscovy. The original structures were of wood. It was rebuilt in stone between 1501 and 1504 by Archbishop Gennadii of Novgorod. Many of the most important clerics in Muscovite history came from this monastery. During the "time of troubles' the pro-Polish and pro-Russian patriarchs were successively incarcerated there. Tsar Vasilii Shuiskii was forced to become a monk there when he was deposed. The buildings were destroyed by the Communist government in the 1930's to make space for their new offices and theater. Go to Table of Contents

Other medieval Kremlin edifices

See separate article on the medieval Kremlin.

Palace of Congresses

Begun in 1959 and completed in 1961, the 800-room Palace appears out of place architecturally in the Kremlin and has stirred up controversy which persists to this day. It stands on the site of the Church of the Redeemer, itself a modern addition to the Kremlin. It is a Khrushchev-era monolith of white marble and glass whose designers and engineers won the Lenin Prize. More than half the building is below ground, to avoid spoiling the historic Kremlin skyline. The 6,000-seat auditorium was once the main conference hall for Communist Party meetings. The palace also doubles as a theater for Bolshoi opera and ballet performances and other concerts. Go to Table of Contents

Moscow City

Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad)

This large open space measures 760 yards by 142 yards. It was originally a bustling sceen of commercial activity. The present open appearance dates from the 1490's when the jumble of wooden shops was torn down. The area has had several names. In the 16th century it was called Troitsky Square for a church that stood near the river. The name "red" meaning beautiful comes from the end of the 17th century. Nearby were the printing house and the merchant's stalls. When the Kremlin was repaired following the French invasion, the government also changed the look of Red Square. The huge moat that had separated the walls from the open space since 1516 was filled in. On the other side of the Kremlin the Neglinnaia River was diverted through an underground tunnel to a different spot and its course was also filled in making the Aleksandrov Garden. Go to Table of Contents

Lobnoye Mesto (The Place of Skulls)

A reminder of Russia's bloody past, the Lobnoye Mesto is a raised circular podium, enclosed by wrought-iron gates above steps. Here the tsar's edicts were proclaimed and the common folk sprinkled with incense by the Patriarch. But its name refers to its principal function: a place of execution. Many whom Ivan IV considered opponents met their deaths here. The Cossack rebel Stenka Razin, was tortured to death here. Peter the Great personally helped in the executions of 2,000 disloyal members of the Streltsy (musketeers) who staged a revolt at the behest of his half-sister Sophia in her bid to retain power.
Nearby is the monument to Citizen Minin and Prince Pozharsky, the leaders of the Russian forces that liberated Moscow from the Poles in 1612. It was designed by Ivan Martos and built in 1818 and paid for by popular subscription. Go to Table of Contents

St. Basil's Cathedral

The cathedral was finished in 1561 by Posnik Yakolev on orders from Ivan IV to celebrate his capture of the Tartar strongholds of Kazan and Astrakhan. In honor of the Virgin on whose feast day the victory had been won, the tsar called it the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat. But the cathedral is remembered as St. Basil's, after a holy prophet who defied Ivan repeatedly; the superstitious monarch sought to placate Basil after his death, by burying him in the cathedral's northern chapel. The cathedral is very much in the Russian style, with a central structure 107 feet high, surrounded by eight multicolored bulbous domes in different shapes--onions, tents, helmets. They are linked by an elevated gallery. There are eight small chapels around a central chapel. St. Basil's is now a museum illustrating the history of the building. Among the displays is one of Russian and Tatar arms. There are many more photos in the full photography section. Go to Table of Contents

Kitai-gorod

The oldest part of Moscow is the Kitai Gorod (fortified city) that lay opposite Red Square where GUM and the Rossia Hotel are now. It is the region of Moscow immediately adjacent to the Kremlin's southeast side. The name comes from the Russian word for poles (kit) used to strengthen the walls. In medieval Rus this part of Moscow came to be the locale for craftsmen and tradesmen and was known as the Large Settlement. It was crossed by the Great Street. It was defended from early times by the fortified Nikol'skii and Bogoyavlenskii monasteries (see also Bogoyavlenski for recent archeological discussion).
In the late 14th century an earthen wall was constructed between the Moscow and Neglinnaia rivers to serve as its outer defense line. In 1534 a regular wooden palisade on earthen rampart behind a deep ditch was constructed along the line of the modern Square of the Revolution, Teatral'nii and Kitaiskii streets and the bank of the Moskva River. Between 1535 and 1538 this was replaced by stone walls six meters thick and six meters high with 13 towers. The walls had three rows of firing ports and a parapet from which defenders could fire. Gradually the Kitai-gorod was occupied by the mansions of the wealthy boyars and by government buildings and the artisans moved out to the next suburb. This in turn was surrounded by yet another fortified city wall. The Kitai-gorod was burned by the Polish occupying forces in 1610 and again during the French occupation of 1812. The region became the commercial center of Moscow in the 18th century. A commercial market has occupied the site of the present GUM department store since at least 1786. Its wall and gates remained until well into the 20th century, but today only a very short section remains near Teatralnaya Square behind the Metropole Hotel and by Kitaiski Proezd at Varvarka Street. During their reconstruction of the older, run-down parts of Moscow, the Soviet rulers tore down practically all of the medieval city wall. (See the section on photos of Moscow for numerous buildings in this part of Moscow) Go to Table of Contents

GUM

Opposite the Kremlin and facing Red Square is a huge building, erected in 1890-1894 for the "Trade stalls" to replace the very old one which dated from 1595 and had become unsafe, though it had been restored the last time in 1815 by Bove (Beauvais). For centuries this area and the Red Square had been the main Moscow trade center, though this was often not to the liking of the grand dukes and tsars, whose main entrance to their Kremlin palaces was just opposite. One reason for building new "Stalls" under the roof was to eliminate the practice of trading at the square itself. The building is presently known as GUM, an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenii Universalnii Magazin (State department store), and it was designed by a professor of the Academy, A. N. Pomerantsev. He won a first prize for it, though he did not follow the conditions of the special commission, established to clean the area and take care of the construction, which demanded "Sparing construction expenditures and elegance in architectural forms." Nevertheless, Pomerantsev used marble and granite and decorated the exterior of the building with several old Russian elements, primarily borrowed from ancient Rostov architecture. A novelty was the great use of iron, reinforced concrete and glass, with which the roof of this huge building was covered. The latter work being that of an engineer, V. G. Shukhov. Go to Table of Contents

Church of the Trinity (Troitskaya Tserkov)

A red-and-white brick edifice that dates from the 17th century, when the Nikitkov merchant family financed its construction after the original wooden church burnt down. It's located in the Kitai Gorod. The church's beautiful frescoes, based on Old and New Testament stories, indicate that traditional Muscovite art had just encountered the humanist influence of the Western Renaissance, with its emphasis on perspective. The icon of St. Nikita, which the merchant Nikitkov is said to have saved from the destruction of the original church, remains in the church. Go to Table of Contents

Nikolskoya Street

There are three streets through Kitai Gorod from Red Square to the old wall. On Nikolskoya is the Zaikovo-Spassky Monastery, founded by Boris Gudunov in 1600. Its cathedral was completed in 1661. The old Printer Yard, established in the early 16th century is also on this street. Go to Table of Contents

Ilyinka Street

This is in the central postion between and parallel the other two. It remains a busy street today. A walk through this area shows the extensive construction and rehabilitation going on. And the high-class store windows are full of western merchandise. Go to Table of Contents

Varvarka Street

The Varvarka (called Razin Street under the Communists) is an old Moscow street whose name has become that of an entire district. Its name derived from the peach-colored St. Barbara's Church that dominates the quarter. The church is located at the end of the street nearest to St Basil's. On the right side as one enters the street from that end, the scene is marred by the massive presence of the Rossia hotel. But tucked neatly under its looming facade are some of the most interesting medieval buildings in the city complete with golden cupolas, steeply pitched wooden roofs in the Old Russian style and belltowers. The narrow street is lined with old churches. First comes St Barbara for which the street is named, built by Aleviso Novi in 1514 and rebult in 1796. Then comes the English residence, given by Ivan IV in 1556 to the first group of English merchants who reached the city via Arkangelsk. Then one sees the Church of St Maxim the Greek, dating from 1698 with a bell tower from 1829. The House of the Romanov Boyars dates from 1565-67, when they were one of the several families vying for favor with Ivan IV. It is the birthplace of the future Tsar Mikhail Romanov. The property was restored by Alexander II and displays charming Old Russian furnishings and tiled stoves. Then there is the Monastery of the Apparition with its five-dome cathedral of the 17th century designed by Matvei Kazakov in 1789. St. George's Church dates from 1658. The Church of the Conception of St. Anne is from the 15th century. The Church of All Saints in Nogina square was built by Dmitri Donskoi in 1380 to celebrate his victory at Kulikovo. Go to Table of Contents

White Town

Outside the Kremlin and Kitai Gorod was the Beliya Gorod or White City. To protect the people who lived in the White Town, the name given to the section of Moscow outside of the Kremlin and the Kitai Gorod from foreign invaders, during the reigns of Fedor Ivanovich and Boris Godunov, another fortified stone wall with 28 towers was built around the entire area. Moscow continued to grow, and the wall became obsolete. A good part of it was demolished during the reign of Elizabeth I. Catherine II ordered its complete elimination, and turned the space where the wall had stood into new avenues. This semi-circular ring is now known as the Boulevard ring. Not knowing what to do with the bricks and stones of the remains of the old wall, the governor of Moscow, Zakhar Grigorevich Chernishev, decided to build himself a mansion. It was erected in 1782 and though it is not certain, the design for it was ascribed to Kazakov. A few years later Chernishev sold the mansion to the government, and it has since become the official residence of Moscow governors. The residence has since been remodeled and enlarged several times. After the revolution the residence became the city hall, and with the increase in bureaucracy an annex was built behind it in the thirties; finally, in 1945, it received another floor. So very little, if anything, is left from Kazakov's time. The outer wall of this horseshoe shaped section is now converted into the Boulevard Ring from the Moscow River near the Cathedral of Christ the Savior around to the Yauza River. Among the ancient structures in this part of Moscow is the 14th century Rozhdestvensky convent whose wall is at the Boulevard ring. At Telegrafniya Pereulok is the Church of the Archangel Gabriel, built by Ivan Zarudny in 1704-7. Peter's right-hand-man, Alexander Menshikov, wanted to make the tower of this church the tallest in Moscow. He put a spire on it. Peter said he liked it so much he took it off and sent it to top the Admiralty building in St Petersburg. Nevertheless the Menshikov tower remained the second highest building in Moscow.
Among the oldest established monasteries in Moscow was the Vysoko-Petrovsky, founded by Dmitri Donskoi in the then village of Vysoko as one of the fortresses ringing the city. It was rebuilt by Vasilii Ivanovich who added three churches. It was the family church of the Naryshkin's Peter's mother's family. Eventually it lay within the city as the new wall passed right by it. The main structures are in good condition now on Petrovka Street and house a literature museum. Go to Table of Contents

Sadovoya Ring

As the city grew another fortification, an earthen rampart, was added even further outside this and completely surrounding Moscow with crossings of the river east and west of the city. It is 10 miles in circumference. Today the location of this immense wall is represented by the Sadovaya Ring road, which has various names throughout its course around the city. The large squares where the ring crosses the main radial streets are mostly named for the large fortified gates that stood in these locations. Go to Table of Contents

The Arbat

The name Arbat means "beyond the town walls," and in a way the district, one of the oldest in Moscow, is still a refuge for outsiders. In the 16th century the Arbat became the quarter of artisans dependent on the tsarist court, and visitors can still see the little lanes leading off the main thoroughfare, with such names as "Stablemen's Court" or "Pastrycook Lane." More recently, following extensive renovation, it has been transformed into a pedestrian precinct with numerous gift shops in restored buildings, a concert hall, and two art galleries. Since it is a favorite place for tourists to shop one has to be very careful not to pay too much for cheap items. Go to Table of Contents

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

In 1839, Nicholas I laid the cornerstone of the new Cathedral of Christ the Savior. He chose the location himself, about a quarter of a mile up the river Moskva from the Kremlin, where the Alexeyevskii Convent stood until then. The Cathedral was built in the form of a Greek cross, was about 330 feet high, and covered an area of over 73,000 square feet. The five traditional cupolas decorated the top; the central one was 98 feet in diameter. (Interior) A large staircase of granite descended towards the Moskva river, where a special pool was built for celebrating the Epiphany. Inside, four gigantic columns supported the roof structure and the cupolas. Nicholas and Thon mobilized the best Russian artists to decorate the Cathedral, but the subjects were chosen by the Moscow Metropolitan Filaret, the famous preacher and authority in religious matters, also remembered as a reactionary. It was Filaret whom Alexander II picked to draw up the final text of the manifesto of 1861 that emancipated the serfs. Part of the outside walls were decorated with 48 high-reliefs, sculptured by Ramazonov, Loghinovskii and Klodtpjugensburg, while Count Fedor Petrovich Tolstoy made the twelve impressive bronze doors, each with a bas-relief of a saint. The inside walls were covered with labradorite, porphyry and marble brought from Italy. Most of the known Russian contemporary painters, such as Markov, Vereshchaghin, Makovskii, Sedov, Shamshin, Semiradskii, Kosheliev, Bruni, Sorokin, Neff, Prianishnikov and others took part in the decoration of the altar, iconostasis, cupolas, columns, chapels and the galleries. All this was quite impressive, particularly the size of the Cathedral, but as a whole it was not of much artistic or aesthetic quality. It was for this reason that defenders of the Cathedral often measure its value in terms of the money spent for its construction. Obviously Thon's conception of architecture was superficial. He was unable to escape western influence and he failed to create an architectural monument that should bring back traditional Russian forms. He lacked a feeling for proportion and the picturesque, so often found in ancient Russian architecture, and his imitations were not neat.
The construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior dragged on a long time. It was dedicated in 1883 in the presence only of Alexander III and of very few veterans who, seventy years before, took part in the war against Napoleon. The Cathedral survived for less time than it had taken to build it. After the revolution its site was chosen by the Bolshevik rulers for their Palace of the Soviets, and the Cathedral was demolished.
In quest of grandeur, top Soviet architects were mobilized to build the highest and the biggest edifice in the world, to make any member of any communist party proud. The palace was supposed to be over 1,200 feet high, and strong enough to support, on its roof a 300 foot tall standing figure of Lenin that should be visible miles from Moscow. Ground work was begun in the thirties, but after thousands of tons of concrete and steel had been poured for the foundation, the whole structure started to slide towards the river Moskva. Hundreds of enormous pillars were driven into the ground and many more thousands of tons of construction material used to prevent the sliding. British and German specialists were invited for consultation, but there was mo way to stop the sliding and the entire project had to be abandoned. Believers saw in this God's punishment for destroying his house and intending to replace it with an atheistic palace. They were even more convinced in their beliefs when the sliding completely stopped the moment the construction was discontinued. To recoup some of their lossess, the Soviet government decided to use the foundation of the unsuccessful palace for building a swimming pool, the Moscow Lido, said to be the largest in Europe. For years the largest heated outdoor pool in the world was an attraction for many domestic and foreign tourists visiting Moscow.
The Cathedral is rebuilt now in a rush to show the power of the Mayor of Moscow. Go to Table of Contents

Kuznetsky Most

Kuznetsky Most (Blacksmith's Bridge) is a steep passage off Petrovka Street. During the 15th century it was the blacksmiths' district, later becoming a shopping district in the 19th century, and the quarter has been well-preserved. The house at no. 9, once the Yar restaurant, was frequented by Tolstoy and Pushkin. Go to Table of Contents

Military monuments

Yurii Dolgoruki, the titular city founder sits on his horse with his arm outstretched on Tverskaya Street at Sovietskaya square. It was created by Bergei Orlov for the celebration of the city's eight hundredth birthday in 1947. The city hall, originally built for the governor general of the city by Kazakov in 1782, stands opposite.
The Suvorov monument is at Kammuny Square. It was cast in bronze and mounted on a granite pedestal by Oleg Komov. Captured trophies including guns are displayed around it.
The Minin - Pozharski monument is in Red Square.
Marshal Kutuzov rides his horse on Kutuzov prospect near the arch celebrating his victory over Napoleon. It was created by N. Tomsky in 1973.
Pirogov monument commemorates the famous military surgeon of the Crimean War.
The Grenadiers of Plevna monument commemorates the heroism of the Russian troops at the Siege of Plevna in the Russo-Turkish war. It was created by V. Sherwood in 1887 and is located at Klyinskiye Vorota. Go to Table of Contents

Novodevich'e Monastery (convent)

Many art students consider the old frescoes inside the cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk to be the best examples of Moscow iconography. Particularly remarkable are those painted on the pillars. The cathedral is the oldest building of the Novodevichi Convent in Moscow, founded in 1524 by Vasili III to commemorate the reannexation of the city of Smolensk to his realm. Though it is nowhere specifically stated, it is generally assumed that its architect was the same Italian Alevis' Novi, who earlier had built the cathedral of the Archangel Michael in the Kremlin. The new cathedral repeats the main features of the Kremlin's cathedral of the Assumption, though to make it slightly different, Novi raised it on a basement and put the cupolas closer to each other, which gave the new edifice a slimmer look. There is no information about the painters who decorated the cathedral after it's completion, nor about those who repainted them. Boris Godunov restored the cathedral in 1598 and ordered new icons for its iconostasis. Before that, Boris had lived for a while in the Monastery, and it was here that Patriarch Job asked his consent to become tsar of all Russia after the Zemskii Sobor, an assembly of representatives of various social groups, had offered him the throne a few days earlier. The scene is depicted in Mussorgski's opera, Boris Gudunov.
The convent was built as a fortress at the intersection of three crossings of the Moscow river. It was part of the defensive system that included the Donskoi and Danilov- Simonov and other monasteries. The convent was a prominent place for the royal and boyar women who became nuns. It was a favorite of the Tsars, who regularly bestowed great gifts for its endowment. The complex of 15 buildings, surmounted by golden domes, is one of the oldest religious complexes in the city. The brick walls were constructed at the end of the 17th century. There are seven churches within the walls. The entrance is under the Preobrazhenskaya nadvratnaya (Transfiguration gate) Church, built 1687- 89. In the Smolensk Cathedral visitors can admire a series of frescoes depicting the life of Basil III. Another special art work is the elaborate iconostasis, the gift of Peter the Great's sister, the Regent Sophia. Peter had her locked up in the convent's Chamber Prison with her lover thoughtfully hung outside her window after she fomented a streltzi uprising (the Khovantshchina). The bell tower was finished in 1690. The Uspenskaya (Assumption) church was built in 1685-87. Boris Gudonov's sister Irina, Peter's half-sister Sophia, and Yevdokia Lopukhina all lived in this convent. The Pokrov Church and the Refectory Church and several churches and residence halls also date from the period 1683-1690. The cemetery is a favorite tourist attraction since it contains the remains of many prominent personalities such as Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin's second wife, the writers Gogol and Chekhov, the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Go to Table of Contents

Donskoi Monastery

When in 1591, the armies of the Crimean khan Kazy-Girei approached Moscow and took Kotly, the Russian warlords brought their forces up to this location, placing themselves between the attackers and the city walls: "His excellence the tsar (Feodor Ioanovich) ordered the boyars and war lords to bring up all their regiments along the Moscow river on the meadows under the Kolomenskoye and Danilov monasteries." Next to the Danilov they set up "Oboz," a mobile fortified camp (gulai gorod). The khan sent against the oboz his sons, "tsars," but "would not directly engage us and his regiments he did not deploy," retreating to Kolomenskoye and holding both sides of the river.
The Russian armies remained in camp - "and from the fortified camp oboz they did not set out." - However during the night alarm was raised, the canoniers opened fire, and were supported by heavy artillery from the Moscow walls. The sudden cannonade scared the Crimeans, and the armies of Kazy-Girei panicked and ran from the Russia's lands.
The monastery was built beginning in 1593 to commemorate the victory on this field with the miraculous help of the Presviatoi Bogoroditsy (the saintly virgin), the icon which was presented to the great prince Dmitrii Ivanovich by the Don cossaks, which Muscovites believed saved their city in 1591 from the attack of the Crimean Tatars of Kazi Girei. The Monastery was to serve as a defensive bastion for the Kaluga gates of the city.
Most of the fortification was not built until 1684-1733. The Virgin of Tikvin gate church is over the north entrance. It contains seven stone churches; the Old Cathedral of the Donskaya Virgin was the first to be built, in 1593, and its domes are capped by half-moon crosses that signify Christianity's triumph over Islam. It has two chapels: Sergei Radonezh and Fedor Stratilate. The church was built when the monastery was founded on the site, where stood the camp church of the Tsar Fedor Ivanovich at the time of the attack of the Crimeans, and the chapels where added in 1659. The New Cathedral of the Donskaya Virgin was erected at the order of the Regent Sophia in in 1684-1693. Inside are frescoes painted by the Italian Antonio Claudio. It was later sacked during the Time of Troubles and restored by the Romanovs. It was again damaged by the French in 1812. It was one of the richest monasteries and has a famous cemetery, adorned with pyramids, temples and sarcophagi, that contains some of the most famous names in Russian history, including the philosopher Peter Chaadayev, writer Turgenev, aviator Nikolai Zhukovsky and a number of Decembrists.
In the XVIIth century, the monastery was named in honor of the Saintly Mother of God "Donskoi, "Chto v oboze." In the monastery was kept the genuine Icon of the St. Virgin of Don painted in 1392 by Theophanes the Greek which had been preserved in the Kremlin's Annunciation Cathedral, Blagovechenskiy sobor, now in the Tretyakov Gallery). The icon was taken by Dmitrii Donskoi on his campaign against Mamai. Russian tsars in the XVIIth century prayed for victory over their enemies and carried her to battle in the Sergei Radonezhskyi campaign church. Go to Table of Contents

Church of the Twelve Apostles

Built in 1656, the church once served as the Patriarch's private chapel and was attached to the Patriarch's palace. In 1721, Peter the Great, who effectively broke the power of Russian Orthodoxy as a rival to the state, turned it over to the Church Council of the Holy Synod--his instrument for controlling the church. In 1963, the church was converted into a museum of 17th-century life. Its numerous exhibits include examples of period books, jewelry, furniture and textiles created by both Russian and foreign craftsmen, all assembled in a striking setting. Part of the museum complex has been transformed into a typical 17th-century house. Highlights of the museum include the Krestovskaya Palata (Hall of the Cross), where holy oil was consecrated, and a small reading primer once owned by Peter the Great's son. Go to Table of Contents

Simonov Monastery

It was founded in 1370 and became a fortress to defend Moscow from the east along the Moskva River. It covered the roads from Vladimir and Kolomna. It was the most powerful of the defensive fortifications. It was a favorite of the grand princes and became one of the largest land owners in the Russian state. The historians have different view points as to its origin. It was founded by a follower of Saint Sergei, Simeon. Another approach is that of V.A. Kuchkin who believes that it was founded by Simeon the Proud. The territory of the monastery was to have been used by the Great Princes for get aways. The location was where the Moscow river makes sharp turns and is bordered by steep banks. This interpretation is dubious in that the distance between that of the Simonov monastery and the steep banks is substantial especially in distances measured in the middle ages. Thus it is believed Prince Ivan Ivanovich founded the monastery on the Steep Banks "V Krutitsakh." It is likewise believed that the "old" Simonov monastery was the internment site of the two warriors of the Kulikovo battle - Alexander Peresvet and Andrei Osliaybya. In 1431 the church of the Vvedenie Vo Khram Svyatoi Bogorodisty was built in brick on the grounds of the Simonov monastery on the north end of the ramparts built by Dmitrii Donskoi in 1367. The towers and walls built during the 16th century and reconstructed in the 17th are still standing. The Dulo tower is a fine example of Russian fortification construction. Go to Table of Contents

Danilov Monastery

Thought to be the earliest of the monasteries (forts) in the Moscow principality and founded by Prince Daniel as one of the six fortified complexes guarding the southern approaches to Moscow against Tatar attack. The foundations of the monastery were laid no later than 1282 and perhaps as early as 1272. On his death bed, Prince Daniel asked to be buried in the monastery which he founded and he was so laid to rest, as is recounted in the Troitskaya chronicle, "Not in the church but within the grounds." This information is directly contradicted by L.A. Belyayev: "In as much as can be understood, the Troitskaya chronicle also did not contain any notes of the foundation of the Danilov monastery. It contains, as does the Lavrentyev chronicle, a note on the death of Danil Aleksandrovich, and the place of his internment was the Archangel Michael cathedral in the Kremlin. The date of his death is given as March, 1303. The first mention of the existence of the Danilov monastery we learn from the article pertaining to 1330 in the Troitskaya chronicle, written not earlier than the beginning of the XVth century. It was an outpost to defend against raids by the Horde. Go to Table of Contents

The Danilov area in the Middle ages

Such was the apelation at any rate in the XVIth-XVIIth centuries of the area lying to the south-east of Moscow, down the river, and lying against the Danilov monastery.
The documentation of the XVIIth-XVIIIth centuries testify, that the Danilov area - was important in the political-economic sense and also in the military sense as a frontier of Moscow, possibly having in the past an even more important significance.
In the XVIIth-XIXth centuries the Danilov frontier post was little used and the road saw only rudimentary use. From the Kremlin to Danilov the roads were only archaic in the XVIIIth- XIXth centuries curled along the river banks.
The main road from the south ran somewhat to the west, thru the Serpukhov frontier post. One could only travel along the Danilov road after having crossed the Moscow river and then regain the Serpukhov route down river in the area of Kotlov, or turn towards Kolomenskoye. A floating bridge remained here. Possibly this was where the crossing was in antiquity.
In an analysis of the events of the military actions around Moscow in the XVIth- XVIIth centuries, one comes to the conclusion that Danilov was a place continuously contested between those laying siege and the defending forces of the city, a sort of "no man's land," a cross roads and a zone of contact between those sides.
It was rebuilt by Ivan IV who added the monastery's Cathedral of the Holy Fathers, where Prince Daniil is buried in a gold sarcophagus. In 1983, Soviet authorities released the monastery into the hands of the Orthodox Church and it's now the official residence of Moscow's Patriarch. The entrance is the St Simeon Stylites gate church built in 1730's. The Church of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils was built in the 17th century and rebuilt. The Trinity Cathedral was built in 1830's.
In the fall of 1606 the expanse between Kolomenkoye and Danilov again was transformed into a battle field. The companies of Ivan Bolotnikov and Istoma Pashkov, marshals of the cossack-noblemen army, set up two camps here. This time the asailers succeeded in taking the surrounding area of the monastery and the river before the tsar's warlords. Isaac Massa recounts how the advance company of cossacks "soon approached Moscow at a distance of one mile and stood at the river Danilovka and occupied the village of Zagorye (Zaborye), and immediately dug entrenchments. Go to Table of Contents

Spaso-Andronikov Monastery

The metropolitan Alexei founded this monastery overlooking crossings of the Yauza River. It was built as a fortification covering Moscow's eastern approaches in 1360. It covered the area between the Yauza and Moscow. (See Andronikov. ) Its name combines that of the Savior (Spaso) with that of its first abbot (Andronik), who took over when Alexei was called away to heal the favorite wife of a Tartar prince. The monastery's Cathedral of the Savior was built in 1427 and is now the oldest stone building in Moscow. It is adorned with frescoes painted by the master icon-painter Andrei Rublev; Rublev is thought to be buried in the monastery's crypt and a museum dedicated to his work adjoins the building. The Church of the Archangel Michael, built in the baroque style, was commissioned by Peter the Great's mother-in-law in honor of her grandson's birth, although Peter sent her to Siberia soon afterward. The monastery became a popular base for the Old Believers, a schismatic religious sect created when the Patriarch Nikon attempted to reform the Russian Orthodox Church under Peter's father, Tsar Alexis. The monastery also has the Rublev museum of early Russian art, which, however, has none of Rublev's own icons. The master icon painter Andrei Rublev was born around 1360, and is considered one of the greatest Russian artists who ever lived. In a 17th-century text, one can read: "...The revered Andrei of Radonezh, called Rublev, has painted many holy icons, all magnificent." His art, in contrast to the austere asceticism of his contemporary, Theophanes the Greek, reflects a spirituality born of love and understanding, uniting delicate colors and supple contours with a rare tenderness and majesty in his subjects. He decorated many of the Kremlin's structures, as well as various monasteries throughout the "Golden Ring"--the towns that surround Moscow. Go to Table of Contents

Novo-Spasski Monastery

This fortification dates from the 15th century. The Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration) Cathedral was built in 1640 by the Romanovs in the likness of the Assumption cathedral in the Kremlin. The Pokrovskaya (Intercession) Church dates from 1675. The Church of the Sign (Znamenia) dates from 1808. Nearby is the Krutitskoe Podvorie, the residence of the Metropolitan of Moscow from the 16th century. There is the Uspenski (Assumption) Cathedral and a fine Baroque gate tower. Go to Table of Contents

Kolomenskoye summer palace

In the southern part of Moscow, across the Moskva River. The former summer residence of the grand dukes of Moscow, and later of the tsars, now houses exhibits on Russian applied art and architecture.
The first known stone church of this tent-type was the church of the Ascension in the village of Kolomenskoye, built in 1532 by Vasili III to commemorate the birth of his son Ivan, who would be named the "Terrible." Some researchers consider that foreigners participated in the construction of the Ascension church, including Petrok Malyi, who was to gain later fame for erecting the Kitaigorod wall. In affirmation of this version is that in restorations conducted in 1977, the date 1533 was found on the capital of one of the pilasters.
The 16th century began with an increased impulse for splendor and the desire of the grand dukes to leave to posterity an image of their greatness. Along with this came a determination that Russian artistic aspirations be nourished to a larger extent by their own ingenuity and efforts. Russians approached this goal more successfully in architecture than in any other art. They turned their backs on Byzantine forms, which until then in various degrees and shapes had prevailed in Kiev, Novgorod, Vladimir and even Moscow (the later primarily marked by Italian architects), and returned for inspiration to their native source - the traditional wooden church construction - daringly adapting many of its forms and elements to the newly erected stone and brick churches. Stress as put on vertical lines of the structure, usually by combining a square or cross-shaped base with pointed arches and two or more tiers of recessive decorative semi-circular or ogee-shaped kokoshniki with an octagonal superstructure, and all crowned with a high tent-shaped roof ending in a small drum and cupola, or a small tower with a cross on the top of it. This type of construction required no piers inside. The entire central part of the church looked like an enormous pillar (or tower), whence came its name "Stolpo-obraznii khram" - the pillar-shaped church. Sometimes there were several smaller pillars joined together around the central one. Added porches and external galleries around the edifice further accentuated the height of the central structure, giving to it an impressive pyramidal silhouette, meant to express a heavenward impulse. Various decorative elements, borrowed from popular decorative art, add much to the beauty of these rather small but fascinating Russian churches of the 16th century.
The Savior Gate dates from 17th century, as does the Kazan Church, the front gate and clock tower. The Voznesenski (Ascension) church was built between 1530 and 1532 for Grand Prince Vasilii III in the old Russian "kokoshnik," or tent style. The Bell tower was built in 16th century. The Church of Ioanna Predtechni (St John the Baptist) was built for Ivan IV in 1540's. Some items have been moved there from other locations. Among them is the log cabin in which Peter the Great lived while at Archangel. Other wooden structures are a 17th-century mead brewery from Preobrazhenskoye, a Prison Tower from Siberia (1631), and the Kazan Church (1600s). Go to Table of Contents

Kuskovo Palace Museum

This estate is 6 miles east of the center of Moscow, just south of Ismailovo park. The fabulously wealthy Prince Sheremetev, who became even more wealthy when he married Princess Cherkasskaya, built this palace as a summer retreat in the 18th century. The prince, who owned more than 150,000 serfs and trained many of them in various capacities, employed his talented serf-architect, Alexei Mironov, in its construction. On the shores of a lake, Kuskovo is surrounded by extensive landscaped grounds. The wooden palace was turned into a museum in 1918, where visitors can enjoy the authentic 18th-century furnishings, chandeliers and silken wall coverings, as well as an outstanding 18th-century art collection. The Ceramics Museum, located in Kuskovo's park, contains superb examples of Russian and European glass and porcelain. Go to Table of Contents

Ostankino Palace Museum (Ostankinsky Dvorets)

Annoyed by gossip about his beautiful peasant wife, Count Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev decided to leave Kuskovo and look for privacy in the nearby village of Ostankino, where the Sheremetev family had another estate. He inherited it from his mother, former Princes Varvara Mikhailovna Cherkasskaia. As a young man the count showed great interest in music, theater and the arts in general. When he decided to build a new mansion at Ostankino, he had it in mind t have in it his own theater, a library and halls for his collection of paintings. Sheremetev consulted several architects, domestic and foreign, but, in the absence of specific information, the question of who finally did design the wooden mansion remains unanswered. Most often art historians speak of Quarenghi, Blanc, Camporesi, Starov, Nazarov and even of Bazhenov, or conjecture that they all contributed something toward the new home of Count Sheremetev, nicknamed "Croesus, Junior" because of his enormous wealth. Quarenghi's involvement in the planning of the mansion could be explained by the fact that he had won first prize in the first architectural contest in Russia, and the count would not miss the chance to have a winner design his new building. The actual construction lasted quite a long time, from 1791 to 1799, and according to documents was supervised by the count's own serf master-builder A. Mironov and P. Argunov, the brother of the painter N. Argunov. The mansion was built in a modified imitation of the style of luxurious Roman villas, locally known as "Moscow classicism." Here also we see Ionic orders decorating the facade and large dome on top of the central part of the building. Foreign visitors mention the interior decoration, done with great care and taste, with carved wood as main element. Vases, candelabra and even delicate chandeliers that look as if they were made of bronze, are nothing but gilded carved wood.
Particular attention was paid to the decoration of the Theater Hall, located in the center of the mansion. The count admired his beautiful actress-wife, Praskovia Zhemchugova nee P. I. Kovaleva, and did not spare expense to please her. Some of the best drama, ballet, opera and concert performances in Moscow were given right in that hall. Sheremetev had established a special school, where Russian and foreign teachers trained his artists, singers and dancers. Most of them were serfs, as was his wife; they received a complete education that sometimes included a fair amount of French and Italian. Soviet art historians usually exaggerate when they describe the life of these serf-artists as miserable, and they neglect to say that they were offered an adequate opportunity to develop their talents and in some instances were granted freedom. Besides the count's wife, other famous serfs were the ballerina T. V. Granatova (nee Shlikova) and the singer and musician S. A. Degtiarev, who was freed and later became a well-known composer. The oratorio "Minin and Pozharskii" was one of his best works. The huge garden around the mansion, which included an artificial lake and woodland, was quite attractive. Beginning with Paul, all Russian emperors visited Ostankino, and the list of dignitaries included the Polish King Stanislas Ponintowski and King Wilhelm III of Prussia, the father in law of Nicholas I. During the occupation of Moscow by Napoleon's troops, Marshal Ney lived in the mansion. After the revolution the estate was expropriated and then neglected for years, restored in 1935-1946 and finally turned into a museum.
To the south of the mansion is the Trinity Church, an interesting example of the best in Moscow church architecture. It was built in 1678-1683, most probably by the serf-builders of Prince N. A. Cherkaskii. The church has the traditional kokoshniki and five cupolas, but it differs from others because of its two chapels, one on each side, with special entrances and each crowned with a single cupola. The elaborate brick construction is decorated with tiles and white stone, which became very popular during the period of the Moscow baroque. Go to Table of Contents

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

The museum, built in the classical style in 1898, contains a famous collection of European art, including masterpieces by Botticelli, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens, Cezanne, Manet, Picasso, Monet and Matisse. The French impressionists are particularly outstanding. Look for Cellini's "Perseus," Botticelli's "Annunciation" and Delacroix's "Shipwreck," among other treasures. Other rooms are devoted to classical and Oriental art, with statues and reliefs from Egypt and Babylon, and an outstanding collection of Coptic textiles. Go to Table of Contents

Tretyakov Gallery

The magnificent museum of more than 50,000 works is a treasure house of old Russian religious art. The gallery was originally the idea of Sergei and Pavel Tretyakov, brothers who were both ardent patrons and collectors of art. In 1892, they generously donated their exceptional collection to the city of Moscow, to become the nucleus of the museum. The most famous icon in the collection is the 12th-century Virgin of Vladimir, credited with saving Moscow from the Tatars in 1395. Also on view is the enormous "The Appearance of the Messiah Before the People" by Alexander Ivanov, which took 20 years to complete. Go to Table of Contents

Armed Forces Museum

Exhibits cover the history and development of the Soviet armed forces since 1917, with particular emphasis on World War II, which the Russians call "the Great Patriotic War." Artifacts from the American U-2 reconnaissance plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers, which was captured over Siberia in 1960, and a large collection of captured German military flags are also on display. Go to Table of Contents

History Museum

This turreted brick building that stands opposite St Basil's at the other end of Red Square is the home of Moscow's oldest museum, although the structure itself was built in the late 19th century. Exhibits illustrate Russian history and the evolution of the many peoples living in the former Soviet Union. Millions of items are displayed, including ancient weapons, agricultural tools, costumes and textiles. Historic treasures include the saber and bed that Napoleon abandoned when he was forced to retreat from Moscow, a sleigh belonging to Peter the Great, the iron cage in which the great rebel Pugachev was brought to Moscow, and Lenin's "Decree on Peace." Go to Table of Contents

Museum of the History and Reconstruction of Moscow

It is in the former church of St John the Precursor, built in 1825. The museum has excellent exhibits showing the growth of the city over the centuries. Go to Table of Contents

Russian Revolution Museum

Count Razumovsky's 18th-century palace is now the home of a museum dedicated to the Revolutionary cause. During the 19th century, the building flourished as the "English Club," a center for liberal and intellectual minds in Moscow. Tolstoy was a frequent visitor--he lost a thousand rubles at the gaming tables--and the club figures in Pushkin's romantic narrative poem "Eugene Onegin." In 1913 a splendid banquet was held here, at which Nicholas II was a guest, to commemorate the tricentenary of the Romanov dynasty. Ironically, the museum now records the downfall of that dynasty, with over a million items tracing the course of the Russian Revolution. Relics, photographs and documents illustrate the history of the 1905 Revolution, the February revolt of 1917 and the Great October Socialist Revolution that followed. Go to Table of Contents

Poklonnaya Hill

Poklonnaya Hill derives its name from the Russian word meaning "to bow". The citizens leaving or entering Moscow traditionally stopped here and made their reverence to the city. Before the expansion of the suburbs the location provided the best view of Moscow. Napoleon paused here in 1812 to admire the soaring golden spires and white towers of Moscow before demanding that the city hand over its keys. He was deeply disappointed and shocked when no 'boyars' or keys were forthcoming. After several years of construction, this ideal spot is now home to a vast World War II memorial complex that opened May 9, 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of victory over Hitler's troops; it comprises a memorial museum, a promenade of fountains, an outdoor display of tanks and military equipment and a Russian Orthodox Church of St. George. A 142-meter monument towers in front of the museum, topped by the Goddess of Victory that symbolizes the 1,420 days of the war. Go to Table of Contents

Rozhgoskoye

The Old Believers cemetary (1771) and area is located at Preobrazhenskoye, northwest of Ismailovo park. This includes an Intercession Church which has a one of the finest collections of old icons dating from before the schism including one by Rublev and a number from his students. Go to Table of Contents

Izmailovo

The royal estate park and barracks and Pokrovsky (Intercession) cathedral dating from 1679. In 1683 Alexei Mikhailovich established an experimental farm on this estate. The remains include the large Bridge Tower. This complex in the trees is but a short walk across the highway from the Izmailovo Hotel. It is well worth the effort to see. The Pokrovsky is especially interesting. Go to Table of Contents

Moscow region

Arkhangelskoe

Two most impressive mansions in the Moscow area are one in Arkhangelskoe, built by Prince Golitsin, and another in Ostankino, built by Count Sheremetiev. (See Ostankino) Both date from the end of the 18th century and both have been well preserved. These two very rich and powerful families wanted to match the luxury of the privileged few around the imperial family.
The land around Moscow has many very beautiful spots. Already during the time of Ivan the Terrible, boyars and dvoriane had acquired large estates there, distributed by the tsar. These lands were known as "Pomestie," considered by some historians to be the determining factor in the establishment of serfdom. Boris Godunov owned Bolshie Viazemi (see church Zhivonachal'noy troitsy), Prince Mstislavskii - Kuntsevo and Fili, Prince Cherkaskii - Ostankino, boyar Sheremetev - Kuskovo, etc.
The village of Arkhangelskoe belonged at the end of the 16th century to A. I. Upolotskii received its new name after its beautiful little church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, built in the middle of the 17th century. Ownership of the village located about twenty miles west of Moscow, changed hands often. In the beginning of the 18th century it was purchased by Prince D. M. Golitsin. As head of the Supreme Privy Council, the Prince wanted to limit the powers of the Empress Anna Ivanovna. He failed and was later incarcerated in the Schlisselburg fortress which his brother had captured from the Swedish army in 1702. He died there in 1737. The estate in Arkhangelskoe remained neglected until 1780 when his grandson, Prince N. A. Golitsin, commissioned the Parisian architect de Guerne (?) To draw up plans. De Geurne designed the mansion without overseeing the location, and his plans served as the basis for its construction. Little is known about de Guerne, but judging by the mansion he obviously embraced classical forms and relied greatly on Paladian standards. The two story structure has a high colonnaded belvedere on top, and a square entrance hall, connected to the luxurious oval salon, decorated with sixteen Corinthian columns. At its south side, three doors lead t the vast and beautiful garden stretching all the way down to the Moskva river. Particular attention was paid to the cour d'honneur consisting of two outbuildings, joined by an impressive arched entrance, and connected to the mansion with double rows of giant orders considered to be among the first built in Russia. In the garden French taste dominates, with many sculptures, pergolas, fountains, many avenues and walks between trimmed trees. There is also a pavilion which houses a bronze statue of the Empress shown as Freneida, goddess of justice, with an inscription in Latin which reads: "To Divine Catherine." The pavilion was built in 1819 by the new owner of the mansion, Prince Yusupov, a great admirer of the empress. In front of the statue there used to be a bronze tripod in which sweet-scented herbs burned continuously. Prince Nikolay Borisovich Yusupov, the well-known patron and connoisseur of art and literature, who personally knew Voltaire, Rousseau and many prominent men of Western Europe, purchased the mansion in 1810. He wanted it primarily for his summer residence and to house his rich art collection and library. Western educated, the Prince brought to Arkhangelskoe the style of life that he had experienced in France. He did much for the propagation of arts and letters and at one time was director of the Hermitage. He had his own architects, painters, sculptors, several workshops, and his own porcelain factory, established in 1818. The objects produced in the factory were never sold, but only given as presents. The porcelain objects were of the best quality and high artistic value; sometimes plain white objects were ordered from other factories and then painted in Arkhangelskoe. His art collection included canvasses by Velasques, Raphael, David, etc. Princes and celebrities were often entertained at Arkhangelskoe. Empress Maria Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas I were among the many visitors. Pushkin was also there a few times. In his "Ode To The Noble," (K Velmozhe), dedicated to the Prince, Pushkin expressed his admiration for the delightful place he visited. At the end of the 19th century, to commemorate the centennial of the poet's birth, a marble bust of Pushkin was put in the garden. However, nobody knows who the sculptor was. Herzen was there too, calling Arkhangelskoe a "Beautiful flower," where one enjoys the beauty of nature and forgets about its function.
The Prince was also a well-known theater lover, and at one time Director of all Imperial Theaters in Saint Petersburg. He had his theater in Moscow and built another in Arkhangelskoe in 1817-1818, which could seat 400. Most of the artists, ballerinas, musicians and singers were specially chosen and trained serfs. Occasionally foreign artists, choreographers, stage directors etc., were also invited. The performances offered there for free were among the best in the country.
Yusupov's son did not care much for Arkhangelskoe and was there only occasionally, but at the end of the century his descendants revived old traditions and the mansion was again one of the centers of Moscow artistic and literary life. The revolution put an end to this: the owners were expropriated and chased out, and for a while the entire estate was neglected. Then Lenin came to Moscow and the mansion was hurriedly cleaned to receive its new proprietor. He did not move in though because there was no phone connection to Moscow, and to establish one would have taken too much time.
A year before the revolution, Yusupov, commissioned the Moscow architect R. I. Klein to build a burial chapel for him not far from the existing Church of the Archangel Michael. Klein chose the classical style, and built the chapel in the form of a pantheon, to which he added semi-circular double rows of colonnades. Similar colonnades decorate the rich interior, surrounded by a large dome. In the early sixties the chapel was turned into a laundry and storage house for the sanatorium that the Soviets built in 1937 at the far south end of the estate. Presently the chapel serves to display Yusupov's collection of porcelain and faience, both domestic and imported. As for the mansion, it was restored, redecorated, and made to appear much as it did during the first Yusupov ownership, and was turned into a very interesting museum. Go to Table of Contents

Borodino

Borodino is a village 124 km from Moscow. On August 26, 1812 it was the scene of the most decisive battle of the 1812 War with Napoleon. It was here that the Russian commander in chief Michael Kutuzov following the surrender of Smolensk to the French forces took a decision to stage a decisive battle against the Napoleonic army. Although tactically the decision seemed to go to Napoleon, strategically the outcome was favorable for Kutuzov. Russian troops displayed outstanding gallantry. Russia's army corps commanding generals included such outstanding military commanders as Prince Bagration, Marshal Barclay de Tolly, M. Miloradovich, B. Dokhtarov, M. Platov and others. the Russian army had 104,000 men and 627 guns. The French had 124,000 men and 587 guns. The casualties in Napoleon's army ran as high as over 50,000 dead and wounded (28,000 killed), the Russian casualty figures stood at 44,000. The Battle of Borodino heralded the crisis in Napoleon's strategy of the General Battle. Napoleon failed in this attempt to totally destroy the Russian army, make Russia surrender and dictate her peace terms. His forces suffered grave losses while the Russian spirit was enhanced. The battle signaled the beginning of the catastrophe that engulfed the Grand Army.
In 1941 there was vicious fighting at Borodino between Soviet and German troops. The Borodino field features numerous monuments dedicated to the Russian men in combat as well as the monument to the fallen French soldiers. Today Borodino is an open-air museum spanning the territory of 110 sq kms. The tour of this museum usually starts from the large poplar that was planted in front of the museum building in 1839 when the ashes of P. I. Bagration were buried in the place of the former Raevsky's battery. Then the tourists would go up to the Gorki village where Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov's command post was located. From the hill with the monument to the glorious Russian field marshal on its top, one can observe the whole battlefield, as well as the location of the main operations - the Shevardinsky redoubt, the Semenov's fleche, and the Ravesky battery. Go to Table of Contents

Kubinka, Museum of the Armored Forces

The museum is just to the left off the main Moscow - Smolensk highway. The Museum of Armored Equipment has one of the largest collections of armored vehicles in the world. The 290 items range from 3-5 ton light tanks and armored cars to super-heavy, 180 ton monsters. There are 40 self-propelled guns from 57 to 600 caliber, 30 armored cars, 10 reconnaissance and command vehicles, and a variety of technical and engineer support vehicles.
Vehicles from 11 foreign countries are represented. During the Civil War and foreign intervention the Red Army captured several French and British tanks. One of the Reno tanks was taken by Lenin's order to the Sormobski factory in Nizhnigorod as a model for Soviet tanks. In 31 August 1920 the first Soviet built tank, a 7 ton vehicle with 8-16mm thick armor was produced. During the 1920's the Red Army purchased many foreign examples of tanks to use as models for future domestic production. During World War II the USSR received American tanks under Lend-Lease. The bulk of foreign tanks in the collection was captured during World War II. Others were obtained by exchange with the British Armor Museum or were given by Soviet allies and clients from items they captured in Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Middle East Wars, etc. There are 129 Russian items including many prototype models of vehicles that were not produced in quantity. For photographs of some of the interesting vehicles in this museum please go to Kubinka. Go to Table of Contents

Monino - The Aviation Museum

Monino is a suburb on the eastern outskirts of Moscow off the main road to Vladimir. Its location was not well known because of the military installations in the area. The Aviation Museum features displays on the history of aircraft from before World War I until the present. Most attention is focused on World War II. But some of the interesting early aircraft on display include Sopwith and Viazen Farman IV. The museum also has the famous long- range Ilya Muromitz. World War II aircraft include I-16, MIG-3, La-7, Yak-9, Il-2, Il-10, Po-2, Lu-2, Pe-2, Tu-2, and Su-2. Virtually all post-war aircraft types are present including some not seen in the West.
The museum staff received valuable assistance from the aviation design bureaus such as Antonov, Mikoyan, Il'yushin, Mili, Lavochkin, Sukhoi and Tupolev in setting up these displays. There are about 140 actual aircraft including helicopters and 220 models. There are 120 samples in the collection of aviation engines. There are over 2,000 items of machine guns, cannons, and rocket launchers. There are over 2,500 items on aviators. The photo archive has over 15,000 negatives. The library has over 10,000 examples of literature on aviation. In the film archive there are over 125 documentary films on the history and development of aviation. The museum has 550 sculptures and paintings of leading aviation figures.
The exhibition is divided into ten halls and two hangers plus two very large open fields. The material is organized into five departments. The first department, in Hall One, is on the birth and development and military use of airships in Russia. The second department, in Hall Two, is devoted to the Red Air Force in the civil war and period of foreign intervention 1918-20. The third department, in Hall Three, is on Soviet military aviation between the wars, 1921-41. The fourth department, in Halls Six, Eight and Nine, is on Soviet military aviation in the great Fatherland War, 1941-45. The fifth department, in Hall Ten, the hangers and field is on Soviet aviation from 1945 to 1980's. In Hall Five is an exhibition on the Leninist Komsomol's support for aviation. In Hall Four there is a display of the work of the design bureaus. And in Hall Nine there is a display on the military aviation of the fraternal socialist countries. The displays feature use of dioramas, maps, photos and actual items.
The museum works to go to clubs, units, schools, and factories to give educational presentations on aviation. It helps schools and youth groups to develop interest in this subject. Go to Table of Contents

Mozhaisk

Mozhaisk is closely connected with the military history of Russia. It is mentioned first in the chronicles for the siege that the troops of Novgorod laid on the city and then for its resistance during the Mongol Invasion of 1237-40. Since that time Mozhaisk was called the Shield of Moscow, as for some time it was the only fortress on the Muscovite principality on its western defense line. During the war of 1812 Mozhaisk came to the center of military operations, despite the fact that before then the city had almost lost its strategic significance because of the expansion of the Moscow state's boundaries. It was near Mozhaisk that in 1812 the first Russian guerilla detachment under Denis Davydov began operating. During World War II Mozhaisk became the strong point of one of the most important strategic lines of the Western Front. In the city itself as well as in its surroundings bitter fighting took place. "I've come here to defend the Borodino battlefield!" declared Colonel Polosukhin, the commander of the Far Eastern infantry division. For six days and nights his soldiers held the line near Borodino without sleeping a wink. Today the fortifications erected in the area during the two wars are completely restored to their original design. This majestic memorial embraces about 200 monuments and relics of fortification architecture. Mozhaisk is 12 km from Borodino, the most sacred place in Russia. The city is dominated by the Cathedral of St Nicholas built during the reign of Ivan IV. Go to Table of Contents

Novoierusalimskii Monastery (or Voskresenskii - Resurrection)

It is located in Istra next to the Istra River. It was funded by Patriarch Nikon in 1656. It has fortified walls and towers built in 1690-94. Many of the buildings were destroyed by fire in 1726 and it was rebuilt in 1749. It contained five churches and very many chapels. It was burned by the Germans in 1941 and restored by 1959. Go to Table of Contents

Zvenigorod

About fifty miles west of Moscow is the town of Zvenigorod, the ancient capital of Zvenigorod princes. After the death of Dimitri Donskoy this territory went to the youngest of his four sons, Yurii Dimitrivich. Some say he was the second oldest son. Here in 1396-1399 on a hill above the river Moskva, which dominates the valley. The area was made into a fortification by earthen ramparts, and a wooden fort with towers. In 1407 in the center of the enclave Yurii built the Cathedral of the Assumption in stone and the bells of the Cathedral served to warn Moscow of the approach of invaders. Presumably this was the reason that the nearby town was named Zvenigorod - the town of bell ringing. The area was taken by the Germans during World War II and much damaged. Now the river valley is filling rapidly with the impressive dachas of the new rich from Moscow. Go to Table of Contents

PART II - GOLDEN RING

Alexandrov

In the northern outskirts of Moscow, the Alexandrov Sloboda was Ivan IV's headquarters for 17 years, 1564 - 1581, during the height of his oprichnina period. The Assumption Monastery (convent) built in the 17th century, is sometimes considered to be the town kremlin, since it has high walls and eight fortified towers and a deep moat. Its five- cupola Assumption cathedral was built in the 16th century, possibly by Ivan's father, Vasilii III, but it too has been rebuilt so often that little remains of the original structure. Both Peter's half-sister, Maria, and his daughter, Elizabeth, were exiled here. Maria is buried here, while Elizabeth went on to become Empress and is therefor burried in the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg. The oldest remaining church is the Trinity Cathedral from 1513. The gate doors were taken by Ivan IV from Novgorod and Tver in 1570. The Church of the Intercession was his court chapel but was rebuilt in the 17th century. The Church of the Purification dates from the last of the 17th century. There is a tall bell tower next to the Church of the Intercession. Go to Table of Contents

Bogoliubovo

An ancient village on a high point overlooking the Kliazma River, near its confluence with the Nerl, it was the ideal location according to Prince Andrei Yuryevich to build his fortress. His father, Yurii Dolgoruki, had given him Vyshgorod near Kiev as his appanage, but Andrei prefered to remain in the Vladimir- Suzdal region. Andrei's mother was a Kypchak (Cuman) princess. Although his nickname, "Bogoliubiski" means God Loving, he was a powerful and fearless warrior who ran roughshod over everyone, his own people included. When Yurii died, Andrei became grand prince of Vladimir. He built a powerful fortress complete with towers and moat and quarters for his druzhina. Attached was the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin. Not a lot of the former castle remains. There is one tower and a passageway connected to the church. It was on the staircase of the tower that Andrei was murdered by his rebellious boyars on 29 June, 1174.
But it is his Church of the Intercession on the Nerl that has come down through the eight centuries as one of the most revered architectural masterpieces in Russia. It was built on an artifical island right at the rivers' confluence to commemorate the death of Andrei's eldest son in battle with the Volga Bulgars. According to accounts the Bulgars brought the stone up river as tribute. It is a very small, white, single-domed church, but the design is exquisite, with every element contributing to give it an appearance of height and upward movement. Go to Table of Contents

Borisoglebsk

Twelve miles northwest of Rostov is the small town called Borisoglebsk after the Monastery nearby. The monastery was founded in 1363 originally with wooden walls. It was protected on three sides by the Ustye River and a deep pond. A moat covered the fourth side. It was turned into a strong fortress in the 1520's when Vasilii III had the logs replaced by stone. Its walls are ten feet thick and forty feet high and of 1.5 km length include 12 towers and two gates, circular towers in the corners and rectangular ones along the sides. It was the strongest fortress in the entire region. The walls had firing ports for both cannon and archers. The gates were made of heavy oak reinforced with iron. These were reinforced by a portcullis. It withstood repeated attacks by the Polish and Lithuanian armies during two years in which the local villages were burned. Among the buildings from architect Grigory Borisov's era are the Sretenskaya Gate Church (1680), the Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral (1522-24), Church of the Annunciation (1527), and the St. Sergius over the Gate Church (1545), the Refectory, Prior's Residence, Dormitory, Wafer Bakery and Treasury. In the 1600's Metropolitan Jonah of Rostov restored the monastery and added four new churches. The three-tiered bell tower and Church of St John the Baptist was completed in 1680. Go to Table of Contents

Mstyora, Palekh, Feodoskino, Khouli: Lacquer box towns

Mstyora lies 100 km north east of Vladimir, on the Klyazma River, the same river that flows past Vladimir. The village was first mentioned at a trade center in the 17th century. Lacking arable land, the villagers focused on crafts and trade, icon painting, needlework, and copper and silver smithing.
The lacquer miniature originated as an art form in China and Japan. It arrived in West Europe in the 16th century. The first lacquer art in Russia dates to the early 18th century. Between 1716 and 1722 the Monplaisir Palace at Peterhof had a room decorated by Russian artists using lacquer panels. Soon the lacquer industry was established in both St. Petersburg and Moscow departments, with the making of snuff boxes, trays, goblets, and caskets of papier mache. Later lacquer on metal developed near Moscow and in the Urals.
The lacquer miniature industry in Russia was firmly established in the 18th century in Fedoskino by a merchant, I. P. Korobov. His factory prospered throughout the 19th century in the capable hands of his son-in-law, P. V. Lukutin. In 1910 the master artists established a labor artel, enabling the industry to survive the war and revolution.
Meanwhile, from the 17th century icon painting became centered at Palekh, Mstyora, and Khouli. Palekh was a trading and crafts village on the Paleska River in the Ivanovo region just north of Vladimir. In the 17th century serfs on the Buturlin estate began to develop icon painting as a cottage industry. During the 19th century the Safonov family of leading artists came to dominate the industry.
The artists at Fedoskino painted in oil but the icon painters in the other villages developed the technique of making multi-layered art works using tempera prepared from powdered pigments mixed with egg yolk as a base. The Fedoskino school continues to preserve their traditional style, which emphasizes peasant scenes and landscapes. They use much gilt and some mother of pearl inlay. While it sometimes takes a few moments to distinguish a box from Palekh from one from Mstyora or Khouli, those of the Fedoskino school are readily identified.
With the Russian revolution the demand for icons vanished. In 1922 the Palekh master icon painter, Ivan Golikov, visited the Moscow Museum of Handicrafts and noticed the papier mache boxes produced by the artists of Fedoskino. He decided to try to adapt this medium to the painting techniques used for icons and to shift the subject matter from religious themes to every day scenes. Soon he attracted other artists of Palekh. By 1924 the work was exhibited abroad. The artists then formed the "old style guild" which attracted the patronage of Maxim Gorky.
The subject matter favored at Palekh remains mostly themes from literature and history from Homer to today, fairy tales, legends, and folk songs. Often multiple scenes narrating a story are shown on the four sides and lid of the box.
The Mstyora lacquer artel was established in 1931. These artists chose a style different from either Palekh or Khouli. Their boxes are known for their multi-colored ground (as opposed to the sold black of Palekh) for the miniatures painted in light turquoise and ocher or pink shades. Their landscapes are more realistic than Palekh designs. The trees often have multi-colored foliage. The human figures are more realistic than at Palekh, but they favor themes from history and legend. In this respect the art of Mstyora stands between that of Palekh and Fedoskino.
Today, with the breakdown of the Soviet rigid industrial and labor regulations, there are many artists producing lacquer boxes on their own. The quality varies drastically. For one thing, there is a great shortage of genuine papier mache boxes. These are produced in special factories attached to the main box factories. So the private artists resort to using boxes made from particle board. These are sure to warp or crack over time destroying the painted surfaces. The sides of the papier mache box are made as a single piece, whereas the ordinary boxes are made of four boards with mitered corners. Even worse, there are many counterfeits being sold which are not even painted at all but merely have decoupage of printed paper illustrations pasted on the tops. The buyer is strongly advised to carry a pocket magnifying glass to examine the box. Go to Table of Contents

Nicola-Uleima

The Monastery of St Nicholas on the Uleima is nine miles from Uglich on the road to Rostov. It was founded in 1400 as a guard post covering the road between Rostov and Uglich. The original fort was an earthen rampart, ditch and wooden stockade. It was still in this primitive condition in 1608 when the Polish- Lithuanian forces of Hetman Sapieha arrived. The small garrison supplemented by the monks and local civilians defended the monastery to the last man. The Poles set fire to the walls and interior buildings. The defenders heldout in the cathedral until it too collapsed on them in flames.
The five-domed Cathedral of St Nicholas was rebuilt in 1675 on the old foundations. It is typical of Yaroslavl style architecture of the 17th century with frescos covering the walls. The Church of the Presentation in the Temple was rebult in 1695. It is a more important architectural monument. The hipped roof, pilasters and moulded kokoshnik gables give it a distinctive appearance. There are also a bell-tower, refectory and dormitory. The Gate church of the Trinity dates from the early 18th century. The monastery's wooden walls were also restored. Go to Table of Contents

Pereyslavl-Zalessky

Pereyslavl-Zalessky (population 45,000) is 109 miles northwest of Moscow. It was built in 1152 to defend approaches to Vladimir-Suzdal. Among the Russian princes of the 12th century, Yurii Dolgoruki (Long-arm) is considered to be the most active and far seeing. After having founded Moscow in 1147 he decided to protect northeastern Russia from invasions of disturbing neighbors. He built Pereyslavl-Zalessky near the place where the Trubezh River flows into Pleshcheevo Lake on the cross roads of the route leading from Kiev to Rostov Veliky and the river route from Novgorod to Vladimir-Suzdal territory and on to the lands of the Volga Bolgars.
In 1220 the future Russian commander Prince Alexander Yaroslavovich, who later came to be called Alexander Nevski, was born in Pereyslavl Zalessky. "Those who will come sword in hand, will be put to the sword", once that famous Pereslavlian said. And up to the present the city reveres the memory of its great citizen. A large part of the Pereyslavl city tour is devoted to Prince Alexander Nevsky. It was one of the great towns of medieval Russia, with over 50 monasteries. In 1302 Pereyslavl was united to the Moscow principality. Anthony Fletcher visited the town and listed it as one of the finest in Muscovy.
On the banks of the beautiful Pleshcheevo Lake the young prince Peter I studied shipbuilding. He had found a small sailing boat at the Romanov estate east of Moscow and wanted to learn to sail it. For 4 years he built his famous Poteshny (funny) Flotilla there. That is considered the ancestor of the Russian Navy. In Pereslavl itself Peter found experienced assistants who as well as the Dutch shipwrights made their contribution to the construction of galleys, yachts, and frigates. They helped make Russia a sea power. At the museum one can still see the deep cut in the hillside where the shipbuilding ramp was located.
Today in Pereslavl tourists can see the earthen ramparts that were used as defensive construction during the middle ages. Pereslavl is the only city in Russia where such ramparts were preserved almost in full. Even now one can enter the center of Pereslavl through the northern or southern gates, made in the ramparts, or can walk along their main top section. The remarkable angle of repose of the earthen bank testifies to the clever construction technique of the builders, who filled log cribs with earth to create it.
In the kremlin is the white limestone Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, also built by Yurii in the 1150's. Its beautiful simplicity, solid cube with a single dome, attracts the visitor. Inside nothing of the original decoration remains after countless burnings by Tatars and others. But it remains one of the two oldest buildings in northeastern Russia. The Church of Alexander Nevski dates from 1746. The Church of St Peter the Metropolitan, dating from 1585, has a tent shaped roof on an octagon base. The bell tower wasbuilt in the 1800's. The Church of St Vladimir, built in 1745, is baroque style. The Smolensk Church is from 1697-1705. The Simeonovskaya Church was built in 1771. The Soroksvyatskaya Church dates from 1775.
On the southern outskirts the Goritsky Monastery dominates from a steep hill. It was founded in 1337, but the whitewashed brick walls now seen were built in the 17th century. There are two gates in the 800 meter long walls. The Church of St Nicholas is over the entrance gate. Athe Assumption Cathedral, built in 1757, looks Russian from the outside but is a marvel of western Baroque design inside. Yakov Zhukov carved the iconostasis. The All Saints Church, bell tower, and refectory museum complete the complex. Peter lived here in 1689 while working on his fleet. The tank museum outside the entrance gate is a monument to the designer of the T-34, a local hero.
South of town is the Fedorovski Monastery (convent) founded in 1551. The Cathedral of St Theodore Stralites was built here in 1557 to commemorate the birth of Ivan IV's son, Feodor. The Presentation of the Mother of God Church dates from 1710 as does the bell tower.
Five kilometers from town is the St Danil Monastery founded in 1508 by the Monk, Daniel. Its tent-roofed Trinity Cathedral was built in 1532 by Vasilii III to honor the birth of Ivan IV. Its All-Saints Church dates from 1687 and the refectory from 1695. The Glory of Our Lady Church and bell tower were built in 1698.
Most impressive is the strongly fortified St Nikita Monastery, three kilometers north of town on a hill overlooking the lake. It was founded in 1170 by the monk, Nikita. It endured a heavy siege by the Poles in 1611 and was repaired I n1643. The Cathedral of St Nikita was built by Ivan IV - 1561-1574. The Annunciation Church and refectory date from the 17th century. The bell tower was completed in 1668. The Archangel Gabriel Church is over the entrance gate.
Three kilometers west of town is the Botik estate at Veslevo on the lake. Here is the museum to Peter's navy. In a small building is Peter's boat, Fortuna, the only one left of the 100 strong flotilla, except for one other in the Naval Museum in St Petersburg. In 1722 Peter ordered all to be preserved, but 87 were burned in a fire in 1783. The museum opened in 1803. There are several other buildings including an estate house set up as a museum of the period. The monument to Peter I was commissioned by Grand Dukes Nikolai and Mikhail Nikolaevich. Go to Table of Contents

Rostov Velikii

The Principality of Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir was one of the strongest political divisions of Kievan Rus. It controlled all the major rivers in northeast Rus including the Moskva, Oka, Kliaz'ma, and Volga. The population grew hay, flax and hops, raised livestock, hunted and trapped for fur, fished, and engaged in crafts and commerce. But control of the center of the great route between the Baltic (Europe) and Caspian (Central Asia and Near East), gave the local merchants great wealth and power.
Rostov Velikii (the Great) (population 40,000), located on Lake Nero, is one of the most ancient towns in Russia first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle for 862. Troops from Rostov reportedly participated in Oleg's attack on Constantinople in 907. Christianity came to Rostov in 989 with a mass immersion in the lake. In 1054 Yaroslav the Wise divided the Rus lands among his sons. Vsyevolod received the Pereiaslavl, Rostov, Suzdal, and Volga River region. He sent his son, Vladimir Monomakh to Rostov in 1068. When Vsyevolod died in 1093, Vladimir Monomakh became the sole ruler of northeastern Rus. He fortified the region, but returned to rule from Kiev. When Monomakh died in 1125, his son, Yuriii Dolgorukii, separated Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir from Kiev and made Suzdal the capital. However Yuriii continued to seek the central throne at Kiev, then held by his brother the Grand-Prince Mstislav. The Rurikid (Norman) dynasty was in constant warfare among its members for control of the many towns and in simultaneous struggle with the boyar aristocracy which resisted their efforts at central control. Yuriii fortified many of his strongholds throughout the Rostov-Suzdal area. His son, Andrei Bogoliubskii shifted his capital to Vladimir. Andrei was assassinated in 1174 and his brother, Vsyevolod "Big Nest", won the ensuing struggle.
In the 12th century Rostov grew to equal Kiev and Novgorod in size and importance and in 1207 it gained independence from Vladimir-Suzdal during the struggle between Vsyevolod's sons, Yuriii and Konstantin. The principality included also such towns as Yaroslavl, Uglich, Mologa, Beloozero, and Ustiug. The first prince, Konstantin Vsyevolodovich, became Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1216 after defeating his brothers Yuriii and Yaroslav in pitched battle on the Lipitsa river.. He followed the standard princely practice by dividing the Vladimir principality among his brothers and the Rostov principality among his sons, thus reducing Rostov and making the other towns also independent.
Rostov was demolished by the Mongols in 1238 but rebuilt. In 1262 the people joined those in other Russian towns in rebellion against the Mongols. During the 13th century Uglich and Beloozero were rejoined to Rostov. The principality was again split in half in 1328. Ivan I of Moscow purchased Uglich from Rostov. Dmitrii Donskoi took the Rostov princes into the service of Moscow. One half of the Rostov principality was taken by Moscow in the early 15th century and then Ivan III purchased the remaining half to the territories for Moscow in 1474 after which the town remained of minor political importance.
Polish armies reached Rostov during the intervention in 1605-1618.
Rostov's kremlin with its 11 towers remains in the center of town with the earthen walls, built in 1631-33, around the central area. The kremlin walls are 2 meters thick and 10 to 12 meters high. But the entire complex is phoney as a fortification. It was built strictly for show by the local bishop. The real city fortification is the extensive multi-bastioned earthen rampart built in the 1630's on order of the new Tsar Mikhail Romanov by Dutch engineers in the latest Vauban style. This is certainly one of the earliest examples of the new "trace Italien" style fortification in Russia.
The churches date from the period 1667-1691. There are two kremlin gate churches, The Church of the Resurrection (1670) with five domes and the Church of St. John the Divine (1683). The Church of the Smolensk Mother of God (1693) and Church of the Redeemer are also within the kremlin area, along with various secular buildings and palaces. The Uspenski Cathedral, established in 1214 is outside the kremlin. It was redesigned in the 15th-16th centuries, with a belfry from 1620-82. It houses the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir painted in the 11th century. Nearby is the Church of St. Gregory (1670) which has a stone iconostasis. The Savior in the Market Place Church (1690) and the Church of the Ascension (1566) are also close-by. The Abraham Monastery by Lake Nero is the oldest monastery in Russia (11th century). It contains the Nikolskaya Gate Church (1655-91), the Vvedenskaya Church (1650), and the Epiphany Cathedral (1553). The Spaso-Yakovlevski Monastery, founded in 1389 by St. Jacob of Rostov, is also on the lake bank, to the west. The remaining buildings date from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Church of the Transfiguration on the Sands (1603), the Rozhdestvenski convent, St. Nicholas Church, St. John's Church, St Nicholas in the Field Church, and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin all stand within the old town. Many other churches are in the neighboring region. Go to Table of Contents

Sergiev posad

Sergiev Posad: (population 120,000) is located 71 km north of Moscow at the confluence of the Koshura and Glimitsa rivers. The town was renamed for the revolutionary, Vladimir Zagorsky, and has now been changed back to its former name. The town developed from the settlement that grew around the monastery in 1762. (See Trinity Monastery.)
In Sergiev Posad the Toy Museum is unique in Russia. It has 30,000 toys from throughout the world. Sergiev Posad is the original home of the Matryoshka dolls invented at the end of the 19th century. There are also several interesting churches outside the monastery in Sergiev itself. Go to Table of Contents

Suzdal

Suzdal is located on the river Kamenka 35 km north of Vladimir. It was first mentioned in the chronicles for 1024, but was only a small settlement until the mid-11th century. Prince Vladimir came to Suzdal from Kiev in 990 to establish a missionary bishopric. From 1096 Suzdal was called a town. By then it had a fortified kremlin with earthen walls. Prince Yuriii Dolgoruki made Suzdal his capital in 1125. After he died, Andrei Bogoliubski moved the capital to Vladimir to escape the rebellious boyars. This increased the rivalry between the two towns.
Suzdal was destroyed along with the other main Russian towns in 1238 by the Mongol invaders. By 1328 the rebuilt city was strong enough to lead in the struggle against the rising power of Moscow. Finally Grand-Prince Vasilii annexed it to Moscow. The city remained a religious center. There are still more than 50 churches and secular buildings from the 12th to 17th centuries. These date from before 1238 and after 1500, with nothing in between. At the end of the 16th century a major restoration enhanced the kremlin, town walls, monasteries and other buildings. These were in turn damaged by the invading Poles in the 1600's and by fires.
Near Suzdal in Kideksha village is the church of Boris and Gleb, built by Yuriii Dolgoruki in 1152. It was the first limestone building in the northeast region. The Vasilievski Monastery, founded in early 13th century, is also near the Kideksha Road. Its cathedral and other stone buildings and white walls date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Znamenskaya Church, built in 1749, is also near the road from Vladimir into Suzdal.
The Suzdal kremlin, with its well preserved 11th century earthen walls that were topped by wooden palisades and towers, is adjacent to the Kamenka River. It originally stood 10 meters high with a circuit of 1,400 meters. The river protected three sides and on the eastern side a 8.5 meter deep - 35 meter wide moat defended the fortress. The earthen city wall is also preserved to the east of the kremlin.
The Rozhdestvenski (Nativity) Cathedral, built from 1222-1225, is inside the kremlin. There is also an excellent and extensive historical museum. The cathedral is built on the site of an earlier church erected by Vladimir Monomakh. The nearby belfry was built in 1635. There are other churches in the kremlin and many more just outside. On a hill within the town stands the Rizopolozhesnki convent built in 1207. Its original wooden walls were replaced by stone in the 17th century. The 60 meter high belfry in the wall was built in 1813- 19 to commemorate the victory over Napoleon.
The Alexandrovski Monastery is located on the left bank near the river. It was founded in 1240 by Alexander Nevski. A part of its white walls remain. Inside is the Voznesenskaya Church and belfry built in 1695.
The Spaso-Efimievski Monastery, founded in 1352, is directly on the high bank of the Kamenka. It also contains museums. It was also a fortress with high walls over 1 km long with 12 powerful towers. The Russians defended this fortress from Tatar attack in 1445 until they were overwhelmed. It was in this battle that Grand Prince Vaslii I was captured. He later became friends with his Tatar captors, was blinded by rival Russian claimants to the throne in Moscow, and used extensive Tatar assistance to overcome his enemies. Like most early fortifications in Russia the original walls were earthen with a palisade. The present brick walls dating from the 17th century are 6 meters thick and 8.5 meters high on the northern, eastern, and southern sides, but 7.5 meters high on the western side. The powerful entrance tower of 23 meters height on the southern side protects the Holy Gates. Near it is the Blagoveschenskaya (Annunciation) Gate Church, dating from the 17th century. Inside is the Spaso-Preobrasheniya Cathedral (Transfiguration), constructed in 1594 on the site of an earlier church. Prince Pozharski, the hero of the relief of Moscow in 1612, was buried by this cathedral. There is a prison in this monastery that originally housed prisoners of Catherine II. During World War II it was used to hold Field Marshal von Paulus after his surrender at Stalingrad.
On the opposite bank of the Kamenka is the Pokrovski (Intercession) convent, originally built in 1364. Apart from two 17th century towers in the north wall, its present fortified walls and towers date from the 18th century. This convent was the place for exile of many famous Russian noble ladies, among them the wives of Vasilii III, Ivan IV, and Peter the Great's first wife Evdokia. Inside the walls are the Pokrovski Cathedral built in 1518, the belfry from 1515, and the refectory, the Blagoveschenskaya Gate Church, and the Zachatievskaya Church, all built by Vasilii III in 1518.
Other prominent churches in and around Suzdal include: St Stephen's (1870), Sretenskaya (Purification of the Virgin) Church (17th cent), Kosmo-Damianovskaya (1725), Uspenskaya (17th cent), Nikolskaya (1720-39), Voskresenskaya (1732), Kazanskaya (1739), Vkhodoierusalimskaya (1686), Pyatnitskaya (1772), Predtechenskaya (1720), Krestovaya (1765), Skorbyashenskaya (1750), Tsarevokonstantinovskaya (1707), Lazarevskaya (1667), Smolenskaya (1707), Tikhvinskaya (17th cent), Petropavlovskaya (1694), Nikolskaya (1712), Bogoyavlenskaya (1755), Ilinskaya (1788), Borisoglebskaya (17th cent), Spasskaya (17th cent), Preobrashenskaya (1756), and Voskresenskaya (1766). Go to Table of Contents

Trinity Sergius Lavra (Monastery)

This was the most important monastery in medieval Russia. It was established in 1340 by St. Sergii of Radonezh (1322-92). He is the patron saint of Russia and his feast day is July 18. Each year a very special ceremony well worth observing takes place on this date. He became leader of the religious community there until his death. He also founded other monasteries throughout northern Russia. The Trinity monastery was the center of a deep religions movement that established monasteries throughout Russia, including the famous Solovetsky on an island in the White Sea. The monastery was also associated with the revival of national spirit and the Muscovite victory at Kulikovo. Before the battle, Grand Prince Dmitrii traveled to Holy Trinity Monastery to receive Sergius' blessing and he returned there after the victory. One of the monks sent with Dmitrii by St. Sergius challenged a Tatar leader to single combat prior to the main battle. The monastery was devastated by the Mongols in 1392. After they left, the Abbot Nikon found the body of St. Sergius miraculously preserved in the ruin.
The monastery was burned by Tatar Khan Edigei in 1408 during his campaign against Moscow, but was soon rebuilt under the direction of Abbot Nikon.
The monastery was declared a Lavra in 1744. It became very rich from the donations of many nobles. It owned 100 estates with over 106,000 serfs until it was deprived of this right in 1764. During medieval times the monastery maintained a private army of 20,000 warriors. The fortress walls were constructed during the early reign of Ivan IV between 1540 and 1550. It is strongly fortified with stone walls up to 15 meters thick, two-thirds of a mile long and up to 8 meters height. There are 12 towers, however, none of them is preserved in its original form. The monastery again became a center of Russian spirit during the "Time of Troubles" (1598-1613) when its 1500 defenders withstood a strong Polish attack of 30,000 troops led by Sapieha and Lisovski for 16 months in 1608-10 and again in 1618. In 1612 the relief army led by Kosma Minin and Prince Dmitri Pozharski stopped for blessing here before advancing to eject the Poles from Moscow.
In 1681 and 1689 the young Tsarevich Peter took refuge here during the Strel'tsi uprisings fomented by his half-sister, Sophia.
The Troitsky Cathedral was constructed between 1422 and 1427 in the Suzdal - Vladimir style on the site of the original wooden Church of St. Sergius, built by Abbot Nikon over the saint's grave. The saint's body now lies in a silver sarcophagus given by Ivan IV. The interior frescos date from the 16th century and the iconostasis contains many valuable icons. But the key icon of the Trinity is a copy of the original by Andrei Rublyev now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
The brick Dukhovksya Church was built in 1476-77 by architects from Pskov. The Church of St. Nikon was completed in 1548 and rebuilt in 1623. The Uspenski (Assumption) Cathedral (with the five blue domes covered with gold stars) was completed in 1559 by order of Ivan IV as a commemoration of the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. Outside the west door is the tomb of Tsar Boris Godunov, his wife and two of his children. Over the gate is the Church of St. John the Baptist, built in 1692-99. The frescos in the gateway arches depict the life of St. Sergei. The hospital was built in 1635-37. The baroque style Refectory and St. Sergius Church was built in 1686-92 by Tsars Peter I and Ivan V. Peter also ordered construction of the palace that now houses the Theological College There are several other churches and buildings and the very impressive Belfry (98 meters high) built between 1741 and 1769 from donations provided by empresses Anna, Elizabeth and Catherine II.
There is a Museum of History and Art in the former palace of the Metropolitan Bishop. It contains many rich treasures presented to the monastery from the 14th to 17th centuries. Go to Table of Contents

Vladimir: capital of grand principality

The "golden age" of Vladimir-Suzdal (also known as Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir) was the 12th to 13th centuries. There was nothing left but the name by the time Moscow began its climb to fame, but the name was of such importance that it is well to provide a brief summary of the history. The principality was located between the Oka and Volga Rivers and extended as far north as Beloozero and Ustiug. Slavic settlers entered the region in the 10th century and soon made it the center of the Great Russian nation. The area is indeed the center, lying as it does across the river route from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian Sea via the Oka and Volga Rivers and adjacent to the route from the Baltic to the Black Sea via the Dnieper River. Vladimir town was not founded as a frontier fortress until 1108 by Grand- Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev. The original fortress had an earthen wall with wooden palisade. This brought the area under the overlordship of Kiev. Kievan princes were established in most of the Vladimir-Suzdal towns. By the middle 12th century the Prince of Suzdal, Yuriii Dolgorukii (long arm) (Vladimir's son and heir) reversed the relationship by making the region his center and building many towns and forts, including his kremlin at Moscow in 1147. From this base he conquered Kiev and took the Kievan throne. His son, Andrei Bogoliubskii, moved back to Vladimir and made it his capital. He began a major construction program employing emigrant architects and craftsmen. When Yuriii Dolgorukii died in 1157, Andrei became Grand-Prince of Kiev, but he preferred to keep his capital at Vladimir. In 1169 he marched against his enemies in Kiev and sacked the town before appointing a governor to rule in his name. Andrei was killed by rebellious nobles in 1174 and the throne passed to his brother, Vsyevolod III. During his reign (1176-1212) Vladimir-Suzdal reached its highest point in political power.
The princes of Vladimir-Suzdal constantly fought each other and fought Kiev and Novgorod to increase their control. Meanwhile they campaigned against the Bolgars on the Volga and the Polovtsi on the southern steppes. Ryazan was defeated in 1177 (Battle of Prusovaia Gora) but Novgorod regained its independence in 1207. After Vsyevolod's death in 1212, civil war resumed in earnest to such an extent that the Russian princes were in no condition to oppose the Mongols. The city was besieged and destroyed by the Mongols under Batu Khan on February 8, 1238.
After the Mongol attack Vladimir itself never regained its importance, although the senior title remained that of Grand-Prince of Vladimir. This title was conferred by the Mongol khans on whichever Russian prince they thought most politically loyal and gradually came to the house of Daniel of Moscow. The coronation of grand-princes continued to be held in the city's Uspenski Cathedral until the reign of Ivan III in 1440. Both Alexander Nevski and Dmitri Donskoi were crowned here. The early Russian chronicles were written at the Uspenski as well.
Vladimir (population 350,000) stands on the left bank of the Klyasma river. It is a center for trade and transport and now has numerous industries.
The Zolotye Vorota, Golden Gates, (1158-64), once the ceremonial entryway to the ancient city, is now in the center of town. The name comes from the fact that the giant doors were covered with sheets of gilded copper. The gate formed part of the western defenses. Its arch is a unique example of ancient Russian fortification architecture. Andrei Bogoliubsky consciously copied the design of the Golden Gate at Kiev. The gate was badly damaged during the Mongol siege and not completely restored until the 15th century. During the 18th century the church that typically stands atop a city gate was restored. Reinforcements were added to the sides, when the rest of the old town walls were demolished. Nothing remains of the other four city gates. The gate now forms part of a military history museum.
The Uspenski (Assumption) Cathedral from 1160 remains open for services. It was the most important of Andrei's constructions. He brought master artisans from throughout Europe to make this the supreme architectural monument of 12th century Russia. Originally the outer walls were covered with magnificent frescos and gilded half-columns. The cathedral was damaged in the city fire of 1183. In 1185-89 Prince Vsyevolod III added a two story gallery around three sides of the old walls and enlarged the fourth side. The original walls were opened by arches, leaving their remainder as pillars and the entire building was enclosed by the new structure, for which additional cupolas were also added. The new cathedral was burned by the Mongols seeking to kill the princely family which was hiding in its upper part. In 1408 Andrei Rublyev and Daniel Chornei painted new frescos and iconostasis, but the Tatars again severely damaged the building during their attack in 1411. Until the mid 14th century it was the seat of the Metropolitan Bishop of All Russia. At that time he moved to Moscow. In the 1480's the Italian architect, Aristotle Fioravanti, chose this Uspenski Cathedral as his model for designing the Uspenski in the Moscow Kremlin for Ivan III. A major restoration was initiated in the 18th century and completed in the 19th. The iconostasis was redone in baroque style. Within the 20th century both the original 12th-13th century fresco and those of Rublev from 1360-1430 have been largely restored.
The Dmitrievski Cathedral dates from 1194-97. It originally stood within the courtyard of Prince Vsyevolod III's palace. He built it in honor of his patron saint and new son, Dmitri. It was richly decorated and much of the original art remains. Tsar Nicholas I ordered the cathedral to be restored exactly in 1834, making it an exceptional example of the Russian white-stone construction with carved decorations. What makes it so important architecturally is the high relief stone carving all over the outside depicting human forms, historical and mythical, connected with Vsyevolod's ancestory.
To the east of Dmitrievski Cathedral is the white wall of the Rozhdestvenski Monastery (1191-96). This was the most important monastery in Russia until the 16th century. Alexander Nevski's body was buried here until moved to St. Petersburg on order of Peter I in 1724. Northwest of Vladimir is the remaining part of the Uspenskaya Convent Church, built by Maria Shvarnovo, wife of Vsyevolod III in 1200-02. It was the burial place for the princesses of Vladimir. There are also a number of fine baroque churches in Vladimir.
About 10 km east of Vladimir are the remaining ruins and structures from the palace of Bogolubsky built by Prince Andrei in 1158 as a personal stronghold. Nearby is the Pokrovskaya, Intercession, Church, built in 1165. This is one of the finest examples of 12th century Russian architecture. Go to Table of Contents

Yuryev-Polski

The town was founded at the confluence of the Koloksha and Gza Rivers by Yurii Dolgoruki in 1152 in his new domain, Suzdal and named after himself. The fortress was surrounded by earthen rampart, moat and wooden palisade. Prince Svyatoslav founded a monastery of the Archangel Michael there in the 13th century. He built the greenish yellow and silver Cathedral of St George in 1234 on the foundation of Yurii's original structure of 1152. Although much of it collapsed, it retains some unique carved scenes and individuals in high relief on the walls. But the village didn't prosper. It was handed back and forth between various supporters of the Muscovite rulers, including one Lithuanian Prince, Svidrigailo, and two Tatar princes, Abdul-Latif and Kaibulah. The monastery received a stone wall in 1570 and rebuilt in the last of the 17th century. Its Holy Gate is surmounted by the five-domed Church of St John the Divine, built In 1670. The Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, built in 1790 is well decorated. There is an octagonal bell tower. The Church of Our Lady of the Sign remains from 1625. The remaining monastery buildings are all inside the first earthen rampart, which retains a remarkable height. Go to Table of Contents

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