The Armoury Chamber
Don't be misled by the name – the items here are from the former Royal Treasury of the Tsars. They were put on display in the 19th century in a Kremlin building which had previously been a weapons store – and was thus equipped to provide security for the priceless collection. Today the collection has over 4000 exhibits from Russia, Europe, and Asia. Also on display are Russian state medals and orders, the coronation regalia of the Tsars, the royal carriages, a huge display of royal jewellery, a large display of antique silverware, and valuable items produced by Russian craftsmen.
- The most famous exhibit is the Cap of Monomakh – the earliest surviving ceremonial crown of Russia, although it's more fur than gold. In ancient times, before the days of Peter the Great, this very cap served for the investiture of the Grand Princes of Moscow.
- Another unusual exhibit is the Double Throne. When lawyers could not decide which of the two half-brothers – Peter the Great, or Ivan V – had a better claim to the throne, it was decided to let them be co-monarchs. The throne contraption had a secret chamber with a door to it – in which a royal advisor could hide, and give advice on how to answer the questions of foreign ambassadors.
- During the Napoleonic Wars, valuable items were taken to Nizhny Novgorod for safe keeping.
- The collection of ceremonial saddlery and other regalia for horses is kept at the Arsenal, and has no equivalent anywhere else in the world.
The earliest items in the collection were diplomatic gifts from ambassadors of other nations, seeking to curry favour with the Russian court. By the 19th century, Tsar Alexander I decided that the collection had grown too large for the Royal Treasury, and needed its own premises within the royal court. The building which now houses the museum collection was built in 1851, to designs by the architect Konstantin Ton.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the new Soviet Government resolved to take all the items into public ownership and open a museum with them – supplementing the displays with items confiscated during the closure of the monasteries and churches. The displays followed a broadly chronological order, with a guided commentary provided by museum staff.
Today the displays of the Armoury Chambers are spread across nine halls, over two floors and now follow a thematic principle for their exhibition.
What to see
- Arms and armour. This display presents both Russian and foreign items for military and ceremonial use.
- The collection of gold and silder relics. This display features gold and silver historic items, decorated with precious and semi-precious stones. One of the museum's most valuable objects is a church chalice owned by the founder of Moscow, Grand-Prince Yuri Dolgoruky,
- The collection of royal regalia and ceremonial objects. The collection includes royal thrones, orbs, scepters, royal crowns, goblets, and other such items.
- Royal apparel and fabrics. The displays show fabrics woven for the clothing of the patriarchs and monarchs, and for other use at the royal court. There is a special display of the coronation gowns of Russian monarchs.
- Saddlery and bridles. This hall presents some exceptional examples made by Russian and foreign craftsmen.
- The Royal Carriages – a collection assembled over many generations of Russian and foreign rulers from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Guided Tour to The Armoury Chamber
You can book a tour in English on our website.