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Kolomenskoe, Church of the Ascension.The history of Kolomenskoye is intertwined with the history of the Russian monarchy.

It was a home for Peter the Great during his early years. It was the scene of festivities marking the coronations of Catherine I, Peter II and Empresses Anna and Elizabeth. Peter II often hunted in the woods nearby, and in the late 18th century Catherine the Great used to come here with her grandchildren, including the future Emperor Alexander I.

olomenskoe stands high on the steep banks of the Moscow River. It is located about 10 kilometers southeast of the Kremlin in Moscow, and covers an area of about 390 hectares of ancient forest land, which is now a conservation zone and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

There are a remarkable alley of ancient oaks, the oldest in Moscow, which are as old as 400 to 600 years of age. Some were planted by Peter I when he was young.

Folklore festival in Kolomenskoye (winter, 1996)Today the entire estate is open to visitors and features some fascinating architecture, vintage wooden structures built by many of the country's Tsars, one of the most beautiful churches and examples of Russian tent-roofed architecture in the country, and is a beautiful site for a spot of summer sunbathing or a snowy walk in the winter. The Kolomenskoye Estate also hosts a number of festivals and traditional Russian religious celebrations every year.

Kolomenskoe Village. Kolomenskoe Village.

Palace in Kolomenskoe, 17th century.The history of Kolomenskoe begins in the 13th century when a settlement was founded there by refugees from Kolomna, fleeing from Tartar-Mongol invaders led by Batu Khan. During the 15th century, Kolomenskoe was chosen as the site of a royal summer retreat, where Ivan the Terrible stayed during his childhood and later with his first wife, Anastasia.

Church of the Ascension. The earliest building to survive today, is the Church of the Ascension. It was built in 1532 by the Moscow Grand Prince Vasili III in order to give thanks at the birth of his son and heir to the throne, Ivan, who later became Ivan IV "The Terrible". The church represents a new stage in Russian architecture. It is the first tent-roofed church to be built in stone. It also doesn't follow the traditional cruciform domed style.

The church's remarkable tent-roof rises to an impressive 70 meters. The church's exterior is ringed by an elevated terrace reached by three staircases, on the river-facing side of which stands the remains of a stone throne, where Ivan the Terrible used to sit and contemplate the view. The interior is very light but cramped, due to the thickness of the church's walls, and features a gallery above the main entrance from which the Tsar and his family would watch services.

The Church of the Ascension Kolomenskoe, Church of the Ascension.

Kolomenskoe. Bell-tower of St.George.The circular bell-tower of St.George was built next to the Church of the Ascension by an unknown architect in the first half of the 16th century.

Ivan IV carried on the tradition of building at Kolomenskoe, which also served as one of his residences. He was responsible for the building of the Church of St. John the Baptist, his patron Saint in the nearby ancient village of Dyakovo. The exact date of the building of the church is unknown. Some studies connect the laying of the foundation with Ivan's coronation in 1547, while connect it with the birth of his son, Tsarevich Ivan, in 1554.

The Church of John the Baptist consists of an octagonal central core with a height of 34.5 meters, surrounded by five chapels, one a picturesque tower with a height of 17 meters. The church has a bell of the Pskov type, and has many of the traits of Russian architecture of the sixteenth century in the wealth and elegance of it's decorative detail.

Colomwnskoe, the Church of St. John the Baptist of Dyakovo.
Colomwnskoe, the Church of St. John the Baptist of Dyakovo.

Kolomenskoe. The Front Gate and the church.

Kolomenskoe. The Front Gate.The Front Gate served as the entrance to the Tsar's Palace during the seventeenth century.It was constructed at the time when baroque tendencies appeared in Russian art.

The gates consist of four stories with a tent-roofed bell tower on top. The lower story is divided into two arches, the wider for horse traffic, the narrower for foot travelers. Over the arches was a chamber with special mechanisms which were found in the seventeenth century. They were joined beneath the gates with sculptures of lions which greeted guests by turning their eyes, lifting a paw, and emmitting a roar.

Kolomenskoe. The Front Gate.In memory of the liberation of Moscow from the Polish usurpation Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich ordered a stone five-domed church to be built and named for the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. The exact date of the building of the church is not known, but it was probably built between 1644 and the 1670s.

Kolomenskoe. Kazan Cathedral.The domes of the church, whose architecture is typical of the seventeenth century, are blue with gold stars. It was the domestic church of the Tsars and was connected at a later date with a huge wooden palace, by a covered crossway on the level of the second story.

The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan
The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan (or Kazan Cathedral ) built has survived to the present day, and is typical of mid-17th century Russian architecture.

The Icon of of Our Lady of KazanThe Icon of of Our Lady of Kazan miraculously appeared in Kolomenskoe on the second of March 1917, on the day of the abdication of the throne of the emperor Nikolai II, and she is now housed in a side chapel of the church.

Services were stopped at The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan until 1941-1942, but have resumed.

The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.
The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.

Kolomenskoe. Scale model of Mikhail palace.In 1666 or 1667, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich ordered the construction of a fantastic wooden summer palace in Kolomenskoe, which was dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world".

Regarded as a marvel of Russian carpentry, Mikhail's palace was constructed without using saws, nails or hooks. Only axes were used.

Palace had 250 rooms and 3,000 mica windows in a gigantic maze of corridors, wings and private quarters. Each member of the Imperial family had their own collection of rooms, which were ornately decorated with intricately carved wooden trims and topped by bulbous domes and tent-roofed towers covered with multicolored wooden tiles and gilt edging.

Kolomenskoe Village.Although Peter I spent time during his childhood here. Moscow had unhappy memories for him, and after he moved the capital to St. Petersburg, the palace fell into a state of disrepair and was consequently destroyed at the orders of Catherine later that century. Visitors can get an impression of the craftsmanship and skill involved in the construction of the palace by looking at a small scale model of it, constructed in 1867 by the carpenter D. Smirnov, and from old engravings on display in the Kolomenskoe grounds.

To see and learn more about Kolomenskoe please visit the official site of the museum of Kolomenskoe.

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