The dining room of the House of Boyars
The House of the Romanov Boyars is located on Varvarka Ulitsa, in what is perhaps one of the oldest surviving buildings in the historic Kitai Gorod section of the city.
It was built in the sixteenth century by Nikita Romanov (Ivan the Terrible's brother-in-law), and it once formed the nucleus of a vast complex of seven thousand households stretching down to the river, made almost entirely of wood, with the exception of the palace.
Romanov men folk used the first floor, built of stone, whose rooms are low and vaulted, with mica windows, tiled stoves and gilded, embossed leather "wallpaper", in contrast to the spacious, airy women's quarters upstairs, panelled in blonde wood. Here, married couples slept on benches against the walls, while unmarried daughters spent the daytime weaving in the adjacent svetlitsa or "light room", with its latticed windows overlooking the street. The residence was abandoned after Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar in 1613, and the whole family and their retainers moved into the Kremlin. It was restored on the orders of Nicholas I as a tribute to his ancestors, and opened as a public museum in 1859. Among the first visitors, were members of the Imperial family, famous writers and other prominent Russians.
Although a venerable Moscow institution, the palace is for some reason often overlooked by foreign visitors. This is a shame, as it is a genuinely fascinating and appealing museum that gives an unusually complete glimpse of a world unknown to most Russians, let alone foreign visitors to Moscow.
© Royal Russia. 26 March, 2011