About sight: Kolomenskoye

Kolomenskoye may be considered one of the most beautiful landscape parks in Moscow. There are no nobility estates, but its historical and architectural value was marked by UNESCO. The national park museum Kolomenskoye is located in the southern and eastern part of the city in Andropov Avenue, near metro station Kolomenskoye.

Kolomenskoye was founded more than one thousand years ago at the road from Moscow to Kolomna. In the period of feudal disunity it was the patrimony of Moscow princes, who then became Russian tsars, after they were able to unite separated lands of Russia under their power in 14th century.

It was tsar Vasiliy III who built the first significant constructions in Kolomenskoye. In 1528-1532 he built the Ascension Church on the bank of the Moscow River. It was the first steepled church ever built, and UNESCO noted its architectural value including the temple in its World Heritage List. The next tsar John the Terrible liked to spend there his time, even ordering to put the throne at the tall gallery of the church, so that he could sit there and admire the magnificent view of the river valley.

The other surviving church was erected in Kolomenskoye by John the Terrible himself in 1547-1554. It was the Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist built to honour his crowning. There were many legends and mystical stories related to the church. Professor Streletskiy, who carried out archaeological excavations there, proved that the hill that the church stands upon was just a heap of sandy ground. Based on this he suggested that there might be the cave dug out for the famous library of John the Terrible (Liberia) under the hill.

The existence of the library has been historically proven. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Sophia Paleologue, the daughter of the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire Constantine IX, brought the Library of Byzantium Emperors to Moscow as her dowry when she married John III.

This collection of books was called Liberia. It has been collected in the Byzantine Empire in the course of many centuries. It is even suggested that it contained some manuscripts of the burnt down Alexandrian Library.

It is well-known that only few works of ancient authors survived until nowadays, and this library contained complete work collections of many authors. For example, Titus Livius' «History…» had 142 volumes (and all of them were in that library), and only 35 books survived until today. And the same thing is with dozens of other ancient authors. After the death of John the Terrible the library was lost. Unfortunately, excavations at the Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist weren’t finished.

Another church was built by Mikhail, the first tsar of Romanov dynasty, in 1630. He built the Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Kolomenskoye. It was one of the few temples in Moscow that has never been closed in the Soviet period. The ‘State’ Icon of Our Lady is kept at the Altar of the Church.

However, most large-scale building was made in the time of his son Alexei Mikhailovich. During his rule Kolomenskoye was turned into luxurious (by Russian standards) out-of-town tsar's residence. In 1657-67 the Palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich was built in Kolomenskoye. Contemporaries even called it the «eighth world's wonder», although, of course, it was very big exaggeration.

Kolomenskoye Palace was built in traditional Russian style of that period. It was very florid and even gaudy. It was a mix of small domes and turrets, scale-tiled roofs, various carved galleries and windows crowded together. The palace has a peculiar Russian beauty. But as the palace was built of wood, it got much dilapidated already a century later, and by the time that the capital was moved to St. Petersburg became almost unlivable. In 1762 queen Katherine the Great ordered to dismantle this wooden palace, and build on its site a new stone one, but the project wasn’t to be implemented.

In 2010 the Palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich was fully restored as large as life. You can see it at Kolomenskoye Park, though today it is located at a significant distance from its original site. Although it is rather far from the main sights of the park, you can get to it on foot. But you'd better take a train at Kashirskaya metro station. Inside the palace you can see tsar's chambers as well as interesting expositions dedicated to Alexei Mikhailovich.

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