The Romanovs and the Holy See: 1613 – 1917. Russia and the Vatican City

Historical and documentary exhibition

Venue: The Exhibition hall of the Federal Archives (Moscow, Russia)

The exhibition “The Romanovs and the Holy See: 1613 – 1917. Russia and the Vatican City” opened at the Exhibition hall of the Federal Archives (Moscow, Bolshaya Pirogovskaya Street, 17) on December 14, 2017. The Ekaterina Cultural Foundation is one of the partners of this project.

The exhibition covers the history of relations between the Holy See and the Russian Empire under the House of Romanov. Two sections of the exhibition deal with the history of earlier contacts between the Grand Duchy and then Tsardom of Muscovy and Rome.

After the Romanov family became rulers of Russia, the country’s relationships with the Holy See became permanent. During the reign of Peter the Great, crucial changes in religious policy took place in Russia allowing the construction of the country's first Catholic churches. They grew in numbers under Empress Catherine the Great, who also enacted legislation defining the status of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia. Under Alexander I Russia opened its first embassy in the Vatican City, while Nicholas I oversaw the signing of the first ever treaty between the two countries. The diplomatic ties between Russia and the Holy See were severed in 1876 only to be reestablished by Alexander III, who reopened Russia's embassy at the Vatican as the sides discussed opening a nunciature in Russia. As Russia faced numerous crises both in foreign and internal affairs during the reign of Nicholas II, the relations between Russia and the Holy See became somewhat tense. However the ties were completely severed only following the 1917 Russian Revolution as the Bolsheviks denounced religion and made atheism their national policy.

The exhibition features around 250 historical artifacts and documents from major Russian archives and museums, such as the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, the Russian State Historical Archive, the Moscow Kremlin Museums, the State Hermitage Museum, the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Historical Museum, the State Museum of the History of Religion, the Pavlovsk State Museum Reserve. Unique documents were provided by the Archive of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire of the Historical and Document Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Vatican Secret Archive.

The visitors will also see portraits of Russian emperors and Popes as well as paintings with views of Rome, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, scenes of church services, the interiors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the halls of the Vatican, items used during Catholic services and robes worn by Catholic clergy.


Opening hours

Opening hours (during exhibitions):

Every day, except Mondays
11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Ticket office is open untill 7:30 p.m.


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Phone: +7 (495) 621 55 22


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Address: Moscow, Russia, 107031, 21/5 Kuznetsky Most, porch 8, entrance from Bolshaya Lubyanka street