Libmonster ID: RU-17163
Author(s) of the publication: Olga BAZANOVA

by Olga BAZANOVA, journalist

The village of Kolomenskoye, within Moscow city limits today, is the site of a major historical and architectural Restoration complex now comprising also the Lefortovo, Lyublino and Izmailovo suburban estates. Back in 1923 Pyotr Baranovsky, an eminent restoration artist and architect, founded a Folk Creativity Museum over there, at Kolomenskoye, a country estate of the Russian czars in the 14th through 17th centuries. Kolomenskoye and other suburban estates were granted their present museum-and-preserve status in 2005.

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This is an Elysian place indeed amid the big city hustle and bustle. This is the tranquility of sylvan glades and groves of oak- and maple-trees, of regular lines of apple-trees... of flower gardens, with lush lawns here and there... A place of lovely nature walks paved in stone blocks... All this just beside the rolling river Moskva. A wonderful setting for a park and its "toys" and "playthings" popping out of a magic box, as it were. "Toys", "playthings"–that's what one called churches, tower-chambers, belfries, pavilions and other wonders in the 17th century. Feast your eyes on them, walk in and climb up the steep brick-paved staircases and inspect exhibits, the see-and-touch things. A thrilling travel down the memory lane into the dim and distant past.

Experts say these scenic parts were inhabited as far back as the New Stone Age, i.e. between 5,000 to 3,000 B.C. Quite a few settlements sprung up there closer to the Common Era, in the first millennium B.C.– in particular, the Dyakovo gorodishche (encampment, site of ancient town) giving its name to an old village now not out there and to the archeological culture of Dyakovo.* In the 11th to 12th centuries A.D. this was the site of an old Russian settlement, one of the earliest in what is now Moscow. The village of Kolomenskoye was first mentioned in the will of Prince Ivan Kalita in

* This culture took in the basin of the Upper Volga and the Oka. The local population practiced animal husbandry, land farming, hunting and metal smelting as its main trades.–Ed.

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1339, who bequeathed it to his son Andrei. This village is believed to have been founded a century before, in 1238, when townspeople of Kolomna*, escaping from Mongolian marauding raids, pitched camp and named their new home settlement after their native town.

Late in the 14th century this patrimonial estate belonged to Prince Vladimir of Serpukhov, one of the commanders who fought together with Dmitry Donskoi in the battle of the Kulikovo Plain that ushered in the liberation of Russian principalities from the Mongolian yoke. It was there, in the village of Kolomenskoye, that victorious troops camped out on their way to Moscow. Later on, Grand Duke (Prince) Vassily (Basil) III and his host "stood their ground at Kolomenskoye" on getting tidings about the approach of Crimean Tartars. An architectural ensemble, part of it surviving to this day, was taking body and form then.

The cloud-touching Church of the Ascension of the Lord towering above the steep bank of the Moskva is one of the oldest monuments first mentioned in records anno 1532. It was the tallest structure in our country then, 62 meters high, and the first hipped-roof church building of stone with walls 2.5-3 m thick, built to endure for centuries. In 1530 Czar Basil (Vassily) III, 51 years old then, had at long last a son born to him, the long-awaited heir to the throne. It was Ivan IV, who went down in history as Ivan the Terrible. To commemorate that momentous event, Basil ordered that a church should be erected that, as the chroniclers put it, was dazzling "in its sheer height, beauty and radiance, one that had never been in Rus before."

This architectural masterpiece amazed the French composer Berlioz (1803-1869) who visited Moscow in 1868. He stinted no praise. "Nothing has ever struck me as much as the monument of old Russian architecture has. I have seen and admired a lot, marveled at many things, but time, the old time has spared this monument in the village of Kolomenskoye, a wonder of wonders to me. I have seen the Strasbourg Cathedral being built for centuries, I have stood by il Duomo in Milano, but I have not found anything but stucco décor over there. I shuddered, I was awe-struck by consummate beauty. It was a mystic stillness. A harmony of beauty in its perfect forms. I saw a novel kind of architecture. I saw a skyward élan, and I stood flabbergasted for quite some time..." Reading these emotional lines, you cannot help but recall the dictum of Johann Wolfgang Goethe about architecture being erstarrte Musik (congealed music).

The summertime Ascension Church, entered by UNESCO in the World Heritage List** in 1994, is open to guests only during the warm season. But there is a standing exhibition in the semibasement displaying pieces of white stone parts recovered during excavations. The St. George Belfry and the Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist rising nearby also date from the 16th century. The St. John Church looks like the Church of the Protecting Veil (or St. Basil Cathedral) put up in Red Square between 1555 and 1560, probably by the selfsame master builders Barma and Postnik of Pskov.

The next 17th century saw a period of efflorescence for Kolomenskoye. In 1640, that is under Mikhail Feodorovich, the first czar of the Romanov Dynasty, a

See: O. Bazanova, "Favorite Town of Dmitry Donskoi", Science in Russia, No. 4.2010.–Ed.

** See: N. Maxakovsky, "Russia in UNESCO World Heritage", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2006.–Ed.

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"triple church cum porch and refectory" was erected; then came the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God put up in 1645 to 1649 (now consecrated again) and later joined to the palatial chambers by a roofed-in passage. In summertime when the monarch came to his stately home for rest, this church served as a house prayerhouse supplied with a storeroom for czarist coffers and valuables. The Standpipe Water Tower, still there, was Russia's first; later on, in 1675, Bogdan Pugin equipped it with a water-pumping machine (the eastern wing of this tower houses a pool of white stone with a deep well and piping).

Today this remarkable structure is home to a standing exhibition on water management and supply in the 16th through 19th centuries. At first such waterworks doubled as strongholds and looked like real fortresses, thus concealing from the enemy their real vital function. The pumping machine fed life-giving water to a pool wherefrom it flowed to users. An operating mock-up model shows how this system worked.

One can also see designs of similar waterworks of the 17th century, in particular that of the first water-supply system of the Moscow Kremlin, and images of the fountains of Izmailovo and Lefortovo. Put on display are also drawings and sketches of waterworks of the 19th and early 20th centuries, all that supplemented with pictorial cards and photographs of the early 20th century, some of them from the stocks of the State Museum of History* and the State Archives of Ancient Acts. One can see things meant for instrumental uses in water supply and consumption as well.

The next czar, the "most pacific" Alexei Mikhailo-vich, was particularly fond of his patrimonial estate at Kolomenskoye, he held official ceremonies and receptions there for boyar nobles, church hierarchs, and overseas guests. Falconry was his great pastime and hobby. He wished to turn Kolomenskoye into a stately residence and erect a palace without peer. By traditi-

See: V. Yegorov, "Treasure-House of Russian History", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2004.–Ed.

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on it was built of wooden parts combining into many interconnected chambers of different size. Employed in this grand undertaking was a team of master builders under the supervision of Captain Semen Petrov and Ivan Mikhailov in charge of a carpenters' gang. The famed Russian icon-painter Simon Ushakov and Bogdan Saltanov hailing from Persia took care of the décor.

Foreign guests admired the palatial compound at Kolomenskoye, calling it an Eighth Wonder of the World. Indeed, it was the acme of Russian wooden architecture. The palace proper comprised the czar's chambers, each 2 to 4 stories high, those of his sons and of his czarina and daughters, with the men's and women's chambers set apart. In all, the palace had 270 rooms with a floorspace of 7.2 thousand sq. meters, and as many as 3,000 windows. Its décor was fascinating both inside and outside with a parade of architectural frills, exquisite jambs and lintels, and all. The siding boards imitated stone, a first in the Russian home building craft.

The monarch's son Peter–the future czar and emperor of all Russia known as Peter the Great–spent his childhood years over there, at Kolomenskoye. Ascending to the throne, however, he seldom visited his patrimonial estate that his father liked so much. If he did, it was only on solemn occasions as he was coming back in a triumphant march to Moscow after the Azov campaign* of 1696, and upon his victory at Poltava** during the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 against Sweden and other enemies. Yet the palace fell into decay during the first half of the 18th century–time took its toll. Decades later, in 1762, the newly enthroned empress

* The Azov campaign-an operation of the Russian army and fleet with the aim of capturing the Turkish fortress of Azov that locked an outlet to the Azov Sea.–Ed.

** See: V. Artamonov, "If Only Russia Lived in Glory and Welfare...", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2009.–Ed.

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Catherine the Great visited Kolomenskoye and ordered to pull down the dilapidated royal chambers. Since detailed drawings of it were made before the event, it became possible to rebuild this handiwork of oldtime Russian masters in our days on the grounds of the Restoration complex, at some distance though, in the village of Dyakovo: it was not advisable to interfere with the park ensemble on the former site.

The newly restored palace was erected between the years 2007 and 2010: though built of a solid ferroconcrete framework, its exterior is of wood and thus makes an exact copy of the old palace.

Guests to the Kolomenskoye Restoration travel back in time, over to the 17th century, through the Anterior, or Palatial Gate put up in 1672 and 1672 instead of the old one of carved oak. Another standout nearby is of four tiers surmounted by a marquee topped by double-headed eagle; it has two arches with an Organ Chamber above and four lions sitting on either side below. Rising up, they roared and rolled their eyes to salute guests.

The four wooden beasts were jolted alive by an intricate clockwork mechanism and stream of air that made them bellow. Towering above is a belfry-and-clock, the handiwork of master Pyotr Vysotsky, an "alien".

Rising next to the entrance gate are chambers set aside for wardens and caretakers. Today they house a standing exposition on the history of Kolomenskoye. Its exhibits include archeological relics (stone arrowheads, pieces of clay vessels, ivory, and the like) to show that Kolomenskoye is one of the most ancient habitation sites in Moscow.

Displayed in the next part of this exhibition are decorated tiles, icons and the battle gear of Slav warriors of the 12th to 16th centuries. Shown here are also portraits of Czar Alexei Mikhailovich and his spouse, Nataliya Kirillovna; there are old books, including Moscow Apostle that saw light on March 1, 1564, at the print-shop of Ivan Feodorov and Pyotr Mstislavets-the first Russian publication dated exactly.

The Organ Chamber exhibits a unique collection of tower clocks of the 17th through 19th centuries, among them the oldest one made in 1539. The Wardens Chambers show a replica of Moscow office interiors of the latter half of the 17th century–long tables of green cloth and a small desk for the czar's private use, just in case the sovereign felt like doing a bit of paperwork.

The exhibits of the Wardens Chambers take us back to the 18th and 19th centuries. We can see portraits of the Russian czars Peter I, Catherine II and Alexander I, courtiers' dresses of both sexes, church utensils and pieces of décor from the churches of Kolomenskoye and its environs. We can also have a look at household utensils of local peasants, photographs of their izba homes of the 1880s and 1890s. Kept in the basement are white-stone bits of the architectural décor of the 17th and 18th centuries, including those from churches razed in the 1920s and 1930s elsewhere in Moscow, all that collected by Pyotr Baranovsky, the first director of the Restoration.

One of the halls of the Palatial Gate complex houses a display of church art with icons of the 16th to 19th centuries as a centerpiece. Coming from Baranovsky's collectables, these icons are adorned with images of towns and monasteries. Precious paraphernalia used in the officiation of divine services are there as well–gilded and glazed crosses, holy books in silver binding, cas-

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socks and other robes in gold embroidery, luxurious patterned fabrics, wooden sculptures, pieces of iconostases, and lots of other things.

Straight as the crow flies, a linden alley takes us from the Anterior Gate to the Western, or Rear Gate with house-keeping premises at close hand or, rather, what still remains there (archeologists have opened the foundations of Bread and Victuals Yards). Close by is Peter I's summer cottage, or a solar-the only memorial museum in Moscow dedicated to the reformist czar; it houses a small exhibition on the birth of the Russian Navy.

This log cabin was built in 1702 on the St. Mark Island in the mouth of the Northern Dvina by Russian and Dutch shipwrights for Peter I keeping an eye on the construction of the Novaya Dvina fortress. In 1934 this cabin was moved to Kolomenskoye and now is part of the Restoration featuring the story of wooden architecture in Russia. Again and again, we should give credit to Pyotr Baranovsky who stinted no effort in retrieving our national heritage. Still back in the 1920s he founded the country's first exhibition of this kind. Other holies were brought in, like the Holy Gate of the St. Nicholas Monastery in the Far North (dedicated in 1693) and the tower of the Bratsk Ostrog (gaol) from the Angara River in eastern Siberia. In time many other monuments of fortification architecture were brought here as well.

Kolomenskoye is also a park and landscape complex of the 17th century with as many as six orchards. Taking an area of almost 650 acres, it provided residents with many fruits and berries. One cultivated a variety of exotic shrubs and trees like walnuts, for example. Some of the trees, like 400 to 500-year-old English oaks (Quercus robur) are still there. In between the Stately Court and the extinct village of Dyakovo lies a scenic ravine with wellsprings and two monumental boulders, the Maiden's Stone and Steed's Head, the objects of veneration in days of yore.

Folk carnivals–on Christmas-tide, Shrove-tide, Easter and Whitsunday as well as Our Savior Apple and Mead feasts–take place regularly. Memorial shows devoted to Peter I and other men who have made history are staged every now and then. Chamber music and opera concerts and performances of church choirs are held in the Palace Pavilion (architect Yevgraf Tyurin, 1825). Quite recently the Kolomenskoye Restoration got a welcome addi-tion-an open-air exhibition of stables, a smithery, a water mill and a bee garden. Plans are underway to restore the village of Kolomenskoye the way it was–with peasant homes and yards where new standing exhibits will be opened.


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