Chambers of the Romanov Boyars

Moscow, Russia | C.1499

Photo Credit: Alexey Puzynya

Built at the end of the 15th century, the Chambers of the Romanov Boyars is a former estate and one of the oldest museums in Moscow. Situated near the Red Square in the city’s ancient Zaryadye district, the Chambers were once owned by Nikita Romanovich Zakharjin-Yuriev, a famous boyar and the grandfather of Mikhail Romanov, the first ruler of the Romanov Dynasty.

In medieval Russia, boyars were members of the aristocracy. Often wealthy landowners, they formed a tight-knit elite class and were often involved with advising the grand prince, later known as the tsar. In the 16th century, one of the wealthiest boyars, Nikita Romanovich, received a wedding gift of a lavish estate near the Kremlin. This estate would later become the Chambers.

Romanovich was known as the “kind boyar”. Yet, despite his reputation, he fell from grace from the reigning Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan the Terrible, who was the husband of Romanovich’s late sister. Consequently, Ivan made life very difficult for his brother-in-law, at one point sending 200 archers to pillage his home. After Ivan’s reign, Romanovich regained his status and was part of the tsar’s close circle once again.

After Romanovich’s death, the estate passed on through the family. His grandson Mikhail Romanov would become the founder of the Romanov dynasty which would go on to rule Russia until 1917. Around this time, the Chambers had already been transformed into a museum by Emperor Alexander who ordered their restoration in the middle of the 19th century.

Dedicated to showing the boyar lifestyle, the Chambers contain exhibits of daily life in medieval Russia. Within the estate’s three floors, visitors can explore halls, chambers, a study, dining room, and the cellar decorated in the 17th century style.

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