Not far from the Kremlin, in the Varvarka Street there are ancient Chambers, a cathedral with gilded cupolas and a part of the battlement of the Kitai-gorod. These buildings of the 15th—18th centuries of various styles and designed for various purposes form a historical and architectural ensemble in the open air.
Chambers that in the 16th century formed part of a large city mansion of the Boyar Nikita Romanovich Yuryev and that were marked in the first plan of Moscow of 1597 stand out among preserved wonderful monuments of Zaryadye.
Later this mansion was owned by his elder son Fyodor Nikitich Romanov, afterwards the Patriarch Filaret; and, as a legend states, Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov, the founder of the tsar dynasty, was born here on the 12th of July, 1596.
After becoming the tsar, Mikhail Fyodorovich granted this mansion to the Znamensky monastery.
In 1674 the Chambers that had been destroyed by fire were dismantled down to the basement and erected again «in height with two premises and a porch», i.e. the current first and the second storeys were built. The building becomes an official house of the monastery.
In the middle of the 19th century by the order of Em¬peror Alexander II restoration works under the supervi¬sion of architect F. F. Richter were conducted, and in 1859 one of the first museums in Moscow — «The House of the Boyars Romanov» — was opened here.
Nowadays a branch of the State Historical Museum — «The Chambers in Zaryadie» — is located in this building which is a rare example of civil architecture of the medieval Rus.
The Chambers are constructed as a majority of Russian houses of that time in the form of the Russian letter «Г» called «glagol»: two houses stand at an angle to each other. The Chambers have a decorative finishing in their exterior part: casings of the windows, eaves, semicolumns in the corners. The design of the ancient house and terems, or rooms does not contradict the tradition. The casings of the windows like casings of other 17th century-buildings indicate the functional purpose of the storeys: the casings of the upper floor with living rooms are of more complex profile compared to those of the lower floor with subsidiary premises.
Inside the building there are small rooms, low arches, thick walls, doors, windows and stoves with rounded upper parts typical for that period. The interior decoration gives an idea of a household life of a rich Moscow family at the end of the 17th century- when against the background of old traditions the influence of new trends caused by major changes in social, economic, political and cultural life of Russia became increasingly noticeable. This combination of national and traditional elements with new and adopted elements was a peculiarity of life in those days.
In the first floor at the men’s half the following interiors are presented: «The Dining-room», «The Boyar Study», «The Elder Son’s Room», «The Library». In the second floor at the ladies’ half the following dwellings can be seen: «The Boyar’s Wife Room», «The Front Room».
Genuine masterpieces of the applied art — tile stoves, silver and enamel painted vessels, facial and ornamented embroidery, women’s decorations, trunks, furniture etc. give a vivid idea of the furnishings of a Russian house, indicate a high level of skills of the workers — ordinary Russian people.
During the latest restoration works at the Chambers (1984—1991) on site research of the monument was conducted, its most ancient parts were identified and discovered, the interior decoration was restored, and archeological excavations that expanded considerably ideas on the mansion, Zaryadye and Moscow of the 12th— 16th centuries took place.
The most interesting and important find is a kitchen oven dated the 16th century. Fragments of earthenware and many other things were found near the oven. For the first time in Moscow visitors can see these and other archeological monuments in a peculiar underground museum at the level of the ancient archeological layer.
There is one more interesting historical object in the yard of the museum. This is a genuine tombstone dated the end of the 17th century when the estate had been occupied by the Znamensky monastery.
Visiting the museum «The Chambers in Zaryadye» you will find yourself among the furnishings typical for a boyar’s life in Russia before the age of Peter I, you will get in touch with Russian medieval history and culture.