Russian architecture

Russian architecture

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Russian architecture follows a tradition whose roots were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

. After the fall of Kiev
Mongol invasion of Rus
The Mongol invasion of Russia was resumed on 21 December 1237 marking the resumption of the Mongol invasion of Europe, during which the Mongols attacked the medieval powers of Poland, Kiev, Hungary, and miscellaneous tribes of less organized peoples...

, Russian architectural history
Architectural History
Architectural History is the main journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain .The journal is published each autumn. The architecture of the British Isles is a major theme of the journal, although it includes more general papers on the history of architecture. Member of...

 continued in the principalities of Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

, Novgorod
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

, the succeeding states of the Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

, the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and the modern Russian Federation.

Kievan Rus' (988–1230)


The medieval state of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 was the predecessor of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and their respective cultures (including architecture). The great churches of Kievan Rus'
Architecture of Kievan Rus
The medieval state of Kievan Rus incorporated parts of what is now modern Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and was centered around Kiev and Novgorod. Its architectural style quickly established itself after the adoption of Christianity in 988 and was strongly influenced by the Byzantine...

, built after the adoption of Christianity
Baptism of Kievan Rus'
The Christianization of Kievan Rus took place in several stages. In early 867, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople announced to other Orthodox patriarchs that the Rus', baptised by his bishop, took to Christianity with particular enthusiasm...

 in 988, were the first examples of monumental architecture in the East Slavic region. The architectural style of the Kievan state, which quickly established itself, was strongly influenced by Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

. Early Eastern Orthodox churches were mainly built from wood, with their simplest form known as a cell church
Cell church
A cell church is a Christian church structure centering on the regular gathering of cell groups. Small group ministries are often called cell groups, but may also be called home groups, home friendship groups, home care groups, house fellowships, or life groups.A church with cell groups is not...

. Major cathedrals often featured many small domes, which has led some art historians to infer how the pagan Slavic temples may have appeared.

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Novgorod and the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy.-History:...

 (1044–52), on the other hand, expressed a new style which exerted a strong influence on Russian church architecture
Church architecture
Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions...

. Its austere thick walls, small, narrow windows, and helmeted cupolas have much in common with the Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 of Western Europe. Further departures from the Byzantine model are evident in succeeding Novgorod cathedrals: St Nicholas' (1113), St Anthony's (1117–19), and St George's (1119). The secular architecture of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 has barely survived. Until the 20th century only the Golden Gates
Golden Gate (Vladimir)
The Golden Gates of Vladimir , constructed between 1158 and 1164, are the only preserved instance of the ancient Russian city gates. A museum inside focuses on the history of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the 13th century....

 of Vladimir
Vladimir
Vladimir is a city and the administrative center of Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located on the Klyazma River, to the east of Moscow along the M7 motorway. Population:...

, despite much 18th-century restoration, could be regarded as an authentic monument of the pre-Mongol period. During the 1940s, archaeologist Nikolai Voronin discovered the well-preserved remains of Andrei Bogolyubsky
Andrei Bogolyubsky
Prince Andrei I of Vladimir, commonly known as Andrey Bogolyubsky was a prince of Vladimir-Suzdal . He was the son of Yuri Dolgoruki, who proclaimed Andrei a prince in Vyshhorod . His mother was a Kipchak princess, khan Aepa's daughter.- Life :He left Vyshhorod in 1155 and moved to Vladimir...

's palace in Bogolyubovo
Bogolyubovo
Bogolyubovo is an urban-type settlement in Suzdalsky District, Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located some north-east of Vladimir. Population: 3,900 .Bogolyubovo was once the residence of the Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky...

 (dating from 1158–65).

The city of Novgorod preserved its architecture during the Mongol invasion. The first churches were commissioned by the princes; however, after the 13th century merchants, guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s and communities began to commission cathedrals. The citizens of 13th-century Novgorod were noted for their shrewdness, diligence and prosperity, expanding from the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 to the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

. The architecture in Novgorod did not begin to flourish until the turn of the 12th century. The Novgorod Sophia cathedral was modeled after the original Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus'. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first Ukrainian patrimony to be inscribed on the World Heritage List along with the Kiev Cave Monastery complex...

; it is similar in appearance but smaller, narrower and (in a development of North Russian architecture) onion-shaped domes replace cupola
Cupola
In architecture, a cupola is a small, most-often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome....

s. Construction was supervised by workmen from Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, who also imported bricks. The primary building materials were fieldstone
Fieldstone church
The term fieldstone church denotes a type of church, built using fieldstone of glacial erratics and glacial rubble. Such churches occur mostly in areas where the ice ages have deposited such rock material on the one hand, and where on the other hand there is little or no access to natural rock for...

 and undressed
Ashlar
Ashlar is prepared stone work of any type of stone. Masonry using such stones laid in parallel courses is known as ashlar masonry, whereas masonry using irregularly shaped stones is known as rubble masonry. Ashlar blocks are rectangular cuboid blocks that are masonry sculpted to have square edges...

 limestone blocks. It is said that the interiors were painted in frescoes, which have now vanished. The doors were made of bronze.

The katholikon
Katholikon
A Katholikon or Catholicon is the major temple of a monastery, or diocese in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The name derives from the fact that it is the largest temple where all gather together to celebrate the major feast days of the liturgical year. At other times, the smaller temples or...

 of Yuriev Monastery
Yuriev Monastery
The St. George's Monastery is one of Russia's oldest monasteries. It stands south of Novgorod on the left bank of the Volkhov River near where it flows out of Lake Ilmen. The monastery used to be the most important in the medieval Novgorod Republic...

 was commissioned in 1119 by Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich. The architect was known as Master Peter, one of the few architects who have been recorded at this time in Russia. The exterior is characterized by narrow windows and double-recessed niches, which proceed in a rhythm across the façade; the interior walls reach a height of 20 metres (65.6 ft). Its pillars are closely spaced, emphasizing the height of the vaulted ceilings. The interior was covered in frescoes from the prince’s workshops, including some of the rarest Russian paintings of the time.

The Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior was a memorial to Ilya Muromets
Ilya Muromets
Ilya Muromets is a Kievan Rus' epic hero. He is celebrated in numerous byliny . Along with Dobrynya Nikitich and Alyosha Popovich he is regarded as the greatest of all the legendary bogatyrs...

. During the Mongol invasion, Ilya was reputed to have saved the city; the church was built in his honor on Elijah Street in 1374. During this time the city-state of Novgorod established a separate district for the princes, subdividing the city into a series of streets where the church still stands. The church windows are more detailed, the niches deeper and the dome (seen in larger cathedrals) is augmented by a pitched roof.

Another church closely resembling the Church of the Transfiguration is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Kozhevniki. It was constructed in 1406, and the primary difference is in building material. The detail is focused on the west and south facades. New ornamental motifs in the brick appear at this time. Brick was also used for the pilaster
Pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

s which delineate the façade. It was originally plastered, but underwent restoration after it was damaged during World War II. Its apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 points towards the river, which provides a welcome sight for ships approaching from the Baltic. The shingled roof resembles the bochka roof
Bochka roof
Bochka roof or simply bochka is the type of roof in the traditional Russian architecture that has a form of half-cylinder with elevated and sharpened upper part, resembling the sharpened kokoshnik...

s popular at the time. The walls were built from local quarrystone
Rubble masonry
Rubble masonry is rough, unhewn building stone set in mortar, but not laid in regular courses. It may appear as the outer surface of a wall or may fill the core of a wall which is faced with unit masonry such as brick or cut stone....

, which contrasted with the red bricks. The ground plan of the church is almost square with four pillars, one apse and one dome.

Early Muscovite period (1230-1530)


The Mongols looted the country so thoroughly that even capitals (such as Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 or Tver
Tver
Tver is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 403,726 ; 408,903 ;...

) could not afford new stone churches for more than half a century. Novgorod and Pskov
Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

 escaped the Mongol yoke, however, and evolved into successful commercial republics; dozens of medieval churches (from the 12th century and after) have been preserved in these towns. The churches of Novgorod (such as the Saviour-on-Ilyina-Street, built in 1374), are steep-roofed and roughly carved; some contain magnificent medieval fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es. The tiny and picturesque churches of Pskov feature many novel elements: corbel arch
Kokoshnik
The kokoshnik is a traditional Russian head-dress worn by women and girls to accompany the sarafan. It is patterned to match the style of the sarafan and can be pointed or round. It is tied at the back of the head with long thick ribbons in a large bow. The forehead is sometimes decorated with...

es, church porch
Porch
A porch is external to the walls of the main building proper, but may be enclosed by screen, latticework, broad windows, or other light frame walls extending from the main structure.There are various styles of porches, all of which depend on the architectural tradition of its location...

es, exterior galleries and bell towers. All these features were introduced by Pskov masons to Muscovy, where they constructed numerous buildings during the 15th century (including the Deposition Church of the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

 (1462) and the Holy Spirit Church of the Holy Trinity Lavra
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to...

, built in 1476).

The 14th-century churches of Muscovy are few, and their ages are disputed. Typical monuments—found in Nikolskoe (near Ruza
Ruza
Ruza is a town and the administrative center of Ruzsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, located on the Ruza River west of Moscow. Population:...

, possibly from the 1320s) and Kolomna
Kolomna
Kolomna is an ancient city and the administrative center of Kolomensky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers, southeast of Moscow. The area of the city is about . The city was founded in 1177...

 (possibly from the second decade of the 14th century)—are diminutive single-domed fortified churches, built of roughly-hewn ("wild") stone and capable of withstanding brief sieges. By the construction of the Assumption Cathedral in Zvenigorod
Zvenigorod
Zvenigorod is an old town in Moscow Oblast, Russia. Population: -History:The community has existed since the 12th century, although its first written mention is dated 1338. The town's name is based either on a personal name or on a hydronym Zvenigorod is an old town in Moscow Oblast, Russia....

 (possibly in 1399), Muscovite masons regained the mastery of pre-Mongol builders and solved some of the construction problems which had puzzled their predecessors. Signature monuments of early Muscovite architecture are found in the Holy Trinity Lavra
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to...

 (1423), Savvin Monastery of Zvenigorod (possibly 1405) and St. Andronik Monastery
St. Andronik Monastery
Andronikov Monastery of the Saviour is a former monastery on the left bank of the Yauza River in Moscow, consecrated to the Holy Image of Saviour Not Made by Hands and containing the oldest extant building in Moscow...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 (1427).

By the end of the 15th century Muscovy was so powerful a state that its prestige required magnificent, multi-domed buildings on a par with the pre-Mongol cathedrals of Novgorod and Vladimir. As Russian masters were unable to build anything like them, Ivan III invited Italian masters from Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. They reproduced ancient Vladimir structures in three large cathedrals in the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

, and decorated them with Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 motifs. These ambitious Kremlin cathedrals (among them the Dormition and Archangel Cathedrals) were imitated throughout Russia during the 16th century, with new edifices tending to be larger and more ornate than their predecessors (for example, the Hodegetria
Hodegetria
A Hodegetria — or Virgin Hodegetria — is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind...

 Cathedral of Novodevichy Convent
Novodevichy Convent
Novodevichy Convent, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is probably the best-known cloister of Moscow. Its name, sometimes translated as the New Maidens' Monastery, was devised to differ from an ancient maidens' convent within the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has...

 from the 1520s).

Apart from churches, many other structures date from Ivan III's reign. These include fortifications (Kitai-gorod
Kitai-gorod
Kitay-gorod , earlier also known as Great Posad , is a business district within Moscow, Russia, encircled by mostly-reconstructed medieval walls. It is separated from the Moscow Kremlin by Red Square. It does not constitute a district , as there are no resident voters, thus, municipal elections...

, the Kremlin
Kremlin
A kremlin , same root as in kremen is a major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the best-known one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there...

 (its current towers were built later), Ivangorod
Ivangorod
Ivangorod is a town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated on the right bank of the Narva River by the Russian-Estonian border, west of St. Petersburg. Population: The town is known for the Ivangorod fortress....

), towers (Ivan the Great Bell Tower
Ivan the Great Bell Tower
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower is the tallest of the towers in the Moscow Kremlin complex, with a total height of . It was built in 1508 for the Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Cathedral Square, namely the Assumption, Archangel and Annunciation cathedrals, which do not have their own belfries...

) and palaces (the Palace of Facets
Palace of Facets
The Palace of the Facets is a building in the Moscow Kremlin, Russia, which contains what used to be the main banquet reception hall of the Muscovite Tsars. It is the oldest preserved secular building in Moscow. Located on Kremlin Cathedral Square, between the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the...

 and the Uglich
Uglich
Uglich is a historic town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, which stands on the Volga River. Population: A local tradition dates the town's origins to 937. It was first documented in 1148 as Ugliche Pole...

 Palace). The number and variety of extant buildings may be attributed to the fact that Italian architects persuaded Muscovites to abandon prestigious, expensive and unwieldy limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 for much cheaper and lighter brick
Brick
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

 as the principal construction material.

Middle Muscovite period (1530–1630)


In the 16th century, the key development was the introduction of the tented roof
Tented roof
A tented roof is a type of roof widely used in 16th and 17th century Russian architecture for churches. It is like a polygonal spire but differs in purpose in that it is typically used to roof the main internal space of a church, rather than an auxiliary structure...

 in brick architecture. Tent-like roof construction is thought to have originated in northern Russia, since it prevented snow from piling up on wooden buildings during long winters. In wooden churches (even modern ones), this type of roof has been very popular. The first tent-like brick church is the Ascension church in Kolomenskoe (1531), designed to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible. Its design gives rise to speculation; it is likely that this style (never found in other Orthodox countries) symbolized the ambition of the nascent Russian state and the liberation of Russian art from Byzantine canons after Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

's fall to the Turks.

Tented churches were popular during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Two prime examples dating from his reign employ several tents of exotic shapes and colors, arranged in an intricate design: the Church of St John the Baptist in Kolomenskoye
Kolomenskoye
Kolomenskoye is a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the south-east of the city-centre of Moscow, Russia, on the ancient road leading to the town of Kolomna...

 (1547) and Saint Basil's Cathedral
Saint Basil's Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat , popularly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral , is a Russian Orthodox church erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–61. Built on the order of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan, it marks the...

 on Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

 (1561). The latter church unites nine tented roofs in a striking circular composition.

Late Muscovite period (1630–1712)


After the Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

 the church and state were bankrupt, unable to finance any construction works; an initiative was taken by rich merchants in Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl is a city and the administrative center of Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located northeast of Moscow. The historical part of the city, a World Heritage Site, is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers. It is one of the Golden Ring cities, a group of historic cities...

, on the Volga. During the 17th century, they built many large cathedral-type churches with five onion-like cupolas, surrounding them with tents of bell towers and aisles. At first the churches' composition was sharply asymmetrical, with different parts balancing each other on the "scale-beam" principle (e.g., the Church of Elijah the Prophet, 1647–50). Subsequently the Yaroslavl churches were strictly symmetrical, with cupolas taller than the building itself, and amply decorated with polychrome
Polychrome
Polychrome is one of the terms used to describe the use of multiple colors in one entity. It has also been defined as "The practice of decorating architectural elements, sculpture, etc., in a variety of colors." Polychromatic light is composed of a number of different wavelengths...

 tiles (e.g., the Church of John the Chrysostom on the Volga, 1649–54). A zenith of Volga architecture was reached in the Church of St John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist Church, Yaroslavl
St. John the Baptist Church in Yaroslavl is considered to be the acme of the Yaroslavl school of architecture. It was built in 1671-1687 on the bank of Kotorosl river in the Tolchkovo sloboda which at that time was the largest and wealthiest part of the town.Its walls and dome drums are covered...

 (built 1671-87)—the largest in Yaroslavl, with 15 cupolas and more than 500 frescoes. The brick exterior of the church, from the cupolas down to the tall porches, was elaborately carved and decorated with tiles.

The 17th-century Moscow churches are also profusely decorated, but they are much smaller in size. Earlier in the century, the Muscovites still favoured tent-like constructions. The chief object of their admiration was the "Miraculous" Assumption Church in Uglich
Uglich
Uglich is a historic town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, which stands on the Volga River. Population: A local tradition dates the town's origins to 937. It was first documented in 1148 as Ugliche Pole...

 (1627): it had three graceful tents in a row, reminiscent of three burning candles. This composition was extravagantly employed in the Hodegetria Church of Vyazma
Vyazma
Vyazma is a town and the administrative center of Vyazemsky District of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Vyazma River, about halfway between Smolensk and Mozhaysk. Throughout its turbulent history, the city defended western approaches to the city of Moscow...

 (1638) and the Nativity Church at Putinki
Nativity Church at Putinki
The Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos at Putinki is one of the most picturesque churches in Moscow and the last major tent-like church in the history of Russian architecture...

, Moscow (1652). Assuming that such constructions ran counter to the traditional Byzantine type, the Patriarch Nikon declared them un-canonical. He encouraged building elaborate ecclesiastical residences (such as the Rostov
Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

 Kremlin on the Nero Lake which featured five tall churches, many towers, palaces, and chambers). Nikon designed his new residence at the New Jerusalem Monastery
New Jerusalem Monastery
The New Jerusalem Monastery or Novoiyerusalimsky Monastery , also known as the Voskresensky Monastery, is a male monastery, located in the town of Istra in Moscow Oblast, Russia....

 which was dominated by a rotunda-like cathedral, the first of its type in Russia.

Since the tents were banned, the Muscovite architects had to replace them with successive rows of corbel
Corbel
In architecture a corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any superincumbent weight. A piece of timber projecting in the same way was called a "tassel" or a "bragger". The technique of corbelling, where rows of corbels deeply keyed inside a wall support a projecting wall or...

 arches (kokoshniki), and this decorative element was to become a hallmark of 17th-century Moscow flamboyant style. An early example of the flamboyant style is the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square (1633–36). By the end of the century, more than 100 churches in the fiery style were erected in Moscow, and perhaps as many again in the neighbouring region. Among the more splendid examples are the Moscow churches of the Holy Trinity at Nikitniki (1653), St Nicholas at Khamovniki (1682), and Holy Trinity at Ostankino (1692). Probably the most representative flamboyant-style structure was the Church of St Nicholas (the "Grand Cross") in the Kitai-gorod
Kitai-gorod
Kitay-gorod , earlier also known as Great Posad , is a business district within Moscow, Russia, encircled by mostly-reconstructed medieval walls. It is separated from the Moscow Kremlin by Red Square. It does not constitute a district , as there are no resident voters, thus, municipal elections...

, brutally destroyed at Stalin's
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 behest.

As Russian architecture degenerated into the purely decorative, it was also influenced by the Polish and Ukrainian Baroque
Ukrainian Baroque
Ukrainian Baroque or Cossack Baroque is an architectural style that emerged in Ukraine during the Hetmanate era, in the 17th and 18th centuries....

. The first baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 churches were small chapels built on the Naryshkin
Naryshkin
Naryshkin is a Russian surname and may refer to:* Members of the Naryshkin family* Sergey Naryshkin , a politician* Two men of the name Kirill Naryshkin...

 family estates near Moscow, so the name of Naryshkin baroque
Naryshkin Baroque
Naryshkin Baroque, also called Moscow Baroque, or Muscovite Baroque, is the name given to a particular style of Baroque architecture and decoration which was fashionable in Moscow from the turn of the 17th into the early 18th centuries.-Style:...

 is often applied to this style. Some of these churches are tower-like, with cubic and octagonal floors placed atop each other (the Saviour Church at Ubory, 1697); others have a ladder-like composition, with a bell tower rising above the church itself (the Intercession Church at Fili
Church of the Intercession at Fili
The Church of the Intercession at Fili is a Naryshkin baroque church commissioned by the boyar Lev Naryshkin in his suburban estate Fili; the territory has belonged to City of Moscow since 1935...

, 1695). The Baroque and flamboyant-style decoration is often so profuse that the church seems to be the work of a jeweller rather than a mason (e.g., the Trinity Church at Lykovo, 1696). Perhaps the most delightful example of the Naryshkin baroque was the multi-domed Assumption Church on the Pokrovka Street
Naryshkin Baroque
Naryshkin Baroque, also called Moscow Baroque, or Muscovite Baroque, is the name given to a particular style of Baroque architecture and decoration which was fashionable in Moscow from the turn of the 17th into the early 18th centuries.-Style:...

 in Moscow (built 1696-99, demolished 1929). Its architect was also responsible for the "red and white" reconstruction of several Moscow monastic structures, notably the Novodevichy Convent
Novodevichy Convent
Novodevichy Convent, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is probably the best-known cloister of Moscow. Its name, sometimes translated as the New Maidens' Monastery, was devised to differ from an ancient maidens' convent within the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has...

 and the Donskoy Monastery
Donskoy Monastery
Donskoy Monastery is a major monastery in Moscow, founded in 1591 in commemoration of Moscow's deliverance from an imminent threat of Khan Kazy-Girey’s invasion...

.

The Baroque style quickly spread throughout Russia, gradually replacing more traditional and canonical architecture. The Stroganov merchants sponsored construction of majestic Baroque structures in Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod , colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg...

 (the Nativity Church, 1703) and in the remote tundra region (the Presentation Cathedral in Solvychegodsk
Solvychegodsk
Solvychegodsk is a town in the southern part of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, located on the right-hand bank of the Vychegda River northeast of Kotlas. Administratively, it is a part of Kotlassky District. Municipally, it is incorporated as Solvychegodskoye Urban Settlement of Kotlassky Municipal...

, 1693). During the first decades of the 18th century, some remarkable Baroque cathedrals were built in such eastern towns as Kazan
Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

, Solikamsk
Solikamsk
Solikamsk is a town in Perm Krai, Russia. It is the third-largest town in Perm Krai, with a population of It was founded in 1430. The name of the town is derived from the Russian words "" and "" .It is famous for its production of salt, in particular, potassium chloride, which is used as a...

, Verkhoturye
Verkhoturye
Verkhoturye is a historic town and the administrative center of Verkhotursky District of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, located in the middle Ural Mountains on the left bank of the Tura River north of Yekaterinburg. Population: 7,815 Verkhoturye is a historic town and the administrative center of...

, Tobolsk
Tobolsk
Tobolsk is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. It is a historic capital of Siberia. Population: -History:...

 and Irkutsk
Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

. Also interesting are the traditional wooden churches by carpenters of the Russian North. Working without hammer and nails, they constructed such bizarre structures as the 24-domed Intercession Church at Vytegra
Vytegra
Vytegra may refer to:*Vytegra, a town in Vologda Oblast, Russia*Vytegra River, a river in Vologda Oblast, Russia...

 (1708, burnt down 1963) and the 22-domed Transfiguration Church at Kizhi
Kizhi
Kizhi is an island near the geometrical center of the Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia , Russia. It is elongated from north to south and is about 6 km long, 1 km wide and is about 68 km away from the capital of Karelia, Petrozavodsk.Settlements and churches on the island were...

 (1714).

Imperial Russia (1712–1917)


In 1712, Peter I of Russia
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 moved the capital from Moscow to St Petersburg, which he planned to design in the Dutch style usually called Petrine baroque
Petrine Baroque
Petrine Baroque is a name applied by art historians to a style of Baroque architecture and decoration favoured by Peter the Great and employed to design buildings in the newly-founded Russian capital, Saint Petersburg, under this monarch and his immediate successors.Unlike contemporaneous Naryshkin...

. Its major monuments include the Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were...

 and Menshikov
Menshikov
Menshikov may refer to one of the following persons*Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov *Aleksandr Sergeyevich Menshikov *Alexei Menshikov *Mikhail Menshikov , various...

 Palace.
During the reign of Empress Anna and Elizaveta Petrovna, Russian architecture was dominated by the luxurious baroque style of Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was an Italian architect naturalized Russian. He developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque, both sumptuous and majestic...

; Rastrelli's signature buildings include the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

, the Catherine Palace
Catherine Palace
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo , 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.- History :...

 and the Smolny Cathedral. Other distinctive monuments of the Elizabethan Baroque are the bell tower of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to...

 and the Red Gate
Red Gate
Red Gates in Moscow was a triumphal arch built in an exuberantly baroque design. Gates or arches of this type were common in 18th century Moscow. However, the Red Gates were the only one that survived into 20th century...

.

Catherine the Great dismissed Rastrelli and patronized neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 architects invited from Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Some representative buildings from her reign are the Alexander Palace
Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that...

 (by Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi was the foremost and most prolific practitioner of Palladian architecture in Imperial Russia, particularly in Saint Petersburg.- Career in Italy :...

) and the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra
Alexander Nevsky Lavra
Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra or Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded by Peter I of Russia in 1710 at the eastern end of the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg supposing that that was the site of the Neva Battle in 1240 when Alexander Nevsky, a prince, defeated the Swedes; however, the battle...

 (by Ivan Starov
Ivan Starov
Ivan Yegorovich Starov was a Russian architect from St. Petersburg who devised the master plans for Yaroslavl, Voronezh, Pskov, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, and many other towns in Russia and Ukraine...

). During Catherine's reign, the Russian Gothic Revival style was developed by Vasily Bazhenov and Matvei Kazakov in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

.
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 favoured the Empire style, which became de facto the only style of his period, evidenced by the Kazan Cathedral, the Admiralty building
Admiralty building, Saint Petersburg
The Admiralty building is the former headquarters of the Admiralty Board in St. Petersburg, russia.-History:The building you see now was re-built in the nineteenth century to support the Tsar's maritime ambitions. The original design was a fortified ship yars which was later surrounded by four...

, the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

, St Isaac's Cathedral, and the Narva Triumphal Gate
Narva Triumphal Gate
The Narva Triumphal Arch was erected in the vast Narva Square , Saint Petersburg, in 1814 to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon. The wooden structure was constructed on the Narva highway with the purpose of greeting the soldiers who were returning from abroad after their victory over...

s in Saint Petersburg. The Empire style's influence was even greater in Moscow, which had to rebuild thousands of houses destroyed by the fire of 1812
Fire of Moscow (1812)
The 1812 Fire of Moscow broke out on September 14, 1812 in Moscow on the day when Russian troops and most residents abandoned the city and Napoleon's vanguard troops entered the city following the Battle of Borodino...

.

In the 1830s Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 eased regulation in architecture, opening the trade to several incarnations of early eclecticism
Eclecticism
Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.It can sometimes seem inelegant or...

. Konstantin Ton's pseudo-Russian designs became the preferred choice in church construction (Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, 1832–1883), while his public buildings followed Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 tradition, exemplified in the Great Kremlin Palace (1838–49) and the Kremlin Armoury
Kremlin Armoury
The Kremlin Armory is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1808 and located in the Moscow Kremlin .The Kremlin Armoury originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing weapons,...

 (1844–1851). The subsequent reigns of Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 and Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 promoted a Russian Byzantine revival in church architecture, while civil construction followed the same variety of eclectisicm common in all European countries; this featured ever-growing national revival trends, vernacular and imaginary (Pogodin's Hut and the State Historical Museum
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of the prehistoric tribes inhabiting present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty...

 in Moscow, for example).

Between 1895 and 1905 architecture was briefly dominated by Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

, most active in Moscow (Lev Kekushev
Lev Kekushev
Lev Nikolayevich Kekushev was a Russian architect, notable for his Art Nouveau buildings in Moscow, built in the 1890s and early 1900s in the original, Franco-Belgian variety of this style...

, Fyodor Schechtel
Fyodor Schechtel
Fyodor Osipovich Schechtel was a Russian architect, graphic artist and stage designer, the most influential and prolific master of Russian Art Nouveau and late Russian Revival....

 and William Walcot
William Walcot
William Walcot was a British architect graphic artist and etcher, notable as a practitioner of refined Art Nouveau in Moscow, Russia . His trademark Lady's Head keystone ornament became the easily recognizable symbol of Russian Style Moderne...

). While it remained a popular choice until the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, in 1905-1914 it gave way to the Russian neoclassical revival
Russian neoclassical revival
Russian neoclassical revival was a trend in Russian culture, mostly pronounced in architecture, that briefly replaced eclecticism and Art Nouveau as the leading architectural style between the Revolution of 1905 and the outbreak of World War I, coexisting with the Silver Age of Russian Poetry...

—merging the Empire style and palladian
Palladian architecture
Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio . The term "Palladian" normally refers to buildings in a style inspired by Palladio's own work; that which is recognised as Palladian architecture today is an evolution of...

 tradition with contemporary construction technology.

Post-Revolution (1917–1932)


In the first year of Soviet rule all architects refusing to emigrate (and the new generation) denounced any classical heritage in their work and began to propagate formalism
Formalism (art)
In art theory, formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism, context, and content...

, the most influential of all Revivalist
Revivalism (architecture)
Revivalism in architecture is the use of visual styles that consciously echo the style of a previous architectural era.There were a number of architectural revivalist movements in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries....

 themes. Great plans were drawn for large, technically-advanced cities. The most ambitious of all was the Tower of the Third Internationale
Tatlin's Tower
Tatlin’s Tower or The Monument to the Third International is a grand monumental building envisioned by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, but never built. It was planned to be erected in Petrograd Tatlin’s Tower or The Monument to the Third International is a grand monumental...

, planned in 1919 by Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin was a Russian and Soviet painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he was one of the two most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement of the 1920s, and he later became the most important artist in the Constructivist movement...

 (1885–1953)—а 400-meter spiral, wound around a tilted central axis with rotating glass chambers. Impossible in real life, the Tatlin Tower inspired a generation of constructivist
Constructivist architecture
Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose. Although it was divided into several competing factions, the movement produced...

 architects in Russia and abroad. The Shukhov Tower
Shukhov Tower
The Shukhov radio tower , also known as the Shabolovka tower, is a broadcasting tower in Moscow designed by Vladimir Shukhov. The 160-metre-high free-standing steel structure was built in the period 1920–1922, during the Russian Civil War...

, rising 160 metres (524.9 ft) above Moscow, was completed in 1922. According to the initial plans the Hyperboloid Tower
Hyperboloid structure
Hyperboloid structures are architectural structures designed with hyperboloid geometry. Often these are tall structures such as towers where the hyperboloid geometry's structural strength is used to support an object high off the ground, but hyperboloid geometry is also often used for decorative...

 by Vladimir Shukhov
Vladimir Shukhov
Vladimir Grigoryevich Shukhov , was a Russian engineer-polymath, scientist and architect renowned for his pioneering works on new methods of analysis for structural engineering that led to breakthroughs in industrial design of world's first hyperboloid structures, lattice shell structures, tensile...

 (with a height of 350 metres (1,148.3 ft) had an estimated mass of 2200 tonnes (2,200,000 kg), while the Eifel Tower in Paris (with a height of 350 metres (1,148.3 ft) weighs 7300 tonnes (7,300,000 kg).

An important priority during the post-revolutionary period was the mass reconstruction of cities. In 1918 Alexey Shchusev
Alexey Shchusev
Alexey Viktorovich Shchusev ), 1873, Chişinău—24 May 1949, Moscow) was an acclaimed Russian and Soviet architect whose works may be regarded as a bridge connecting Revivalist architecture of Imperial Russia with Stalin's Empire Style....

 (1873–1949) and Ivan Zholtovsky founded the Mossovet
Mossovet
Mossovet , an abbreviation of Moscow Soviet of People's Deputies, was the informal name of *parallel, shadow city administration of Moscow, Russia run by left-wing parties in 1917*city administration of Moscow in Soviet period...

 Architectural Workshop, where the complex planning of Moscow's reconstruction as a new Soviet capital took place. The workshop employed young architects who later emerged as avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 leaders. At the same time architectural education, concentrated in the Vkhutemas
VKhUTEMAS
Vkhutemas ) was the Russian state art and technical school founded in 1920 in Moscow, replacing the Moscow Svomas. The workshops were established by a decree from Vladimir Lenin with the intentions, in the words of the Soviet government, "to prepare master artists of the highest qualifications for...

, was divided between revivalists and modernists.

In 1919 Petrograd saw a similar planning and educational setup, headed by experienced revivalist Ivan Fomin
Ivan Fomin
Ivan Aleksandrovich Fomin was a Russian architect and educator. He began his career in 1899 in Moscow, working in the Art Nouveau style. After relocating to Saint Petersburg in 1905, he became an established master of the Neoclassical Revival movement...

 (1872–1936). Other cities followed suit, and the results of the work carried out there were to make dramatic changes in traditional Russian city layout. The first large-scale development templates (generalny plan) were drawn there. The city was planned as a series of new wide avenues, massive public structures and the improvement of workers' housing with heat and plumbing. The first apartment building of this period was completed in 1923, followed by a surge of public-housing construction in 1925-1929.

In Petrograd from 1917–1919 the first example of the new style was built on the Field of Mars
Field of Mars (Saint Petersburg)
The Field of Mars or Marsovo Polye is a large park named after the Mars - Roman god of war situated in the center of Saint-Petersburg, with an area of about 9 hectares. Bordering the Field of Mars to the north are the Marble Palace, Suvorova Square and Betskoi’s and Saltykov’s houses. To the west...

— a monument, "Strugglers of the Revolution", designed by Lev Rudnev
Lev Rudnev
Lev Vladimirovich Rudnev was a Soviet architect, and a leading practitioner of Stalinist architecture.-Biography:Rudnev was born to the family of a school teacher in the town of Opochka . He graduated from the Riga Realschule and entered the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg...

 (1886–1956). This complex consisted of a series of simple, expressive granite monoliths and became the focal point for further development in Soviet sculptural and memorial architecture.
The most famous construction of this time, however, was Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum also known as Lenin's Tomb, situated in Red Square in the center of Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924...

 by Alexey Shchusev. Originally it was a temporary wooden structure, topped by a pyramid, with two wings (for entry and exit). In 1930 it was replaced with the present building, set in stone. The combination of dark red and black labradorite
Labradorite
Labradorite , a feldspar mineral, is an intermediate to calcic member of the plagioclase series. It is usually defined as having "%An" between 50 and 70. The specific gravity ranges from 2.68 to 2.72. The streak is white, like most silicates. The refractive index ranges from 1.559 to 1.573....

 enhanced its slender, precise construction.

The rapid development of technological processes and materials also influenced constuctivist elements in structure design. During the erection of the Volkhov Hydroelectric Station (1918–26, architects O.Munts and V.Pokrovsky), the traditional outline on the window arches is still used (despite concrete being used in construction). The Dnieper Hydroelectric Station
Dnieper Hydroelectric Station
The Dnieper Hydroelectric Station is the largest hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River, placed in Zaporizhia, Ukraine.- Early Plans :In the lower current of the Dnieper River there were almost 100 km long part of the river filled with rapids...

 (1927–32), built by a collective of architects headed by Viktor Vesnin
Viktor Aleksandrovic Vesnin
Viktor Aleksandrovich Vesnin , was a Russian Soviet architect. His early works follow the canon of Neoclassicist Revival; in 1920's, he and his brothers Leonid and Alexander emerged as leaders of Constructivist architecture, the Vesnin brothers...

 (1882–1950), has an innovative design featuring a curved dam with a rhythmic pattern of foundations.

A large role in the architectural life of 1920s Russia was played by creative unions. One of these was the Association of New Architects (Asnova), formed in 1923, which promulgated the idea of synthesising architecture and other creative arts to give buildings an almost-sculptural impression. These buildings were to serve as visual points for the orientation of a human in space. Members of Asnova also designed Moscow's first skyscrapers, none of which were realised at the time (1923–1926).

Another innovation from post-revolutionary Russia was a new type of public building: the workers' club and the Palace of Culture
Palace of Culture
Palace of Culture or House of Culture was the name for major club-houses in the former Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern bloc. It was an establishment for all kinds of recreational activities and hobbies: sports, collecting, arts, etc., and the Palace of Culture was designed to have room...

. These became a new focus for architects, who used the visual expression of large elements combined with industrial motifs. The most famous of these was the Zuev Club
Zuev Workers' Club
The Zuyev Workers' Club in Moscow is a prominent work of constructivist architecture. It was designed by Ilya Golosov during 1926 and finished during 1928...

 (1927–29) in Moscow by Ilya Golosov
Ilya Golosov
Ilya Alexandrovich Golosov was a Russian Soviet architect. A leader of Constructivism in 1925-1931, Ilya Golosov later developed his own style of early stalinist architecture known as postconstructivism...

 (1883–1945), whose composition relied on the dynamic contrast of simple shapes, planes, complete walls and glazed surfaces.

Symbolic expression in construction was a showpiece in works designed by Konstantin Melnikov
Konstantin Melnikov
Konstantin Stepanovich Melnikov was a Russian architect and painter. His architectural work, compressed into a single decade , placed Melnikov on the front end of 1920s avant-garde architecture...

 (1890–1974), notably the Rusakov Workers' Club (1927–1929) in Moscow. Visually, the building resembles part of a gear; each of the three cantilevered concrete "teeth" is a balcony of the main auditorium, which could be used individually or combined into a large theater hall. The sharpness of its composition and the "transition" of internal space (called by Melnikov a "tensed muscle") made it one of the most important examples of Soviet architecture.

Postwar Soviet Union


Stalinist architecture
Stalinist architecture
Stalinist architecture , also referred to as Stalinist Gothic, or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to architecture of the Soviet Union between 1933, when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned "excesses" of the past...

 put a premium on conservative monumentalism. During the 1930s there was rapid urbanisation as a result of Stalin's policies, and there was an international competition to build the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow at that time.
After 1945, the focus was on both rebuilding structures destroyed in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and erecting new ones: seven high-rise buildings
Seven Sisters (Moscow)
The "Seven Sisters" is the English name given to a group of Moscow skyscrapers designed in the Stalinist style. Muscovites call them Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki , " high-rises"...

 were built at symbolic points in the Moscow area. The construction of Moscow University (1948–1953), by Lev Rudnev
Lev Rudnev
Lev Vladimirovich Rudnev was a Soviet architect, and a leading practitioner of Stalinist architecture.-Biography:Rudnev was born to the family of a school teacher in the town of Opochka . He graduated from the Riga Realschule and entered the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg...

 and associates, is particularly notable for its use of space. Another example is the Exhibition Centre in Moscow
All-Russia Exhibition Centre
All-Russia Exhibition Centre is a permanent general-purpose trade show in Moscow, Russia....

, built for the second All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) in 1954. This featured a series of pavilions, each decorated in representative style. Other well-known examples are the stations of the Moscow
Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow and the neighbouring town of Krasnogorsk. Opened in 1935 with one line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2011, the Moscow Metro has 182 stations and its route length is . The system is...

 and Saint Petersburg Metro
Saint Petersburg Metro
The Saint Petersburg Metro is the underground railway system in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, Russia. It has been open since November 15, 1955.Formerly known as the V.I...

s built during the 1940s and 1950s, famous for their extravagant design and vivid decoration. In general, Stalinist architecture changed the appearance of many post-war cities; much survives to this day in central avenues and public buildings.

Following Stalin's death in 1953, social and political changes rocked the country; construction priorities and architecture were also affected. In 1955 Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, faced with the slow pace of housing construction, called for drastic measures to accelerate the process. This involved developing new mass-production technology and removing "decorative extras" from buildings.
This put an effective end to Stalinist architecture; however, the transition was slow. Most projects in the planning state or under construction by 1955 were directly affected; the result, at times, was entire areas becoming esthetically asymmetrical.
A well-known example occurred in the postwar reconstruction of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, in which the planned Kreschatik avenue and its central square (Ploschad Kalinina
Maidan Nezalezhnosti
Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the central square of Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. One of the main city squares, it is located on the Khreschatyk Street...

) were to form a single rich space enclosed by Stalinist construction. However, as the buildings enclosing the latter were in completion, the architects were forced to alter their plans and the area was left unfinished until the early 1980s. In particular Hotel Ukrayina
Hotel Ukrayina
Hotel Ukrayina is a three-star hotel located in central Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The hotel was built in 1961 as the Hotel "Moscow" in a location which originally was occupied by Kiev's first skyscraper, the Ginzburg House...

, which was to crown the square with a look similar to one of Moscow's "Seven sisters"
Seven Sisters (Moscow)
The "Seven Sisters" is the English name given to a group of Moscow skyscrapers designed in the Stalinist style. Muscovites call them Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki , " high-rises"...

, was left as a solid shape without a top spire or any rich external decoration.

Nevertheless, as the buildings became more square and simple they brought with them a new style fueled by the Space Age
Space Age
The Space Age is a time period encompassing the activities related to the Space Race, space exploration, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. The Space Age is generally considered to have begun with Sputnik...

: functionality. The State Kremlin Palace
State Kremlin Palace
The State Kremlin Palace , formerly and unofficially still better known as the Kremlin Palace of Congresses , is a large modern building inside the Moscow Kremlin....

 is an hommage to an earlier attempt to bridge rapidly-changing styles dictated by the state. The Ostankino Tower
Ostankino Tower
Ostankino Tower is a free-standing television and radio tower in Moscow, Russia. Standing tall, Ostankino was designed by Nikolai Nikitin. It is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers, currently the tallest in Europe and 4th tallest in the world. The tower was the first free-standing...

, by Nikolai Nikitin
Nikolai Nikitin
Nikolay Nikitkin was a structural designer and construction engineer of the Soviet Union, best known for his monumental structures.-Biography:...

, symbolizes technological advances and the future.
In addition to simpler buildings, the 1960s are remembered for massive housing plans. A typical project was developed using concrete panels to make a simple, five-story house. These Pyatietazhki became the dominant housing construction. Although rapidly built, their quality was poor compared with earlier housing; their monotonous appearance contributed to the grey and dull stereotype characteristic of socialist cities.

As the 1970s began, Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 allowed architects more freedom; soon, housing of varied design was built. Blocks of flats were taller and more decorated; large mosaics on their sides became a feature. In nearly all cases, these were built not as standalone construction but as part of large estates which soon became a central feature of socialist cities. Public buildings were built with a variety of themes. Some (like the White House of Russia) made direct connections to earlier 1950s architecture, with a white marble-faced exterior and large bas-reliefs on the wings.

Modern Russia


As the Soviet Union fell apart
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 many of its projects were put on hold, and some cancelled altogether. However, for the first time there was no longer any control over what theme a building should have or how high it should be. As a result, with generally-improving financial conditions architecture grew at a high rate. For the first time modern methods of skyscraper construction were implemented; this resulted in an ambitious business centre in Moscow, Moscow City. In other cases, architects returned to successful designs of Stalinist architecture, which resulted in buildings like the Triumph Palace in Moscow.

See also

  • List of tallest buildings in Russia
  • List of Russian architects
  • Tented roof
    Tented roof
    A tented roof is a type of roof widely used in 16th and 17th century Russian architecture for churches. It is like a polygonal spire but differs in purpose in that it is typically used to roof the main internal space of a church, rather than an auxiliary structure...

  • Stalinist architecture
    Stalinist architecture
    Stalinist architecture , also referred to as Stalinist Gothic, or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to architecture of the Soviet Union between 1933, when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned "excesses" of the past...

  • Constructivist architecture
    Constructivist architecture
    Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose. Although it was divided into several competing factions, the movement produced...

  • Palace of Soviets
    Palace of Soviets
    The Palace of the Soviets was a project to construct an administrative center and a congress hall in Moscow, Russia, near the Kremlin, on the site of the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour...

  • Latvian Academy of Sciences
    Latvian Academy of Sciences
    The Academy of Sciences is the official science academy of Latvia and is an association of the country's foremost scientists. The academy was founded as the Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences . It is located in Riga...

  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Warsaw
    Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Warsaw
    The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Saxon Square built by authorities of Imperial Russia in Warsaw, Poland, then under the rule of the Russian Empire. The cathedral was designed by distinguished Russian architect Leon Benois, and was built between 1894 and 1912...

  • Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science
    Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science
    The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw is the tallest building in Poland, the eighth tallest building in the European Union. The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science , but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked; Stalin's...

  • Russian Church, Sofia
    Russian Church, Sofia
    The Russian Church , officially known as the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker , is a Russian Orthodox church in central Sofia, Bulgaria, situated on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard.-History and architecture:The church was built on the site of the Saray Mosque, which was destroyed in 1882, after the...


Further reading

  • Fletcher, Banister
    Banister Fletcher
    Sir Banister Flight Fletcher was an English architect and architectural historian, as was his father, also named Banister Fletcher....

    ; Cruickshank, Dan, Sir Banister Fletcher's a History of Architecture, Architectural Press, 20th edition, 1996 (first published 1896)bISBN 0-7506-2267-9. Cf. Part Two, Chapter 12.
  • William Craft Brumfield, A History of Russian Architecture. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, [1993] 2004. ISBN 0-295-98393-0

External links

The William C. Brumfield Collection, part of Meeting of Frontiers: Siberia, Alaska, and the American West Soviet Architecture Russian Architecture Russian photosite of Orthodox architecture Russian society of architects "Architectural links between Ukraine and Russia" by Igor Grabar