Kolomenskoye

KOLOMENSKOYE is one of the most ancient places of human habitation within modernMoscow. Archaeological items discovered in its vicinity witness Stone Age (V-III millennium B.C.) settlements once existing here. In old times thevillage ofKolomenskoye nearMoscow came to be directly involved into the historical events known as the Time of Troubles. In1923, a small museum was founded at the historically shaped ensemble of Russian Grand Princes and Tsars’ country estate; this museum was to grow up overtime into a complex Kolomenskoye art and architectural museum-reserve with a total area of254.6 hectares. The unique landscape of Kolomenskoye bears traces of many generations’ life and activities.

Not far from the centre of Kolomenskoye estate, in Dyakovo, the most ancient settlement within modernMoscowappeared 2.5 thousand years ago on a roundish flap-top hill. This site known as Dyakovo Settlement gave its name to Dyakovo archaeological culture. Besides, archaeologists have recently discovered a settlement dated by early Middle Ages (VIII – X centuries AD) in the central part of Kolomenskoye as well as a unique Dyakovo-poyma settlement, which represents an ancient Russian village dated by XI-XII centuries, at the foot of Dyakovo Hill.

Kolomenskoye was first mentioned in written sources of the XIV century, namely in the Testaments of Moscow Grand Prince Ivan Kalita (dated by 1336 and 1339). According to several sources, Kolomenskoye was the venue of many events related to the history of the Russian state. It was here that the army of Prince Dmitry Donskoy and the one of Peter the Great stopped before the Battle of Kulikovo (1380) and the Battle of Poltava (1709) respectively, and Moscow Grand Princes mustered troops for military campaigns. Beginning from the XV century, Kolomenskoye was a summer country residence ofMoscowrulers. In the XVI and the XVII century, a unique architectural ensemble of Kolomenskoye imbued with the idea of a gala Tsars’ residence of great artistic and historical value was shaping.

On the high bank ofMoskvaRiverone can see the Church of the Ascension built in 1532. It is one of the first tent-roof stone churches in Old Russia. In the XVI and XVII centuries, this church, small in interior dimensions, served as a summer family chapel of the Russian Tsars. In 1994, the church was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List altogether with Moscow Kremlin and theRed Square. Nowadays, according to an agreement with the Patriarchy, the church is jointly used by the museum and the patriarchal metochion that was founded in1994. In1917, the great miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Sovereign was uncovered on the ground floor of the church.

Another three architectural landmarks are situated in the immediate vicinity of the Church of the Ascension. These are St. George theVictoriousBellTower(XVI c.), Water Tower (XVII c.) and a “Hunting Pavillion” (built in 1825 by architect Eugraph Tyurin). Dyakovo can boast of a magnificent architectural site – theChurchofBeheadingofSt. Johnthe Forerunner. Built in the middle of the XVI century, this church served as a prototype for St. Basil (Intercession) Cathedral on theRed Squareand was supposedly constructed by the same architects.

The historical nucleus of Kolomenskoye, the Tsar’s Courtyard, was encompassed by a wall, partly stone and partly wooden, with two passage gates, namely the Front (Palace) Gate, the gala entrance to the Tsar’s estate, and the Saviour (Back) Gate.

The complex adjoining the Front Gate comprises the Prikazniye Chambers, or the Chancellery, the Colonel’s Chambers where chiefs of regiments that guarded the palace were housed, Fryazhsky (Dry) Cellar and a two-storeyed Sitny Yard where beverages for the Tsar’s table were prepared. The Front Gate and Sitny Yard complexes are wholly given to the museum expositions.

In the XVII century, an “eighth wonder of the world”, a unique palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich that incorporated the best achievements in the wooden architecture of the time was erected in Kolomenskoye.

Beginning from 1645, the destiny of the Church of Our Lady of Kazan that was being built at the time was inextricably connected with the name of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich (who reigned from 1645 to 1676). The Tsar loved the estate and came here for rest every summer for thirty years running. To mark the birth of the Tsar’s successor, the second side altar consecrated in the name of St. Demetrius ofThessalonikiwas

built on approximately in 1649. This side altar made the architectural composition of the church integrate.

Eventually the Church of Our Lady of Kazan assumed the functions of the family chapel; traditionally, the Tsar’s treasury and the most valuable belongings that were brought to Kolomenskoye for the summer in royal carts were kept there. After the construction of the church was completed, the interiors were painted and richly decorated with fabrics and carpets.

At first the young Tsar used Kolomenskoye as a ground for falconry, but gradually, by the end of his reign (1676) the estate developed into a luxurious country residence. A covered passage connected the palace with the new stone church of Our Lady of Kazan built in 1651 – 1671. Nowadays, the church is functional.

After the complete dismantling of the wooden palace in the XVIII century, a new four-storeyed palace was erected on the MoskvaRiverbank, near the Church of the Ascension. In that palace, Empress Catherine II wrote her famous Instruction treatise. Thepalace ofEmpress Catherine was demolished during the French invasion. In1825, a still new Empire style palace was built on its foundation at the order of Emperor Alexander I. That palace has neither survived to our days.

In the 1920s, Peter Baranovsky, an excellent Russian architect, started to form the first open-air museum of wooden architecture inRussia. At various times, wooden architecture monuments dating back to XVII and

XVIII centuries were transferred to Kolomenskoye and most of them were located in the ancientAscensionGarden. Thus, wooden constructions brought from different regions of Russia, namely the Sacred Gate from Nikolo-Korelsky Monastery on the White Sea shore (1693), Bratsk Tower dated by mid-XVII century that comes from the region now known as Bratsk hydro-electric power station area (East Siberia) and a memorial House of Peter I built in1702 inArchangelsk (North Russia), could be found in one place. The first construction installed in Kolomenskoye, at the Front Gate, was a household structure from the XVIII centuryPreobrazhenskyPalace. It was conventionally entitled the Mead Brewery. The interior exposition at the House of Peter I reproduces the XVIII century travelling chambers of the Tsar.

Korelsky Monastery, theTowerofBratsk Stockaded Fortand theTowerofSumskoye Stockaded Fort.The latter had been stored dismantled at the depository of the museum reserve for 80 years.In 2008, the restoration of the wooden architecture monuments was finished and a new complexMuseumofWooden Architecturespread out in the open air. The complex includes the Passage Tower of Nikolo-

In April1990, adecision ref. 666 of the Moscow City Council Executive Board started the work on reconstruction and development of the museum reserve. The architectural ensemble and the historic landscape of the Tsar’s estate are being restored, new expositions are created and archaeological research is carried out. In 2004, the museumification of the Food Yard was completed.

Kolomenskoye represents a complex site of Russian history and architecture. It comprises 17 architectural monuments, including 12 that make the surviving part of the Tsar’s estate of XVI – XIX centuries as well as

4 wooden constructions that were brought from different regions ofRussia. For the last few years, an architectural ethnographic complex has been rapidly shaping in Kolomenskoye. A working stable and smithy, a Bee-keeper’s Farm with an apiary and a Water Mill have appeared. It is planned to reconstruct part of the historical built-up environment of Kolomenskoye village that was lost at the end of the1970s and arrange in the reconstructed households new ethnographic exhibitions and expositions, including interactive ones. Interactivity, understood as involvement of the visitor into the peasant’s life and his immersion into the history, is one of the museum’s priorities.

Since 2003, an all-inclusive program of the museum’s development adopted by the Moscow City Government has been implemented in Kolomenskoye and the adjoining territories. Within this program, the Church of the Ascension, which is included into the UNESCO list of historical and cultural heritage, has been restored as well as the Front Gate complex, Palace Pavillion of 1825 and St. George the Victorious Bell Tower and Church. The cultural tourist programs designed by the museum’s guided tours division serve the same purpose. These programs imply not only a tour around the historical landmark, but the visitors’ participation in calendar or family holidays, sometimes in imitative court ceremonies, as well as in mass events that have been regularly organized in Kolomenskoye for more than 10 years.
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