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The Most European House of Moscow
September 27, 2014 12:26


(Source: http://atrey.livejournal.com/2436812.html)

One of the most interesting and ancient monuments of the capital is located on the south side of Varvarka, virtually opposite to the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. Its architecture and biography are equally unique: in XV-XVII centuries the chambers remained the most European house of Moscow, the history of the famous German Quarter (Sloboda) which later became a cradle of St. Petersburg began here. It was here where the idea of building of a new city was born.

The foundation of the building was laid down between XV-XVII centuries, when the manor belonged to the Surozh guest Ivan Bobrishchev. A guest meant a merchant trading with other cities or coming from those. Apparently, there was a small but thriving quarter of Surozh people in the beginning of Varvarka, the construction of the first stone chambers outside the Kremlin also began here.

The basement of the house No. 4 consisting of two white stone vaulted chambers was probably built in the beginning of XVI century by the guest Ivan Bobrishchev. Some people suggest that the construction could involve the Italian Aloisio who built the Church of St. Barbara in the vicinity of the house in 1514. The customers of the church were also the people from Surozh: presumably, experienced and respected men who were called Bober, Vepr and Urvikhvost. In 1556 a new page in the history of the house began: it was transferred to the disposal of the English trading company by the decree of the Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

The British were the first foreigners having an office of their own in Moscow, and the Tsar himself, as people used to say, intended to marry the English Queen Elizabeth the First. An “English trail” can be seen in the architecture of the southern part of the house finished shortly after the turmoil of the early XVII century. From a distance the house looks a lot like a traditional Moscow chamber: whitewashed walls under a plank roof. But if you look closer, you will notice a number of details atypical not only for Moscow, but also for Russia, such as the charging port at the attic level, this feature we can see in many old cities of the Baltic states or the Netherlands.

Later the “most European” house of the ancient Moscow worked for the benefit of education: it hosted the Arithmetic school in the time of Peter the Great and the Library of Foreign Literature in XX century. The house was rebuilt several times, as a result, it became an awkward five-storey house which was signed for demolition by Soviet urban planners without any hesitation, for they planned to build “Rossiya” hotel here.

Fortunately, the restorers managed not only to reveal the ancient basis of the building to be demolished, but also to convince the architects to preserve it (because of this the latter had to change their design and to transfer the access ramp to another place). The saved and restored the monument which became a museum named “English Yard” (a branch of the Museum of Moscow). Now it hosts the exhibition dedicated to the history of English-Russian relations, and its facade is decorated with a board reminding of the fact that this house was actually visited by the Queen of England Elizabeth II in 1994. 




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: German Quarter English Yard Moscow   

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