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Architecture of the 17th Century
July 28, 2014 20:47

Architecture was going through transformative changes in the 17th century. Though wood remained the main construction material, stone (brick) building was introduced more and more into Russian architecture. New types of construction materials began to be applied, such as multi-color tiles, profile bricks, and white stone details. Lots of buildings were constructed by masters of the Masonry Board established in the late 16th century.

One of the outstanding works of wooden architecture was the imperial palace built in the Kolomenskoye Estate near Moscow in 1667-1678. It was an entire little town with turrets, scaled roofs, ground floor galleries, and porches with wreathed columns. Various mansions, each of them built in individual manner, were connected with flyovers and totaled 270 rooms with 3000 windows. The contemporaries referred to it as “the 8th Wonder of the World”.
Tent-shaped buildings prevailed in wooden church architecture. However, level churches were also built. As a whole, wooden architecture came under the influence of stone architecture.
Despite an attempt of Patriarch Nikon to forbid construction of stone tent-shaped churches this type became prevailing in church architecture. The Nativity Church in Putinki, the Trinity Church in Nikitniki, the Alekseevsky Monastery in Uglich, the Assumption Church, Zosimus and Sabbatius Church in the Trinity-Sergius Monastery were built in Moscow, as well as churches were constructed in Vyazma, Murom and Ustyug. All of them were notable for rich architectural decoration and fine ornamentation.
At the same time, under the influence of Patriarch Nikon a number of monumental constructions were made in traditional style of the previous periods in the middle and the second half of the 17th century. They were aimed at showing the power of church. Such is the majestic Resurrection Cathedral built in the Moscow New Jerusalem Monastery following the model of Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. In the 1670s-80s the Rostov Kremlin, an ensemble of constructions of the Rostov metropolitan courtyard was built. The housing estate was combined with the church there. All the buildings were surrounded with massive defense walls with towers.
Those were not only the authorities but also parishioners, i.e. suburbs and settlement dwellers, who ordered churches to be built. Hence the notion of the suburban architecture. Characteristic of that is church architecture in Yaroslavl, one of the largest craft and trade centers. The examples of it are the churches of Elijah the Prophet, Johann Zlatoust, and the grand St. John the Baptist Church in Tolchkov. Church buildings in other old Russian towns, such as Kostroma, Romanov-Borisoglebsk, etc. are also remarkable.
In the late 17th century church architecture had a new style, Naryshkin (aka Moscow) baroque developed. Its most considerable monument is the Holy Protection Church in Fili, Moscow. It excels in grace, perfect proportions, decorative columns with caps, and its red and white colours.
Civil engineering was also considerably developing along with church architecture in the 17th century. The Moscow Kremlin was subject to essential reconstruction. The Kremlin towers were built on, the Spasskaya Tower was built in its present-day look, thus creating a front gate into the Kremlin. Hipped roofs on all the towers were replaced with tent-shaped tops. It all gave a new look to the Moscow Kremlin: it was turned from a defensive fortress into a solemn ensemble.
However, the interior design of the Kremlin was also transformed. The Teremnoy Palace (1635-1636) was an outstanding example of secular architecture. It was a three-storeyed building set on high basements and topped with high tower chambers. The building was ornated with a gold roof, two belts of tile eaves, and stone carving. Its gold porch had rich finery. Wooden architecture had direct impact on the type of finishing. The Patriarchal Chambers with the Krestovy Hall and the building of the Territorial Board were built in a different style in the same place. 


The monumental Sukharev Tower constructed by Mikhail Choglokov became an example of the quest for new design of public buildings. It had two storeys over the massive basement and was crowned with a tower bearing the State Emblem on its top. A broad grand staircase led to the second storey. 
Industrial business architecture was further developed in the 17th century. Thus, shopping arcades were built in Kitai Gorod, Moscow and in Arkhangelsk. The Arkhangelsk Gostiny Dvor (i.e. shopping arcade) stretched 400 m long on the bank of Northern Dvina and was surrounded with tall stone walls with arming towers. It included more than two hundred shopping premises.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Culture Russian History Russian Architecture   

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