In the 16th century, the state management became complicated. The grown administrative stuff demanded special buildings to host it. Under Ivan the Terrible’s rule, the clerks’ offices (dyachy izby) were placed on boyars’ courts. With the time, the Prikazes (offices) were formed: the Posolsky Prikaz (ambassadorial office), the Razryadny Prikaz (higher military and civil administration personnel), the Pomestny Prikaz (domestic office), the Streletsky Prikaz (riflemen’s office), Razboiniy Prikaz (criminal police), Yamskoy Prikaz (coachmen’s office) and others.

Offices of different Prikazy (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. Up to 1564-1565 all buildings remained wooden.

Under the rule of Boris Godunov in 1590-1591, a large stone U-shaped edifice with two storeys and common roof was erected on the south side of the Ivanovskaya Square instead of separate wooden buildings.

New edifice is clearly seen on the Kremlin plans of the late 16th- early 17th centuries. It occupied almost a square area with walls of around 63 metres long and around 13 metres wide.

The northern wing that spread along the Spasskaya street adjoined the east façade of the Posolsky Prikaz, which had been built earlier. The south wing was situated along the brow of the Borovitsky Hill. The inner court opened towards the altars of the Archangel Cathedral. A lane separated the transversal site of the Prikazes from the court of boyar F.I. Mstislavsly. There has survived a schematic drawing of the mid-17th century with the location of all Prikaz services in the building (il.4). Two floors hosted the Prikaz services and each Prikaz had its separate entrance from outside.

The drawings from the album of Swedish engineer Erich Palmquist who arrived in Moscow in 1674 depict the fragments of these Prikazes. Their architecture is much simpler than the one of the Posolsky Prikaz. However, the Italianizing motifs interpreted by Russian constructors are also present here, especially in the building that was close to the Posolsky Prikaz. Obviously, the drawings were made by the author, when the dismantling of the Godunov’s buildings was in process, since some of its part lacked.

By the end of the 1660s, the old Prikazes could not answer the increased demands of state administrative services, besides the buildings became strongly decrepit. As a result, some Prikazes were located in other buildings of the Kremlin and outside it.

In 1675, Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich ordered to erect new Prikazes buildings instead of the dilapidated from the south side of the Ivanovskaya Square along the brow of the Kremlin Hill. The construction was continued under Tsar Fyodor Alexeevich, who ordered in 1677 to add the second storey to the building.

Finished only in 1680, the two-storeyed stone edifice stretched for 130 metres from the Furriery Chamber that was situated at the south side of the Archgangel Cathedral towards the Spasskie Gates. Its width was around 27 metres. Judging by the survived image of this construction on the early 18th-century Kremlin panorama, it consisted of separate buildings of different height, each of which had its roof. In 1681-1683, two churches were built into this row: Churches of St Alexander Nevsky and Wonderworkers of Chernigov. Both altars were transferred from different namesake temples that had been earlier situated on the Ivanovskaya Square.

The entrances to the Prikazes were from the Ivanovskaya Square. Open, far-protruding stairs with porches rose to the upper floors. By 1680, 7 buildings with 28 chambers were constructed. Later, additional site was built at an angle from the west side.

The architecture of the buildings of government agencies (Prisutstvennye mesta) was relatively simple and modest according to their business purposes. Door and window frames were decorated with plat-bands typical for the second half of the 17th century.  A chain of various-storeychambers was joint by figured intermediate band that at some parts turned into a fencing of open porches and terraces situated at the same level. The central stairs had platforms covered with low pavilions.

By the mid-18th century, the Prikazes were partially reconstructed according to the project of D. Ukhtomsky.

In 1771, the whole complex of Prikazes buildings was destroyed due to the supposed construction of new Kremlin palace after the project by V. Bazhenov. The deinstallation works were guided by architect M.F. Kazakov.

Fragment of the ‘Kremlenagrad’ Plan with the PrikazesFragment of the Moscow Plan with the 16th-century Prikazes in the KremlinFragment of the Moscow Plan with the 16th-century Prikazes in the Kremlin
Plan of the late 16th-century PrikazesBuildings of the PrikazesBuildings of the Prikazes on the Ivanovskaya Square in the late 17th century; plans, façadesSouth Panorama of the Kremlin after Prikazes Buildings were Dismantled for Further Construction of a Palace upon the Project of V. Bazhenov