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History of the Ancient Russian Town of Murom

By Vladimir Chernyshev
© copyright 1998-2001: by Vladimir Chernyshev, all rights reserved

BACKGROUND: Vladimir Chernyshev of Murom, Russia has made available to FEEFHS for posting on this website merchant and noble family surname indexes for the region of Murom Russia. It is a product of a decade of his archival research as a historian and genealogist.

First mentioned in chronicles in 862, the ancient town of Murom came into being at the place of the Finno-Ugric tribe "Muroma" settlement. The Slavs took roots here, on the steep bank of the river Oka by the end of the 10th century. Gleb inherited Murom from his father, Kiev Grand Duke Vladimir, the baptizer of Russia.

In the 12th century Murom became the centre of the great principality of Murom-Ryazan; but soon the town came under the influence of the Vladimir-Suzdal Princes. After the Tatars' destruction in 1239 the town became desolate. It was joined to the principality of Moscow in the late 14th century. Nothing of that ancient period is retained. Still, some archeological findings - especially some pieces of white stone, make us ask the question: might there have been here (as well as at Vladimir, Bogolyubovo, Suzdal) some white-stone temples in the 12th century?

The town of the 16-17th centuries is easy to imagine: there stood the Kremlin with wooden walls, towers and gates on the bank of the river Oka. The government, the prison and other fortified constructions were situated inside the Kremlin. The market-place, 2 monasteries and 24 trading streets surrounded the Kremlin. The main streets went to the Kremlin and monasteries along the roads to Vladimir and Kasimov.

In the 16th century, during the Ivan the Terrible period, four stone churches were built in Murom: the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral (not preserved) in the Kremlin, the Cathedrals of the Annunciation Monastery and the Savior Monastery, the tent-shaped Church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian on the bank of the Oka.

In the 17th century the Trinity Convent was erected. In the 17th century Murom obtained its special beauty and expressiveness: carved stone, multicolored wall-tiles, 5-dome churches, tent-shaped towers. The outline of stone cathedrals was taken as a model for parish wooden churches: St. Nicholas Church on the Embankment (1717), the Ascension Church (1729), the Nativity of Christ Church (1851) and St. John the Baptist Church (1806).

In 1778 Murom received the status of an uyezd town of the Vladimir gubernia. The town was rebuilt according to a new plan. The fan-shaped network of streets was changed into a strict right-angled network of blocks. The architectural ensemble of new streets was formed during one hundred years. It included Moskovskaya, Kasimovskaya, Rozhdestvenskaya, Uspenskaya and Sretenskaya Streets.

Together with the ancient landscape, the Monasteries of the 16-17th centuries and old churches, several Empire style buildings are still retained. The improvement of the town was backed and sponsored by Murom merchants: Bogdan Tsvetnoi in the 17th century; the Yermakovs, the Zvorykins and the Kiselyovs in the 19th century.

The old postcards conveyed the beauty and the fascination of the ancient Murom: the river landscape, green gardens, domes and cupolas of the churches, stone lace-like decorations, bell-towers... Today it is a living Russian antiquity.

VLADIMIR CHERNYSHEV, born in 1980, is a native of MUROM and a research professional at the MUROM Museum of History and Art. He is fluent in Russian and English. He welcomes serious inquries regarding professional assignments to research families known to have lived in or near Murom and to provide translatation of his research into English.

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