Dutch Military Creates A Replica Of The Former Home Of Peter The Great

For MTThe replica was assembled at Kolomenskoye Park, where Peter the Great spent his childhood. It stands near to this log cabin, another of his temporary homes.

The Dutch navy has transported to Russia the replica of a house in which tsar Peter the Great lived while studying shipbuilding in The Netherlands. The original stands in the town of Zaandam. The wooden copy now forms part of an exhibition at Kolomenskoye Park in Moscow.

In September, the Dutch vessel Friesland brought containers with parts of the future house to St. Petersburg, the city tsar Peter founded, five years returning from his grand tour of Europe.

The small cottage was built long before the visit of Peter the Great from the wood of old ships and, dating from 1632, is one of the oldest wooden houses in The Netherlands. In 1697 when Peter arrived, in disguise, at Zaandam he stayed in the cottage, which belonged to his old acquaintance, craftsman Gerrit Kist.

Although the tsar stayed there for only eight days, before leaving for the Dutch East India Company shipyards in Amsterdam, he visited the house several more times, the last occasion being in 1717. The house was later forgotten, until Voltaire mentioned it in his 1761 biography of Peter. It soon attracted a stream of noble visitors, including future tsar Paul I.

His daughter Anna Pavlovna, a queen consort of The Netherlands, built a protective brick pavilion around it and Nicholas II commissioned a new stone roof in 1895 to cover the museum, which is a national monument in its own right.

With the help of the Russian company Summa Group the original house was restored earlier this year. Then the creation of a copy began as a joint project for the Russia-Dutch year. A sergeant major in the Royal Netherlands Army Corps of Engineers designed the replica. "It started with the director of the museum in Holland. There was an idea to make a replica to be exhibited for two weeks in Gorky Park in Moscow. Then they said they might have a better place for it but that it would have to last longer and that's when I came in", said sergeant major Rutger Pot.

The completed structure is four-and-a-half meters by nine around the outside and five-and-a-half meters high. "I haven't done anything similar to this project before: our work usually includes building camps or repairing houses, so it was a very nice opportunity for me to get from my commander," he added.

The original structure is 381 years old and made from the wood of old ships. The inside walls are covered with the autographs of other Russian tsars, commanders, princes and writers. There is even an inscription made by Napoleon, who when he visited the house exclaimed: "For great men nothing is too small".

Sgt. Maj. Pot originally feared that a true replica was not possible. Even though they used the same type of wood, it was new and lacked the patina of time. "It will look new because we didn't have secondhand wood but time will later have its effect. I really hope it will also last for 400 years," he said. He also decided not to replicate the warp of the old wood.

Inside, in place of the autographs on the original, the plan specifies white walls. "It will be like a modern house inside, but for the exposition space it will be perfect", said Sgt. Maj. Pot.

The engineer carried images of the future house on his mobile phone, digital animated pictures created by the Dutch with the help of special drawing software on a computer, to assist with the assembly on site in Moscow. "Now it is like a big LEGO with many pieces sorted in the containers", said the commander of the Friesland, Commander Arjen Warnaar.

According to Warnaar the crew of the ship faced no obstacles while transporting the containers. "This ship was built especially for this kind of operation. We've got a lot of space on board, so a couple of containers was not really a problem. We put some of them on the helicopter deck, and then we joined the training group which was going out to sea to train anyway and came together to St. Petersburg."

The elements of the building comprise different types of wood, clay and concrete, which was prepared on site in Moscow. The mission of the Dutch navy ended in St. Petersburg and the house continued its journey to Moscow by truck. Dutch military engineers worked with Russian counterparts on the final assembly.

 "The result of this joint project goes to the people of Russia, but the process itself is as important as the result," said the defense attaché of the Netherlands in Russia Colonel Sybren van Klaarbergen. The people of the Netherlands and the people of Russia worked together on the construction of Peter's house like they worked together on the construction of the first Russian naval ships.

Russia - Holland 2013
Russia - Holland 2013
The Moscow Times is releasing its new "Russia - The Netherlands 2013" supplement, dedicated to economic and cultural cooperation between the two nations. The current edition is published in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
PDF Download PDF Version