Patriarch’s Palace & the church of the twelve apostles

A large three-storey building stands at the northern side of the Cathedral Square ensemble. This is the Patriarch’s Palace, one of the best and rarest monuments of civil construction from the mid-17th century Moscow. The Patriarch’s Palace was built by Russian architects in 1653-1655 for the Patriarch Nikon. The palace’s first floor was used for common purposes and housing of Church Boards. The private Patriarch’s chambers were on the 3rd floor. The second floor held ceremonial rooms, the main of which is the Chamber of the Cross.

The Chamber of the Cross is the ceremonial chamber of the Patriarch Nikon of 280 square metres in an area covered with a single, unsupported cloistered vault, a novelty of Russian architecture of the time. The Chamber held meetings of the Holy Council, in honour of the Tsar and foreign guests.

The Twelve Disciples Church was the personal family church of the Russian Patriarchs. The church’s ancient iconostasis was not preserved, however. The new iconostasis was brought to the church from the Ascension Cathedral in 1929. This iconostasis dates back to the 17th-early 18th centuries. The passage arch over the Twelve Disciples Church was laid down in 1673. At the very end of the 17th century the building got the fourth floor which has not been preserved to our days except for the so-called Petrovskaya Chamber.

Following the abolition of the Patriarchate in 1721 and establishment of the Holy Synod, the Palace housed the Synod’s Moscow office. During the revolution of 1917 the complex was heavily bombed by Bolshevik forces and much of the original features were lost. In 1918 the Patriarch’s Palace was handed over to the museum as the rarest architectural monument of the 17th century. After a lengthy restoration process, a close-to-original look of the 17th century was returned to the Palace building. The first permanent exhibition was opened on the Patriarch’s Palace’s second floor in 1967.

Various objects of art from the 17th century are presented in the museum’s show-cases including copperware and stannary made by Russian and west-European craftsmen, Russian national traditional-shaped utensils made of precious metals, jewellery and clocks from the 17th century. There are also tools used during royal hunting. The collection of Russian 17th century artistic embroiders is show-cased in the Patriarch’s Palace’s Refectory. The rooms of the Twelve Disciples Church are used today as an exhibition area where 17th century icons are demonstrated, most of which were made in the Kremlin’s workshops or decorated the Kremlin’s cathedrals. Travel to Moscow