The Patriarch's Chambers is a rare and one of the best monuments of Moscow civil architecture of the middle of the 17th century. The chambers were erected by order of Patriarch Nikon within the period from 1653 to 1655 to the north of the Assumption Cathedral by Russian masters on the site of the more ancient buildings of the Metropolitan and later the Patriarchal court of the Moscow Kremlin. The construction works were supervised by apprentice of stone works Alexei Korolkov and apprentice Ivan Semenov. The house church of the Patriarchal court stands on two arches of the front entrance to the courtyard. There is a carved gilded iconostasis dated from the end of the 17th century till the beginning of the 18th century. The magnificent Cross (Mirovarennaya) chamber remained unchanged in the cathedral. It is the reception hall of the patriarchs.
The first floor of the palace was occupied by household services; the third one housed private rooms of the patriarch. The second floor was intended for the showrooms (gala halls). The main among them is the Cross, or the Mirovarennaya, chamber, where meetings of the Holy Council took place and feasts were held in honor of the Czar and foreign guests. Within the period from XVIII to XIX centuries the Moscow Synodal Office was located in the Patriarch's chambers.
Today the museum exposition of the Patriarch's chambers is located on the second floor. It is dedicated to the Russian culture of the 17th century, when the worldview, traditions and the whole way of life of Russian society changed prior to Peter's reforms. The museum presents precious dishes, jewelry, items of royal hunting, antique furniture, monuments of facial and ornamental sewing. In the house church of the Twelve Apostles, a carved gilded iconostasis of the period from XVII till XVIII centuries is a matter of special interest. The church also houses an exhibition of icons, which tells about the evolution of icon painting throughout the century. The new trends in painting are clearly illustrated by the works of leading court icon-painters Simon Ushakov and Fedor Zubov.
The exposition of the museum tells about the artistic tastes of the Russian society of the XVII century, about the peculiarity of the spiritual life of Russia which stood on the cusp of the New time.