“Old-Russian House” development company: build a Russian-style house of your dreams!

Have you ever dreamed of living in a fairy-tale Russian-style house but found traditional ‘izbushkas’ too uncomfortable and out-of-date?   Well, apparently, they aren’t anymore!  Today’s development and construction companies will build you the house of your dreams, a modern day izbushka (a log house) or terem (tower chamber) with all the modern conveniences and spacious interiors.  Consider, for instance, a  development  company based in Moscow, “Old-Russian House” (Древнерусский дом). These guys design fantastic Russian style houses in stone, wood and mixed material inspired by the longstanding Russian wooden building tradition (e.g. the Russian North), Russian Revival style of the late 19th century, architectural design projects by famous 19-20th c. Russian artists like Victor Vasnetsov, and even fairy-tale images!  They will do the exterior carving and customized interior decoration. And like that was not enough, they even offer a special service of selling and restoring the old (18-19th cc) log houses of the Russian North!!  Aren’t we modern people lucky of what?! (provided you can afford this luxury of course ;) )

Official website: www.kelohouse.ru

Photos from the company's website 

  • Old Russian House development company. A project of a house

  • Old Russian House development company. A project of a house

  • Old Russian House development company. An interior option

  • Old Russian House development company. An interior option

  • Old Russian House development company. An interior option

  • Old Russian House development company. A project of a house

Wooden masterpieces of the past: the Kostroma wooden architecture museum

Transfiguration cathedral, 1713, Kostroma region (reconstructed)

One of the largest open-air museums of Russian wooden architecture  is located in the town of Kostroma, around 330 km to the north from Moscow.  It hosts an impressive collection of  secular and religious wooden constructions from various parts of the Kostroma region and is one of the key heritage sights in the area.

There are several open air museums of wooden architecture in Russia, some of the most well-known include those in Kizhi, Irkutsk, Velikiy Novgorod, and Suzdal.  The Kostroma museum, with its size and variety of sample items,  certainly stands out.

The museum was founded in the 1960s.   It brings together unique pieces from different regional villages and of different times, the most ancient item, the  church of the Most Holy Mother of God, is dated 1552!   They are all clustered around a small river (Igumenka), imitating an old village. Among the many samples are peasant log huts, spacious and lavishly decorated merchant houses, bath houses on piles, windmills, tiny ancient chapels, storehouses, and a forge.  Most houses have excellent reconstructed interiors.  You can book guided tours around the museum or just enjoy a slow walk around the “village”.  The place also hosts craftsmen centers where you can have workshops (e.g. pottery) and get some excellent crafts.

Where: Prosveshenia street 1A, Kostroma Russia

Official website:   http://kostrsloboda.ru/ 

Photos by: Lyubov Zolotova 

  • Chapygina house, 19th c.

  • A rare sample of a round wooden holiday chapel, 19th c.

  • Lipatov house, 1857

  • Peasant's household items

  • The Tsipelyova house, 19th cent. Made of centennial logs

  • Tarasov house, 19th c. Old decorated trunks

  • Tarasov house, 19th cent. Interiors

  • Pottery for sale at the local pottery shop

Wooden Moscow: explore some of the remaining wooden houses of past times in the Russian capital

An old wooden house off Arbat street. Early 19th century. Address: Maliy Vlasyevski per. 5 bld.2 (Малый Власьевский пер. д. 5 стр. 2)

Whereas many European capitals look fairly similar to what they used a 100 years ago,  19th century Moscow looked very different from today!  The reason being, it was predominantly wooden, with plenty of orchards, fruit and vegetable gardens.  Are there any wooden buildings surviving from those times in Moscow?  Suprisingly, yes!  There are over a hundred of original 19th- early 20th century wooden buildings (some of them date back to as early as the beginning of the 19th century!) with cute ornaments and that touching look of the old times.  Below is a handful of such buildings within the Garden ring area. Find out more at  http://mosday.ru/photos/gallery.php?file=wooden_houses&size=3&alt=10

  • The famous wooden house of Sytin, early 19th century. Very central location, right off Tverskaya street. Address: Sytinski per. 5 (Сытинский пер., д. 5)

  • An old wooden house in Zamoskvorechye. Address: 3rd Monetchikovi per., 9 ( Монетчиковский 3-й пер. д.9)

  • The house of Moskatinyev. Designed by N. Morozov. Late 19th century. Address: Chernishevskogo per., 8 (пер. Чернышевского, д. 8)

  • An old wooden house of M. Pogodin, 1856. Address: Pogodinskaya street, 12A (ул. Погодинская, д. 12А)

  • An old wooden building in Khamovniki area. Address: Bolshoi Savvinski per., 8, bld.1 (Саввинский Б. пер. д.8 с.1)

  • A wooden house, early 20th century. In perfect condition. Address: Shipok street, 3 (ул. Щипок, д. 3)

A Reconstructed Wooden Palace: The Tower-Chamber in Chukhloma, Kostroma region

This magnificent wooden palace was built in late 19th century by a local entrepreneur Sazonov for his second wife born in a nearby village.  The palace was designed by  Ivan Ropet whose design projects were a hit at the world architecture exhibition in Paris, 1887 (you can check out his beautiful projects at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yiJ4xaWu_M ).  Ropet’s wooden projects in neo-Russian style brought him fame after prestigious exhibitions in Paris and Chicago, however, there are literally a handful of the actual buildings that he designed surviving today.  Among them – the Sazonov palace in Chukhloma.

This fantastic building was nationalized in 1917 and served as a library,  a ‘house of culture’, as well as housed local village administration. It was neglected in the 80s and began to deteriorate rapidly.  It was rediscovered in the 2000s. A  group of activists began  clearing it up  as it was choked with trees. 

Later the house was acquired by Andrei Pavlichenkov, who funded its reconstruction.   He’s now working on the landscape design, building a guest house and is planning to open a museum.  The opening is scheduled for 2016. 

Where: Ilynskoye/ Ostashevo villages, Chukhlomskoi district, Kostroma region, Russia

Those of you who are adventurists at heart, here’s how you can get there:

Follow the M8 highway from Moscow to Yaroslavl’. Make a turn for Kostroma, then, once you’ve reached Kostroma, follow the signs for Galich (Галич).  When you reach Chukhloma (Чухлома),  follow the signs for Vvedenskoye (Введенское). You need to drive 25 km to Vvedenskoye, then make a right turn for Ilyinskoye (Ильинское) . Another 7 km to Ilyinskoye, then make a left turn (there will be a church). 







  • After the reconstruction, Sazonov wooden palace, Chukhloma, Kostroma region

  • A 19th century surviving photo of the Sazonov wooden palace, Chukhloma


  • Sazonov, the first owner, with his wife and local villagers, 1908, next to his house

  • Before the reconstruction, Sazonov wooden palace, Chukhloma


  • Before the reconstruction, Sazonov wooden palace, Chukhloma

  • Ivan Ropet's design project of the wooden palace, 1887


  • An element of decor, Sazonov wooden Palace, Chukhloma


  • An element of decor, Sazonov wooden Palace, Chukhloma

  • Before the reconstruction, Sazonov wooden palace, Chukhloma


Russian secular buildings of XVI-XVII centuries: The Boyar Chambers

The chambers on Prechistenka, Moscow XVI-XVII cc

When we think about the Russian medieval architecture, the images that come up are,  of course, churches and monasteries.  The secular architecture does not immediately come to mind.  Indeed, there are not many secular buildings preseved from those times. You will certainly see their most impressive clusters in the Kremlin. But what about the rest of Moscow? They are not numerous, but they are still there, and they're precious. 

Over centuries, the Russians preferred wood for their houses, not only because it's cheap and in abundance, but because it's warm and cozy.  Stone buildings were a status thing, and only belonged to the boyars (the Russian medieval aristocracy),  kuptsi (the Russian merchants), and, of course, the Tsar. These houses were a pain to heat up during severe winters, and just like religious ceremonies were often conducted in wooden 'winter' churches in winter time (and in 'summer' stone churches during summer), so did the boyars and kuptsi preferred to move to their wooden houses in winter.  

The stone chambers that we can still see in some parts of Moscow and other Russian cities are a joy to the eye. There is a word in Russian, 'rukotvorniy', meaning 'made, created by hand' , and that's what these buildings are. They are usually small, two-three storey at most, and they cost a fortune to build.  They have small windows - glass was very expensive, and specular stone was often used instead. But their forms, their decor,  their imperfections are touching. 

You can check out more photos of the Moscow boyar chambers (pictures taken at different times) at www.oldmos.ru/old/photo/tag/%D0%BF%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8B 

and www.ecology-mef.narod.ru/mos/villa/palati_volkova.htm



Chambers on the Bolshaya Nikitskaya street, Moscow XVI-XVII cc

Ptizyn chambers on Nikiloyamskaya street, Moscow XVII-XVIII c

Tiny chambers in Kozhevnicheskaya sloboda, Moscow XVI-XVII cc

The Volkov chambers, B.Kharitonyevski pereulok, Moscow, XVII c.

The art of wood carving: Russian nalichniki (window cases)

The window cases of Ryazan', nalilchniki.com

Russian wooden carving is a unique national art.  Dating back to the earliest Slavic times, it's one-of-a-kind, and it's very fragile.  Among its many kinds the NALICHNIKI (or window cases) stand out in particular.  Originally, the carved decorations were meant to protect the house from evil spirits that could come from the outside through doors and windos, so these entring frontiers were lavishly decorated with strong pagan protective symbols.  With centuries they have evolved in elaborate designs, absolutely unique for every region. 

Ivan Hafizov, a Russian photographer, set up a virtual museum of nalichniki from all over Russia. He has traveled around the old towns and villages, taking pictures of the most typical examples of local window cases on traditional wooden houses.  He's got collections from hundreds of Russian cities. You can visit his FB page https://www.facebook.com/nalichniki/  as well as the virtual museum http://nalichniki.com/  and enjoy beautiful puzzle-like pictures.  The website is in English and Russian.