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Kolomenskoye Museum Preserve
This large preserve is situated about ten kilometers (six miles) southeast of Moscow on the banks of the Moskva River , at 39 Andropova Street. It is well worth taking a day’s excursion to the outer suburbs for a visit. Kolomenskoye was once the country estate of numerous Russian princes and czars, including Ivan the Terrible nad Peter the Great. The name of the area dates from the 13th century, when villagers fleeing Mongol attacks on the town of Kolomna settled here. Some of the oldest trees in Moscow can be found in the preserve, many over 400 years old.
The area is now a four – square – kilometer open – air museum of 16th – and – 17th – century architecture. Visitors enter the park through the whitewashed Savior Gate, which stands on the grounds that were once Czar Alexei’s orchards. The czar (father of Peter the Great) was passionate about hunting, and also helped train falcons; more than 300 birds of prey and 100,000 doves were said to have been raised on his estate. Between 1666 and 1667, workers for Alexei constructed a large wooden palace known as the Jewel – Box, complete with 250 rooms, 3,000 windows of glittering mica, and elaborate kokoshniki gables.
The czar’s throne was flanked with a pair of large gilded lions who could roar and roll their eyes with a pull on a hidden mechanism. In 1768, Catherine the Great had the palace torn down and a new one built near the Ascension Church. (A model replica of Czar Alexei’s throne room is on display in the museum). Alexei’s royal palace was joined by a passageway to the 17th – century baroque – style Church of the Kazan Virgin; it stands on the left as you walk through the gates. A copy of the famous icon the Virgin of Kazan is located in the main iconostasis. (After the Revolution the original icon disappeared). Today the church is a busy place of worship, and services are held daily.
On the other side of the complex, rising high on the banks of the river stands the tent – shaped and elaborately decorated Ascension Church. The brick structure was built in 1532 to celebrate the birth of Vasily III`s first son, Ivan the Terrible. The building was also the highest structure in all of Moscow at 60 meters (197 feet) and served as a watchtower. It was the first church to reproduce the design of wooden churches in Brick and it is believed to be forerunner to St. Basil’s Cathedral, built a quarter of a century later. From an upper window Ivan the Terrible could observe his soldiers fighting the invading Mongols. Alongside stands the 16th – century St. George Bell Tower, all that remains of the Church of St. George the Victorious. Other structures of interest are the Dyakovskaya Church, the water tower (which brought water up from the river), a Siberian watch tower (1631) and a gatehouse whose clock has been working since the time of Peter the Great. A museum housing religious and royal artifacts is situated within the eastern Palace Gatehouse, built in 1673, and its adjoining building; it was founded in 1923. Of particular interest is the replica of Czar Alexei’s wooden palace, made by the carver Smirnov in the 19th century. Follow the wooden steps through the forest to the fived – domed Church of St. John the Baptist, built in 1529. Moscow St. Basil` Cathedral is said to be modeled on this.
From the 1930s to 1950s, monuments of Russian architecture were brought to the park from different regions of the country. These buildings, located in the north – western side of the park, in the older palace area, now exhibit 16th – to 19th century Russian applied and decorative art, including collections of paintings, ceramics, woodcarvings and clock. The only building opened here is Peter the Great`s cabin. He lived in this six – room cottage in 1702, while supervising the building of his navy in Arkhangelsk. It is a favorite area for picnics, shaded by oaks, elms and poplars; one of the ancient oak trees is thought to date back to the 14th century, during the rule of Ivan Kalita. Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein also shot some of the famous scenes of his film Ivan the Terrible here at Kolomeskoye. Each year a festival of Sacred Music takes place in the Ascension Church and, around the last Sunday in May, there is a parade to celebrate Peter the Great`s birthday.