The Episcopal Chamber (or the Chamber of Facets) is opposite St. Sophia Cathedral of the Novgorod Kremlin. The Chamber was built in 15 century although in its foundation one can find the fragments of the walls of 13 century. Now it is a museum where the most valuable exhibits are stored.
The formation of the Episcopal complex of the Novgorod Kremlin began under the first Bishop of Novgorod, Joachim of Korsun. He got its nickname after the christianization of Rus by Grand Duke Vladimir in 988. He participated in that event, which took place in Korsun. Next year, in 989, Joachim went to Veliky Novgorod, christianized the citizens and became the head of Novgorod episcopal eparchy, one of the most ancient eparchies in Russia. He headed it up to 1030. In 1698 the relics of Joachim were transferred in the Cathedral of St. Sophia and are still kept there.
The construction of the surviving building of the Episcopal Chamber was started by German masters by the order of Archbishop Euthymius II (1429-1458). It was then that the main buildings of the Episcopal complex were erected but only the Chamber survived to our days. In the course of several centuries the Episcopal Chamber was repeatedly rebuilt so it completely lost its original Gothic look.
Of a particular interest is the Gothic Hall. In the period of the greatest power of Novgorod eparchy in 14-15 centuries when the bishops of Novgorod controlled home and foreign policy of the city, were in charge of the treasury, and took the chair in the Council of Lords or Sovet Gospod (the parliament of Novgorod), it was in the Gothic Hall that all meetings were held and all decisions were taken. In 1478 it was there that the order about the annexation of Veliky Novgorod to the Grand Duchy of Moscow by John III was proclaimed.
Today the Episcopal Chamber is occupied by the most interesting museum in Veliky Novgorod. Very valuable items of churchware of Byzantine and Ancient Rus are on display there. Most of them date back to 11-14 centuries. Also, one can see there the cell of Bishop John, as well as the chamber of Archbishop Euthymius II. The other halls of the Episcopal Chamber are occupied by the exhibition «The items of applied arts and jewelry of 17-19 centuries».