POSOLSKY PRIKAZ (AMBASSADORIAL OFFICE)

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In the 16th century, the expansion of external ties in Russia called for aspecial body - the  Posolsky Prikaz. Up to 1564, it was located in the wooden building together with other Prikaz services.

Offices of different Prikazes (izbas) were built eastwards from the Archangel Cathedral, on the land, which used to belong to junior son of Ivan Kalita. In the second half of the 15th century, it became state’s possession.

In 1565, a special stone edifice was built for the Posolsky Prikaz due to its high representative status. It was situated from the north-east side of the Archangel Cathedral, in front of the Ivan the Great Belfry.

In 1591 during the rule of Tsar Boris Godunov, the construction of other Prikaz Offices in stone had alsostarted. Until recently, the majority of researchers concur in the opinion thatduring this period the Ambassadorial Chamber was totally reconstructed and became called the Posolsky Prikaz. On Kremlin plans of the late 16th-early 17th centuries, the building of the Posolsky Prikaz locks in from the west the north wing of the U-shaped two-storeyed Prikaz’ housing that stands along the south edge of the Borovitsky Hill and its inner court faces the east façade of the Archangel Cathedral. It was thought that on this plan the new building of the Posolsky Prikaz was shown. However, no manuscript data regarding its reconstruction in that year was found and, according to contemporary researchers, the preserved graphic images of that building prove that this was an edifice of 1565, since its architectural forms are more characteristic for the mid-16th century buildings.

The architecture of two buildings that came down to us thanks to the drawings of one author is identical and, judging by other depicted buildings, is quite realistic. The façade composition resembles of the 16th-century Italian palaces. An open gallery-balcony, surrounded by the arcade, girds the lower floor. The pillars are decorated with profiled panels, the arches have keystones, the partition walls host decorative round niches. A band between tiersand lower part of heavy entablement are also decorated with panels. Semicircular windows of the second floor are framed with cornice on helical uprights. On the upper part of the  frieze between sculptural consoles, there are floral rosettes, joint by a ribbon-garland. The cornice finishes with a balustrade. These decorative forms are specific of Italian Renaissance, however, their non-classical rendering shows the original development of Italianizing architecture in the Muscovia of the first quarter and middle of the 16th century. The earlier buildings in the Kremlin, erected by Italian architects, served an example for it. The Posolsky Prikaz was almost the most sumptuous Kremlin edifice of that time.

By the end of the 1660s, the building of the Posolsky Prikaz became strongly decrepit. The same had happened to other Prikaz chambers. Many services were moved to other places due to the emergency state of these constructions.

In 1675, Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich ordered to erect new buildings for the Prikazes according to the drawing acquired from the Posolsky Prikaz. Besides, the order stated to build the latter with high priority.

In the 1675-1680s, instead of the dilapidated buildings new government agencies (Prisutstvennye mesta) were erected. Among them there was the Posolsky Prikaz, which situated at the southeastern corner of the Archangel Cathedral. In 1698, it was reconstructed by masonry apprentice O. Startsev and was distinct by a finer hewing of the façade. In 1702, the Posolsky Prikaz suffered from fire and was then restored according to the drawings ofarchitect G. Ustinov. Judging by the survived author’s drawing, its façades were capped by a balustrade with towering belvedere behind it. The belvederewas crowned by a decorative superstructure with a finery in the form of a two-headed eagle, globe above it and maquettes of two cannons installed on each side. Figured octangular roofing covered the outer porch with wide stairs, helical uprights of the Corinthian order supported the cornice.  Above all, this drawing is of high interest since it is one of the earliest architectural drawings made at scales.

In 1772, the Posolsky Prikaz was dismantled together with other buildings due to the construction of a new palace upon the project of V. I. Bazhenov.

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Posolsky Prikaz (on the right)Fragment of the ‘Kremlenagrad’ Plan with the 16th-century Posolsky PrikazFragment of the Moscow Plan with the 16th-century Posolsky Prikaz in the Kremlin
Posolsky Prikaz (on the right)ПDesign for the reconstruction of the Posolsky Prikaz building, plan and façadeSouth Panorama of the Kremlin after Prikaz Buildings were Dismantled for Further Construction of a Palace upon the Project of V. Bazhenov