The Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage has approved the heritage status of Mostovaya Tower on Izmailovsky Island. Experts have analysed the historical and cultural value of the façades and interior decorations of this three-level red brick structure, which was built in 1671‒1679. It was a joint project by architects and builders M. Ivanov, Ivan Kuzmin (Kuznechik), T. Makarov, Kondraty Mymrin, A. Fomin and Ya. Yanov. Today Mostovaya Tower is a federal heritage site, protected by the state.
Izmailovsky Island is a former royal residence and family estate of the Romanovs. Mostovaya Tower was part of a stone arch bridge over Serebryany (Izmailovsky) Pond leading into the estate from the Vladimir Road (now Shosse Entuziastov).
The rectangular ground floor of the tower had three arches which were used to enter the estate. Bell ringers lived on the first floor, which was also rectangular in shape but smaller than the ground floor. The guard rooms of the Streltsy soldiers on the first two floors are still in good condition. When Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich stayed at Izmailovo, he held meetings of the Boyar Duma on the first floor. In the early 1730s, Empress Anna Ioannovna convened Senate meetings in Mostovaya Tower. This is why the vaulted room where Russia’s supreme body of government met was called the Senate Chamber.
The first floor is surrounded on all four sides by the so-called promenade – an open gallery with a high railing, which was also used as a lookout. The second floor is octagonal in shape with a tented roof. The bridge gradually fell into disrepair and was dismantled in 1767.
Throughout its history of more than 300 years, the tower has been used for various purposes. When a poorhouse for war veterans was established on Izmailovsky Island during the reign of Nicholas I in the 1830s, the tower was used as the belfry of the nearby Intercession Cathedral. There were seven ordinary bells and one battle alarm bell on the upper floor, and a two-headed eagle perched on the roof. The eagle and the bells were removed during the Soviet period, and glass windows were installed in the arches. Over the years, the tower housed a cooperative society with a warehouse, residential premises, and a mica insulation laboratory belonging to the Electrical Engineering Institute.
Izmailovsky Island is now part of the Izmailovo Museum Estate of the Moscow Department of Culture, and Mostovaya Tower provides a venue for exhibitions.
“Mostovaya Tower is a typical example of the unique talents of the 17th century Moscow architects. Our experts have compiled a list of the building’s valuable features, including the decorative façade elements such as triple semi-columns with flat capitals in the corners and at the arched entrance gates of the ground floor, as well as a frieze of coloured tiles with birds of paradise among leaves, berries and flowers. Another frieze decorates the railing of the open gallery and the second floor,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage.
He also mentioned the decorative elements of the eight windows on the first floor. Their platbands were made of hewn brick in the form of semi-columnswhile the upper platband was made of white stone in the form of a kokoshnik (a Russian headdress), and window lintels were decorated with plummets. These and other important elements of the tower are now protected by the state.
The last comprehensive renovation of the tower was carried out in the 1980s. The current restoration project has been coordinated with the Department of Cultural Heritage, whose experts are monitoring the process.
The conservation team has reinforced the foundation and is restoring the façade brickwork and mouldings. The project includes the renovation of the tiles and the reconstruction of wooden windows, doors and gates based on surviving analogues. In addition to this, the restorers will recreate the original sandstone coping on the open gallery. Experts will repair the copper roof and recreate the two-headed eagle that perched there in times gone by.
The city is implementing a challenging programme to restore architectural landmarks. Since 2011, the authorities have renovated over 1,400 cultural landmarks, including 203 in 2019.