The Episcopal (Faceted) Chamber is an architectural monument in the Moscow Kremlin ensemble, one of the oldest civil buildings in Moscow. It was built in 1487-1491 by the decree of Ivan III and Italian architects Mark Fryazin and Pietro Antonio Solari designed it. The building was used for ceremonial dinners, meetings and ceremonial receptions at the wedding of the kingdom.
Architect Mark Fryazin founded The Faceted Chamber in 1487 on the site of an ancient gridiron for ceremonial receptions in the Grand Duke’s Palace of Ivan III. Pietro Antonio Solari completed the construction in 1491. The building got its name from the eastern facade, trimmed with diamond rust (under the “facets”), characteristic of Italian Renaissance architecture, for example, the Diamond Palace in Ferrara (Italy).
Next to the Faceted Chamber, the Middle Golden Chamber was built. In front of it was the Upper Porch (Front Passages), to which three stairs led from Cathedral Square:
The red porch – near the wall of the Faceted Chamber, served for the solemn exits of the king.
The middle staircase (from the end of the 17th century – the Golden Staircase or the Golden Grid) – led to the entrance hall of the Middle Golden Chamber, through which the ambassadors of non-Christian states entered the palace.
The porch of the Cathedral of the Annunciation served as the entrance to the palace from Cathedral Square.
Between the stairs of the Faceted and Middle Golden Chambers were the Red Gates, which led from the courtyard of the palace to the square.
Behind the Middle Golden Chamber stood the Dining log hut, dismantled in 1681. To the south of it stood the Embankment Chamber, which had existed, like the Middle Golden Chamber, until 1753.
Since the 16th century, meetings of the Boyar Duma, Zemsky Sobors, solemn feasts, festivities in honor of the conquest of Kazan in 1552, the victory at Poltava in 1709, the conclusion of the Treaty of Nystad with Sweden in 1721 have been held in the Palace of Facets. In 1653, it hosted the last Zemsky Sobor, after which Ukraine became part of the Muscovite State.
Coronations in the Assumption Cathedral took place until the end of the 19th century, despite the transfer of the capital to St. Petersburg at the beginning of the 18th century. In April 1730, for the coronation of Empress Anna Ioannovna, more than five hundred items were transferred from the Treasury Order to the chamber.
As of 2022, the Faceted Chamber is part of the Grand Kremlin Palace complex, which is the government residence of the president. It hosts meetings of heads of state, award ceremonies and other state events. The residence of the patriarch is in the basement of the chamber.
The building of the chamber is two-storied: a square throne room with an area of 495 m², covered with four cross vaults resting on a central pillar occupy the upper floor, and the lower story is a basement. From the west, the hall adjoins the room of the Holy vestibule.
The entrance to the Faceted Chamber from Cathedral Square is called the Red Porch, is a remake of the 20th century and is built on a historical site. Two double-headed eagles are installed above its side pediments, and stone lions are on the spans of the railings. A small extension is attached to the northern facade, in which there is a staircase.
In the 16th century, the walls and vaults in the interior of the chamber were painted with frescoes. In 1668, Simon Ushakov resumed painting. He also compiled a detailed inventory of plots and deciphered the inscriptions in 1672. Under Peter the Great, the murals were destroyed, the vaults were whitewashed, and the walls were covered with crimson velvet with embroidered golden double-headed eagles. In this form, the chamber was preserved until 1881, when the Palekh icon painters, the Belousov brothers, resumed painting per the inventory of Simon Ushakov.
You can visit it only as part of group tours organized by travel agencies. Usually, their program consists of visiting the ceremonial halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the building of the Terem Palace and, in fact, the Faceted Chamber. The duration of the tour of these objects, as a rule, is 1.5 hours. Tickets usually cost about 5,000 rubles on average.
Places to visit inside the Kremlin ensemble