Table of contents:

Russia in the spotlight of foreign architects
Russia in the spotlight of foreign architects

While studying Valerian Kiprianov's book "The Picturesque History of Russian Architecture", I noticed that he did not mention Russian architects, or rather architects, as they were called earlier., were, but were foreigners invited for the construction?

The word "architect", which we now use, and which is used to designate architects in all European countries, comes from the Greek "architect" - chief, senior carpenter, builder. It turns out that the Greeks were the very first builders in Europe. If we start to delve into the topic, it turns out that Greece is not such an ancient formation. In any case, there is no such name on the old maps. For example, on the Fra Mauro map:


Fragment of the Fra Mauro map, 1459.

The map reads: Italy, Macedonia (attributed by Mavro Orbini, i.e. Mavar Orbin to the Slavic countries), Albania, Rasia, Bulgaria, Croatsia, Ungaria (Hungary), inhabited in his time by the Slavs. But what is the 15th (Fra Mauro) or 16th (Mavro Orbini) centuries, even in the 19th century they remembered the Illyrians living in the territory of modern Greece and the Etruscans - in the territory of modern Italy, who, according to information from European sources, the Romans and adopted the art of engineering and construction.

And it would not be surprising that the West European Slavs help their eastern brothers with construction. But in reality it turns out that, most likely, if not all, then most of these foreign architects were local in fact, at least in their "homeland" for some reason nothing is known about them. But everything is in order.

Foreign architects 11-14 centuries

The first mention of foreign architectsrefers to the 11th century. It is believed that the Church of St. Sophia in Kiev was built Greek architects and decorated Greek artists:

“Another building, no less famous among the ancient monuments of Russia, is the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev, built in the years from 1017 to 1037year by the Grand Duke Yaroslav Vladimirovich, to commemorate the victory over the Pechenegs. Some of the central parts of this church have survived to this day in their primitive state. The method of building the walls and pillars of this temple, also erected Greek architects, is similar to that which was adopted for the church of Dima. Judging by what was left to us with the decorations of this temple of Yaroslav, it should be assumed that its entire interior was decorated with mosaics. Saint Olympus of the Caves, known for his time as an exemplary painter and master of mosaics, worked on these decorations from Greek architects ».


Reconstruction of the original view of St. Sophia of Kiev

“The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod was founded in 1045 by Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich, also made Greek architects, is one of the most perfect designs Byzantine style … With regard to the method of construction and the use of materials, it differs little from the churches in Kiev"


View of the Hagia Sophia in Novgorod

Italian architect Aristotle Fioraventi, 15th century

But since the names of these architects have not survived, it is difficult to verify now. Starting from the 15th century, surnames appear:

“The coming to power of Ivan III (1440 -1505) opened new touches in art, architecture, both spiritual and secular, made a sensible progress, as we can judge from the monuments left to us. John III summoned bricklayers from Pskov who studied their craft under the guidance of German craftsmen; he summoned from Venice the famous architect and scientist Aristotle Fioraventi, a native of Bologna. The latter taught Muscovites to make bricks larger and stronger than those they have used until now, to make lime denser and stronger, to use bricks for laying walls, not rubble, and to leave the latter only for foundations, tie the walls with iron crampons, build brick vaults, fashionable clay decorations, in a word, build buildings with greater straightness and precision."

It seems that Aristotle Fioraventi(1415-1486) was really famous in his homeland before arriving in Russia, though not as an architect, but more as an engineer. He was able to move a 25-meter tower, with a 5-meter foundation, weighing about 400 tons, more than 13 meters to the side. There is information about this in Russian and Italian. At the age of 60, he arrived in Russia and lived there for another 20 years. He took part in the construction of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Moscow, and in general in the reconstruction and construction of the Kremlin, and possibly even the arrangement of the storage for the library of Ivan the Terrible.


Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin

Foreign architects Fryaziny, 15-16 centuries

Next comes a whole galaxy of Fryazin architects: Aleviz Fryazin Stary, Aleviz Fryazin Novy, Anton Fryazin, Bon Fryazin, Ivan Fryazin, Mark Fryazin and Petr Fryazin (several people are known under this name). Sources claim. That the old Russian "fryaz" means "foreigner", "stranger", therefore, apparently, these foreigners received one surname for all. All of them worked at about the same time under Tsars Ivan III and Vasily III, from 1485 to 1536. These were mainly churches, temples and cathedrals. In addition, the architect Mark Fryazin built the Faceted Chamber, Aleviz Fryazin - the Kremlin palace (tower)

Aleviz Fryazin Old


Trinity Tower of the Moscow Kremlin

In Italy, nothing is known about Aleviz Fryazin the Oldbesides the fact that he was an active Italian architect during the Renaissance in the Russian state. In other European countries it is the same. The same applies to Aleviz Fryazin Novy.

Aleviz Fryazin New


Archangel Cathedral in Moscow

Italian side information:

“Aloìsio Nuovo, known in Russian as Aleviz Novy or Aleviz Fryazin, was an Italian Renaissance architect who was invited by Tsar Ivan III to work in Moscow. Some Italian scholars tried to identify him with the Venetian sculptor Alevizio Lamberti da Montagnano, but did not find agreement."

About Anton Fryazinealso nothing is known, except that he worked in Russia. Italian and French sources report about him, referring to a Russian-language source - Zemtsov S. M.., Architect of Moscow, M., Moskovsky Rabochiy, 1981, 44-46 p. Architects of Moscow in the second half of the 15th and first half of the 16th century:

"Antonio Frjazin, possiblethe Italian name Antonio Gilardi or Gislardi was an Italian architect and diplomat who worked in Russia from 1469 to 1488.

The nickname "Fryazin" (that is, Franco) was given by the ancient inhabitants of Muscovy to all those who came from Southern Europe, in particular, Italians. Little information was found about this architect: it is known that he was from Vicenza, in 1469 he arrived in Moscow, where in 1485 he participated in the construction of the first new tower of the Moscow Kremlin, completely made of brick (Taynitskaya tower), and for three years later, in 1488, he worked on the construction of the Sviblova Tower, later renamed the Vodovzvodnaya Tower. There are hypotheses according to which in the annals of ancient Russia, under the name of Anton Fryazin, in fact, two different people are indicated."

Italian sources do not report anything about Bon Fryazin. A French source, referring to the "Complete collection of Russian chronicles", reports:

« Historical sources do not provide any information about where he came from or what he did before his stay in the Grand Duchy of Muscovy.… There are documents about this only regarding the construction of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Moscow Kremlin. It was the tallest building in Moscow until the nineteenth century"


Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Moscow Kremlin

Mark Fryazinknown in Italy:

“Marco Ruffo, known as Marko Fryazin, was an Italian architect working in Moscow in the 15th century. It is believed that Marco Ruffo worked in Moscow at the invitation of Ivan III between 1485 and 1495. He designed several Kremlin towers, including Beklemishevskaya, Spasskaya and Nikolskaya. In 1491, together with Pietro Antonio Solari, Ruffo completed the construction of the Palazzo delle Fazett. At the end of the 15th century, Marco Ruffo worked as a military architect in Milan, where he was contacted by the Ambassador of the Republic of Venice on behalf of Ivan III. This is how the journey to Russia and the construction of the Kremlin began."

Truth, this information is also taken from a Russian source: "Accademia moscovita di architettura", RUSSIAN URBAN ARTS, Storijzdat, 1993

There is information about him in French, the source is again Russian: S. M. Zemtsov / Zemtsov S. M., architectes de Moscou / Architect of Moscow (book), Moscou, Moskovsky Rabochiy, 1981, 59-68 p. "Architects of Moscow in the second half of the 15th and first half of the 16th century."

Peter Antonin Fryazinwas known in Italy not only from Russian-language sources. The years of his life and other details of his biography are known:

“Pietro Antonio Solari or Solaro, known in Russia as Peter Antonin Fryazin, was an Italian sculptor and architect, originally from the Canton of Ticino. He worked as a sculptor in Certosa di Pavia, Duomo Milan and Ca Grande. Later, he participated in the renovation of several churches in Milan: the Church of Santa Maria del Carmin, the Church of Santa Maria Incoronata and the Church of San Bernardino-Allee Monache. Since 1487 he has been working in Moscow, summoned by Tsar Ivan III Vasilyevich to build new defensive towers for the Kremlin, an ongoing work also under the leadership of Tsar Vasily III. He died in Moscow in May 1493."

Those. he was a sculptor in Italy. And he participated in the reconstruction, but he did not create anything, in the sense from scratch. In the Kremlin, he is credited with the construction of 6 towers: Borovitskaya, Konstantino-Eleninskaya, Spasskaya, Nikolskaya, Senatskaya and Uglova Arsenalnaya.


Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin

O second Petra Fryazin, unlike the first, practically nothing is known:

“Pietro Francesco was an Italian architect working in Russia in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Also known as Pietro Francesco Fryazin, he worked under the rule of Tsar Vasily III. According to the few chronicles mentioning him, the architect arrived in Moscow in 1494. Between 1509 and 1511, he was engaged in the construction of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin under construction, the most important object he worked on, and which was completed in 1515."

The information from this Italian source is again a translation of a Russian-language source. Here I mean this entry in the annals:

"In the summer of 7017 (1509), the Tsar and Grand Duke Vasily Ivanovich brought Pyotr Frazin from Moscow to Nizhny Novgrad, and ordered him to dig a moat where the city's stone wall and towers would be, in addition to the Dmitrievskaya tower."


Dmitrievskaya tower of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin

It is true that the chronicle speaks of the ditch, and not of the tower itself … But these are already insignificant details?

Third Peter FryazinItalians do not mention it at all (probably, they are tired of translating Russian-language sources). The French mention it, referring to the Russian-language source Les fortifications moyenageuses de type bastion en Russie / Kirpichnikov A. N. “Bastion-type fortresses in medieval Russia”. - Monuments of culture. New discoveries. Yearbook. 1978:

“Petrok Maly or Petr Maloy Fryazin (Russian: Petrok Maly) was an Italian architect active in Russia in the 1530s, especially in the area of fortifications. He was nicknamed "Fryazin", like other Italian immigrant architects.

The chronicles speak of Petrok as an "architect". This word means that he has a high status. According to the chronicle, he is the author of the following buildings:

in 1532 the Church of the Resurrection in the Moscow Kremlin, adjacent to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower (completed without it in 1552 and renamed the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ), in 1534 an earthen fortress in Moscow was called China, in 1535 the stone walls of Kitay-Gorod, in 1534 -1535 biennium earthen fortress in Sebezh, in 1536 another earthen fortress in Pronsk, Ryazan region, Petrok is also credited with the construction of the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye."


Kitaygorodskaya wall, Moscow

Kiprianov mentions other foreign architects in his book, without naming their names:

“After the fire of 1591, during the reign of Fedor, Moscow was rebuilt by Italian and German architects and their Russian students. Instead of old houses, without chimneys, wealthy people began to build reliable houses with a porch, a heated vestibule and two, three or even more rooms."

Retreat: Dutch ovens

Still, it is very surprising that there were no chimneys in Russia until the end of the 16th century. And that Italians and Germans came to Russia to build stoves with chimneys? I met this information in various sources, but it is still hard to believe. The climate in Germany, and especially in Italy, is much milder than in Russia. And there fireplaces are better known than stoves. This is what cooking food looked like in Europe in the 18th century:


Kitchen interior with two women at work, Hendrik Numann

It is an open hearth, essentially a fireplace, with a straight chimney. Later, cooking ovens appeared, attached to fireplaces:


openluchtmuseum Het Hoogeland

This is a 19th century Dutch kitchen interior. Apparently, such metal furnaces were called "Dutch" in Russia. An excerpt from the book about "Furnace craftsmanship", written by the architect Vasily Sobolshchikov in 1865:

“But in the old days, ovens were not done differently, as with wide deviations, and the Dutch did them here. That is why our indoor ovens are called Dutch. Should be The Dutch worked well: they made retreats and their ovens melted for 40 and 50 years.… People learn every skill one from another and our old stove-makers faithfully learned from the Dutch, and their children, as they began to work worse and worse, then they reached the disgrace that we now see. In our time, boys who help craftsmen learn to work with stoves, and what will they learn? Of course, our current masters, who were also boys and also looked at the work of the elders, learned the same thing. So we all take over from each other and the stove-makers, adopting from each other, have finally come to the point that Our masters not only did not make the best ones themselves, but they didn’t even see anyone else making the most ordinary stoves well.

…. As a boy, he saw, of course, how the master, his teachers worked. They splashed water on the brick and it splashes. It would be curious to see how the Dutch did it, but one must think that they did it differently, because their ovens melted for a long time, and our time, the oven does not serve sometimes for three years. "

Or was the climate so different that it was colder in Europe than in Russia? Or did you heat the premises in a different way? In the 19th century, it was not even customary to make vestibules in rich houses and public buildings; they were added later, already in the 20th century. Although even earlier there were hallways in the houses:

“Seni - the outer, colder part of a residential building, at the entrance, a hallway; in a manor house, behind the porch, there is a hallway, there is a vestibule, behind them the front; the peasants have spacious entrance halls or a bridge directly adjacent to the hut, or separate the two halves. " (from the explanatory dictionary of V. Dahl)

Those. it turns out that at first they built the vestibules, then stopped, and then started again? In Europe, houses are also being built with vestibules. Although the heating process has become much easier compared to previous centuries. And the average January temperature, for example, in the Netherlands remains positive.

Foreign architects of St. Petersburg

Domenico Trezzini

Back to our foreign architects. The first architect who worked in St. Petersburg was Domenico Trezzini, or in other words Andrei Yakimovich Trezin (1670-1734), architect and engineer, Italian, born in Switzerland. V Italy, this architect is not known … The information of the Italian Wikipedia about him fits in three lines: that he was Swissarchitect and urban planner. He studied in Rome, then was summoned by Peter 1 to St. Petersburg in 1703. to develop a general plan for the new capital of the Russian Empire. Swiss Wikipedia does not report about him nothing at all. German Wikipedia reports that he, probably, studied in Rome. And further, that Peter I invited him to St. Petersburg. About labor activity before immigration to Russia - not a word. The English Wikipedia also reports that he probably studied in Rome. And subsequently, when he worked in Denmark, he was invited to Peter I, among other architects, to design buildings in the new Russian capital, St. Petersburg. Who did he work in Denmark and what he designed there - not a word … Danish Wikipedia does not even mention such a person.


Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the most famous works by Domenico Trezzini

Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli

Everything seems to be clear and understandable with the architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700-1771). Except for one nuance. It is believed that at the age of 15 he came to Russia from Italy together with his father, a sculptor who was invited by Peter 1. But his father, who, by the way, was also called Bartolomeo Rastrelli, was not better known in his homeland. Italian sources do not report anything about him.… It is reported by the English Wikipedia, citing Russian-language sources:

“In Russia, Rastrelli initially worked primarily as an architect. Participated in the planning of Vasilievsky Island and in the construction of the palace in Strelna. He also proposed his designs for the Senate building, made models of hydraulic machines and fountains, and taught at the Academy of Sciences. However, he soon began to experience strong rivalry with Jean-Baptiste Le Blond, an architect who also moved to Russia in 1716, and concentrated on sculpture. His first important work was the bust of Alexander Menshikov, which he completed by the end of 1716.

In the 1720s, he worked on the Grand Cascade and the Samson Fountain in the Peterhof Palace and on the triumphal column dedicated to the Great Northern War. In 1741 he completed the statue "Anna Ioannovna with a black boy", which is on display in the Russian Museum. In 1719 Rastrelli made a face mask for Peter, which he used in his work on three busts of Peter."

He also made a wax figure of Peter 1, which is now on display in the Hermitage. But the lack of information about him in other sources, with the exception of Russian-speaking, casts doubt on his Italian origin. And, accordingly, his son too … An article about Bartolomeo Rastrelli (son) for Encyclopedia Britannica was written by Andrei Sarabyanov (again, Russian, judging by his last name). He indicated Paris as the birthplace of Rastrelli, while an Italian source indicated Florence. About Rastrelli's labor activity:

“He developed an easily recognizable style that can be seen as an expression of the late European Baroque, which was a movement of Russian Baroque called the Elizabethan Baroque on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. His most important works, the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, are famous extravagance of luxury and richness of jewelry. In 1730, Rastrelli was elected chief architect of the court.

His main works:

  • Annenhof Palace in Lefortovo, Moscow, 1730 (demolished in the 19th century)
  • First Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, 1733 (later demolished)
  • Rundale Palace for Ernst Biron, 1736
  • Mitava Palace in Jelgava, Courland, again for Biron, 1738
  • Summer Palace in St. Petersburg, 1741 (demolished in 1797)
  • Expansion and reconstruction of the palace of the Great Peterhof, 1747
  • Church of St. Andrew the First-Called in Kiev, 1749
  • Vorontsov Palace in St. Petersburg, 1749
  • Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, 1752
  • Mariinsky Palace in Kiev, 1752 (now the solemn residence of the President of Ukraine)
  • Stroganov Palace in St. Petersburg, 1753
  • Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, 1753

Rastrelli's last and most ambitious project was the Smolny Monastery in St. Petersburg, where Empress Elizabeth spent the rest of her life. It was assumed that this bell tower would become the tallest building in St. Petersburg and the entire Russian Empire. The death of Elizabeth in 1762 prevented Rastrelli from completing the grandiose project."


Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Leblond

Mentioned here Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Leblond (fr. Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond; Le Blond; 1679, France -1719, St. Petersburg) according to Russian-language sources is a French architect and even a royal architect, and a master of landscape architecture. But there is no information about Leblond in French … Rather, it exists, but, judging by the surnames, it was written by Russian authors: Olga Medvedkova, "Au-dessus de Saint-Pétersbourg, dialogue au royaume des morts entre Pierre le Grand et Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond ", pièce en deux tableaux, Paris, TriArtis, 2013). Quotes from there:

« Royal architect, he built several mansions in Paris, including the Hotel de Clermont on the Rue de Varennes and the Hotel de Vendome, rue d'Enfer (now Boulevard Saint-Michel), drew up plans and began the construction of the Archbishop's Palace Auch for Archbishop Augustine Moupe, with whom he worked in the gardens of the Bishopric of Castres.

In the summer of 1716, 37-year-old Jean-Baptiste Alexander Leblond arrives in St. Petersburg with his family and apprentices. Peter had high hopes for the venerable Leblond and appointed him chief architect of the city, having subordinated him to other architects, including Trezzini. He gave him the title of General Architect with a salary of five thousand rubles (for comparison, Trezzini's salary during his entire career in Russia never exceeded one thousand rubles a year)."

In St. Petersburg, Leblon develops the General Plan of the city, which, however, is rejected by Peter in view of his insolvency (more on this in the article about "Impossible St. Petersburg" through the eyes of a European ")

“With Friedrich Braunstein and Nicola Michetti, he built the first Peterhof castle (1717). In St. Petersburg, he built the Apraksinsky Palace and made plans for a summer garden."

If Morferrand really met with Alexander I in 1814 or even in 1815, and he liked his drawings, why then did he go to Russia only in 1816, and with a letter of recommendation, tripled as a draftsman in Russia? But, despite the fact that he was not even the main draftsman, he is credited with the authorship of such objects:

  • 1817 Richelieu High School in Odessa
  • 1817-1820 Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace
  • 1818-1858 St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
  • 1819 Kochubei Palace
  • 1817-1822 Industrial complex of the Nizhny Novgorod trade fair
  • 1817-1825 Manege in Moscow
  • 1823 Yekateringofsky Park
  • 1832-1836 Construction of the Alexander Column in St. Petersburg
  • 1837 Participation in the repair, after the fire, of the interiors of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg
  • 1856-1858 Construction of an equestrian statue of Emperor Nicholas I in St. Petersburg

There is a version of how it all happened:

“In 1816, Alexander I commissioned who came from Spainengineer Augustine Betancourt, chairman of the newly formed "Committee for Buildings and Hydraulic Works", to prepare a project for the restructuring of St. Isaac's Cathedral. Bettencourt proposed to entrust the project to the young architect Auguste Montferrand, who had recently arrived from France to Russia. To show his skill, Montferrand made 24 drawings of buildings of various architectural styles (however, technically unreasonable), which Bettencourt presented to Alexander I. The Emperor liked the drawings, and soon a decree was signed appointing Montferrand “ imperial architect". At the same time, he was entrusted with preparing a project for rebuilding St. Isaac's Cathedral with the condition to preserve the altar part of the existing cathedral. " (Butikov G. P., Khvostova G. A. Isaac's Cathedral. - L.: Lenizdat, 1974.)

Again an album, and again from 24 drawings that Morferrand painted in 1814, then in 1815, and then in 1816. Or perhaps it was the same album?

This, of course, is not a complete list of foreign architects who worked in Russia, but the general picture regarding their origin or their professional suitability, I think, is clear.

Popular by topic