Arseny Morozov’s mansion in the Manueline style


Morozov’s mansion (now the House of Receptions of the Government of the Russian Federation; from 1959 until the end of the 1990s – the House of Friendship with the Peoples of Foreign Countries) – a mansion in the center of Moscow, on Vozdvizhenka Street (house number 16), built in 1895-1899 by architect Viktor Mazyrin commissioned by millionaire Arseny Abramovich Morozov. The building, which combines elements of Art Nouveau and eclecticism, is a unique example of bright and exotic stylization in the neo-Mauritanian spirit for Moscow architecture.

Before the construction of the modern building, the huge equestrian circus of Karl Markus Ginne stood on this site. In 1892, the wooden part of the circus building burned down; according to one version, arson was the cause of the fire. The impresario could not find funds to restore the building, and the site, together with the remaining buildings, was put up for sale. In the same year, it was acquired by Varvara Alekseevna Morozova, whose property was located in the neighborhood (modern No. 14), and soon transferred the plot to her son, Arseniy.

Arseny Abramovich Morozov (1873-1908) belonged to the wealthy merchant family of the Morozovs and was the cousin of Savva Morozov. Arseny’s mother, Varvara Alekseevna, is the daughter of the famous merchant Alexei Ivanovich Khludov. In the early 1890s, Arseny Morozov, together with Viktor Mazyrin, his friend, traveled to Spain and Portugal. The millionaire, as well as the architect, was indelibly impressed by the Pena Palace in Sintra, built in the middle of the 19th century and combining elements of Spanish-Moorish medieval architecture and the national Manueline style.

The Manueline (Portuguese: estilo manuelino), occasionally known as Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese architectural style originating in the 16th century, during the Portuguese Renaissance and Age of Discoveries. Manueline architecture incorporates maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. This innovative style synthesizes aspects of Late Gothic Flamboyant architecture with original motifs and influences of the Plateresque, Mudéjar, Italian, and Flemish architecture. It marks the transition from Late Gothic to Renaissance. The construction of churches and monasteries in Manueline was largely financed by proceeds of the lucrative spice trade with Africa and India.

The construction of the house in Moscow was carried out during 1895-1899. Even at the construction stage, it became the object of derisive Muscovites, gossip, rumors and critical newspaper publications. Public opinion took the exotic mansion disapprovingly, as an expression of extreme eccentricity.

After the October Revolution, the house became the headquarters of the anarchists, but not for long. In May 1918, the First working mobile troupe of the Proletkult Theater moved here. The poets Sergei Yesenin and Sergei Klychkov lived in the house. In the early 1920s, Sergei Eisenstein collaborated with the proletarians, who staged several avant-garde performances within the walls of the Morozov mansion. The theater occupied the building until 1928.

In the late 1920s, the building was handed over to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. From 1928 to 1940, the Japanese embassy was located here; in 1941-1945 – the services of the British Embassy and the editorial office of the English newspaper “British Ally”; since 1952 for two years – the embassy of India.

In 1959, the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (SSOD) became the owner of the building; the mansion was called the House of Friendship with the Peoples of Foreign Countries or, in everyday life, the House of Friendship of Peoples. Conferences, meetings with foreign cultural figures, film screenings were held in the house.

Closed for public.

Address: Vozdvizhenka, 16, building 1, Moscow. Nearest metro: Arbatskaya (Filyovskaya Line), Arbatskaya (Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line), Biblioteka imeni Lenina.

Nearest attractions: Arbat street, New Arbat AvenueChurch of Simeon Stolpnik on PovarskayaKhudozhestvenny cinema, Vozdvizhenka Street, Gogol boulevard, Shakhovsky – Krause – Osipovsky’s mansion.

See also Architecture of MoscowPalaces and most historic buildings of Moscow.

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