A little trip into Russian history – Kuskovo (part 1)

Hello, everybody! I haven’t been here, in my blog, for a while. I went to my native Russia for five weeks and didn’t have the opportunity to write any posts… Now I am back and I’d like to share with you a wonderful experience I had in Moscow.

There is a place in the Eastern part of Moscow called Kuskovo and – I am ashamed to admit it – although I heard about it, of course I did! – I visited it for the first time last month. What an encounter it was! I spent almost the whole day there and couldn’t get enough of it.

Kuskovo is an 18th century huge estate which used to be well outside Moscow boundaries but now, of course, is swallowed by the city. The first thing that amazed me was the share beauty of it. They knew how to do things like that in the old times!

799px-Kuskovo-2004-1

Isn’t it amazing?

Another marvelous thing about Kuskovo was the sense of authenticity – it was the REAL piece, all the parks and gardens and buildings had that  feeling of a wonderful old country place where History lives and shines…

But before I talk about the estate itself, let me tell you about it’s creator and owner, Pyotr  Sheremetev. Imagine a Russian nobleman and courtier, the richest man in Russia aside from the tsar who had numerous palaces in both capitals (Moscow and St Petersburgh) as well country estates all over Russia. Well, that was our guy.

sheremetev

When his father Boris died in 1719, he was only 6 years old and  tsar Peter the Great promised to be “like a father” to Boris’s children, and young Pyotr was brought up at court as a companion to the heir to the throne, who became tsar Peter II.

He had a glittering career at the court and unlike other court favorites, who rose and fell with the change of sovereign, Sheremetev remained in office for six consecutive reigns. …  But he wasn’t a career man at heart and as soon as he could he left the royal service and threw himself to his passion – love of art and theater, using his vast wealth to support it. Well, he certainly could afford it, especially after he married Varvara Cherkasskaya who brought him an expensive dowry.

sheremeteva wife

So, he was extremely rich and loved art. What was the most natural thing to do? Correct! Enjoy yourself. And enjoyed himself he did. He ordered to build various palaces (like this one in StPetersburgh)

Sheremetev_Palace_01

and decorated them with the best paintings, sculptures, furniture and architectural features there was. He employed the best professional architects but also had at his disposal extremely talented artists  from his serfs… They did an excellent job!

hall in palace

He collected a vast library of political and philosophical books from Europe, created  famous serf orchestra and theatre and compiled the best in 18th century Russia portrait gallery (in Kuskovo, by the way). His servants constantly raided European countries trying to find various artifacts for his estates. Nice job, I wish I could have it.

He was quite assiduous but economical manager of his estates but when he wanted to “maintain the family honor” and entertain the Empress and the court, he gave gala-receptions in Kuskovo that impressed everybody. Like, if you invited 2,500 guests over, you have to splash out, right?

He had 6 children and died aged 75. That’s all about him and I will tell you about his gem of an estate tomorrow.

——————-to be continued ————————-

 

 

 

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