The Patriarch’s Palace is one of the best monuments of Moscow civil architecture of the mid-17th century. The Palace was erected on Patriarch Nikon’s order by Russian masters in 1653-1655 on the spot of ancient constructions of Metropolitans' and later Patriarchs' residence in the Moscow Kremlin. The works were made under the guidance of apprentices Alexey Korolkov and Ivan Semenov.
The ground floor of the cathedral was used for household services; the second floor housed private quarters of the patriarch. Staterooms were on the first floor. The main room was the Cross Chamber (Krestovaya palata), also known as the Chrism Chamber. It was the place where the Holy Synod took place, foreign ambassadors were received, ceremonial receptions and feasts were held. Moscow Synodal Office was housed here in 18th-19th centuries.
Nowadays, the Cross Chamber, the Front Anteroom, the refectory and the Twelve Apostles' Church house the exposition exploring the history and peculiarities of Russian culture through the 17th century. Precious housewares, jewellery, ceremonial hunting equipment, ancient furniture and items of church embroidery presented here were created by masters of Russia, European and Eastern countries. The majority of items were made in national traditions by Russian masters of Moscow Kremlin Workshops and masters from Yaroslavl, Kostroma and other towns.
They represent one of the most important periods of the Russian history that was marked with changes in the outlook and way of living of Russian people on the eve of Peter the Great's reforms. Of particular interest is a gilded iconostasis in the private Twelve Apostles' Church, made of carved wood in the 17th-18th centuries—it is a wonderful example of carving. On display is also a collection of icons showing the development of icon painting in the 17th century. The works of the leading royal icon painters Simon Ushakov and Feodor Zubov present new tendencies in painting. The exposition shows a new artistic taste of Russian society in the 17th century and the singularity of the spiritual life in Rus on the edge of the modern history.