Rising above the city just opposite the Borovitskaya Kremlin TowerRussian: Borovitskaya bashnya or Боровицкая башня, right in the centre of the capital is one of Moscow’s most beautiful mansions- Pyotr Pashkov’s house, built in 1786. This building is one of the most significant architectural landmarks of the 18th century, a masterpiece of the epoch of classicism. It stands on Vagankovsky Hillone of seven hills in Moscow at the junction of MokhovayaRussian: улица Моховая and ZnamenkaRussian: улица Знаменка streets and is not overlaid by more modern buildings. Its position allows you to see it in detail in the best perspective.
THE HISTORY OF PASHKOV HOUSE
The map of Moscow of the 17-18th centuries differs significantly to what we see today. There used to be suburbs and forest lands behind Vagankovsky Hill at that time, where hunting and other entertainment for the tsar were arranged. According to the testimonies of contemporaries, Pyotr Pashkov (1726-1790), “the first Russian vodka baron”, was vain and ambitious. He was a self-made “new man”. This might have been the reason why he decided to build a palace which equaled the Emperor’s one in its beauty and grandeur.
It is unclear which architect designed the masterpiece of Pashkov HouseRussian: Dom Pashkova or Дом Пашкова. The construction of the house is attributed either to architect M. Kazakov, or N. Legrand, though most often to V. Bazhenov. He was a brilliant specialist; following French Neoclassical architects C. Ledoux and J-G. Soufflot, he acquired a love for impressive dimensions, sophisticated arrangement, and an abundance of décor which often contained masonic symbols. Bazhenov was the author of many grand projects, including the Tsaritsyno EstateRussian: usad'ba Tsaritsyino or усадьба Царицыно countryside ensemble. But it is Pashkov House that is unanimously believed to be his best creation. There is nothing excessive in the way it looks – it is simple and elegant, with only the clear classical shapes of the Ionian and Corinthian orders and modest stone décor. Despite its simplicity, it still bears some special aristocracy. The mansion became the first civic building whose windows overlooked the Kremlin from the top downwards.
The Pashkov House has a long history of reconstructions. After the Patriotic War of 1812war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812, the building was partially reconstructed by architect O. Bovean Italian-Russian neoclassical architect. The grand staircase on the side of Mokhovaya street and the modern fence were built in the 1930s to architect M. Dolganov’s project. Before that, the facade on the Mokhovaya street side was solid, and it was impossible to get into the house from the street.
The only original interior to have survived is the great hall. In the 19th century, the house was passed from its impoverished owners to the state treasury and was used according to the needs of the public. At first, the building was occupied by the Moscow Institute for NoblesRussian: Moskovskiy dvoryanskiy institut or Московский дворянский институт. After that, it was a gymnasium. In 1861, the Rumyantsev MuseumMoscow's first public museum evolved from the personal art collection and library of Count Nikolay Rumyantsev and the Moscow Public LibraryRussian: Publichnaya biblioteka or Публичная библиотека opened there. One of the departments of the Russian State LibraryRussian: Rossiyskaya gosudarstvennaya biblioteka or Российская государственная библиотека occupies the building today.
If the Russian history is a subject of your interest and you want to know, for example, what is the oldest church in Moscow, what are the famous monasteries around Moscow, which style of Moscow architecture you can see only in this town, you can read on our website pages about Red square in Moscow and “History and Architecture”.
The majestic building is constructed in accordance with the classical principle of a three-part system comprising the central house and two wings joined by two gallery-passages which used to be open like Italian porticoes. Despite all of its regular classical features, however, the mansion has some unique properties. First of all, the mansion is nothing but the town mansion. The original state of the building has been well preserved. However, there used to be a magnificent garden with ponds, fountains, various rare species of birds and plants in front of the main facade. German writer Johannes Richter called this house a “magical palace”.
Secondly, town mansions always have two facades – the grand façade for visitors and the secondary back facade. There is a unique arrangement in the Pashkov House as the facades change places; the back facade which overlooks the Kremlin from the garden and is meant for the residents’ private life acquires the function of the front one decoratively. This facade represents the ensemble. The main entrance to the mansion is on the opposite side, facing Starovagankovsky side streetRussian: Starovagankovskiy pereulok or Староваганьковский переулок and serves only as a reflection of the back one. It does not rise gracefully above the city but warmly welcomes the visitor into the quiet comfort of country life.
The décor of the house contains allusions to ancient art, which was much favoured by Bazhenov. The main house is girded by porticoes supported by columns in its central points and flat wall piers. The same goes for the wings. The central building is topped with a belvedere, which does not offer an opportunity to go all the way around due to the reconstruction by O. Bove. Initially it was made of wood to make the construction lighter and looked like a classical antique rotunda which allowed visitors to stroll around its columns. In summer, potted plants were placed on the flat roofs of the galleries which join the buildings, making a kind of “hanging gardens”. The belvedere was crowned with a dome of a complex shape and a statue of Mars (or possibly Minerva). The arrangement was topped with a spire.
Since its construction, the Pashkov House has been considered the capital’s most beautiful building. Mikhail Bulgakov chose its roof as the setting for his final chapter of “Master and Margarita”. This creation bears testimony to the exquisite taste of the architect who was able to combine the intricate, lightweight decoration with the conservative general arrangement.© 2016-2023 moscovery.com