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A former royal residence turned into the home of one of Tsarist Russia’s wealthiest families, Yusupov Chambers is offering visitors a fascinating journey through the centuries.
Located in Bolshoi Kharitonyevsky lane, the area was once woodland during the times of Ivan the Terrible. The Tsar liked to hunt there, so he ordered a palace to be built.
The legend goes that it was designed by Barma and Postnik, the renowned duo who went on to create St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. The Tsar used the palace to relax after his hunting sprees, feasting lavishly, before slipping back to the Kremlin via a secret underground tunnel.
After Ivan’s death, the building stood abandoned until the reign of Peter the Great, when its ownership switched hands several times. The chambers were successively presented to a string of courtiers who rose to power and then fell out of favor.
In 1727, the palace was granted to Prince Grigory Yusupov. The wealthy and influential House of Yusupov owned the chambers for the next 200 years, rebuilding and enlarging the estate and gathering a vast collection of art.
At the start of the 19th century parts of the huge house were rented out. One of the tenants was the father of Aleksandr Pushkin – the future poet loved to roam the palace’s gardens, which inspired some of his works.
After the revolution, the Yusupovs fled to Europe and the estate ended up housing an agricultural academy. Now restored to its former splendor, it is open to visitors. Much of the house is decorated in the traditional Russian style.
On the ground floor, the so-called Hunting Room is dominated by paintings of hunting scenes featuring Ivan the Terrible, while at the main staircase guests are greeted by lions holding the family’s coat-of-arms.
The first floor has a striking Chinese Room, decorated in the Oriental style, very fashionable in the 19th century. Next to it is the Throne Room used for receptions and adorned with portraits of several Russian Tsars. With plenty more to see, the palace offers a fascinating look at how some of Russia’s richest nobles lived.
© Russia Today. 05 April, 2012