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Moscow Chambers: Varvarka
December 2, 2014 23:41


It is known that the first stone house in Moscow appeared in 1450. It was built near the Assumption Cathedral by the Metropolitan Jonah for himself. In 20 years the stone chambers were acquired also by the merchant called Tarokan (as the ethnographer Rakhmatulin noted, according to Dahl, cockroach is the first tenant of the house, it brings prosperity).

The construction of other boyar yards in the Kremlin and Kitai-gorod began soon, but the Great Prince was satisfied with wooden mansions until the end of the 15th century. A relatively massive construction of stone chambers in rich urban estates began only in the second half of XVII century.

Varvarka Chamber

The two most ancient houses of Moscow are preserved on the even side of Varvarka. They are not only neighbors, but also age mates, so they are joined under the same number. First, these are the Chambers of the Old English Court, kindly bestowed by Ivan the Terrible to the English trading company at the time when the Tsar was thinking of marrying the English Queen Elizabeth.

But the cellars the beneath the building are more ancient: they were built of white stone by prosperous guests from Surozh, i.e. entrepreneurs who came from the well-known hero-city of Sudak. The layout of these cellars is very close to the above-mentioned chamber of the Treasury Court, which also confirms their origin of the end of XV century.

Further down the street the famous Romanovs’ Chambers are located, which was the family nest of the future royal dynasty. You should also look below the surface: the house is based on the stone cellar with the wide stairs, similar to the previous one, representing the real Russian Middle Ages. 

It's believed that Mikhail Romanov, the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty, was born in this house. Today the mansion houses a lovely museum devoted to the boyar lifestyle of the 16th and 17th centuries. Period clothing, furniture, and household items furnish the rooms, illustrating how the boyars lived. 

The building of the Romanov house was reconstructed several times. In the 17th and 18th century the house was slowly falling into decay. The old "palace" was not comfortable for the ruling tsars. The situation improved only in the 19th century. In  1856 the emperor Alexander II arrived in Moscow for the coronation. When visiting the old family estate he was horrified with its pour condition and ordered to restore it. A few years later it was reconstructed by the architect Rihter and a memorial museum of Romanov family was opened here. 

It's a great luck that the museum survived the Soviet era. No surprise that there were plans to shut it down. Can you imagine a memorial museum of the family, whose "rotten throne was overturned and trampled by the Socialist revolution"? But luckily in 1923 the was reopened  under a new name. It was called "the house of the XVII century nobleman". And the objective was to demonstrate the contrasting life of the noble class and their servants. Only after the Perestroyka the original name of the Romanov's chamber was returned.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Varvarka Chamber Moscow    

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