Fireplace is the most ancient element of the dwelling. It began to take shape in the Neolithic Age as a circle of stones, a frame for the fire, where the ancient people were preparing their food. The smoke from this hearth went into the hole in the ceiling.
Then there was the tube with a cone-shaped funnel to trap the smoke. But such changes have occurred over several centuries. Despite the fact that the efficiency of the fireplace is not great, it does not go away from architectural arena, because it is forever as the symbol. Fireplace not only warms the shelter, but also it underlines the stability of the family hearth.
The first fireplaces were in Roman antiquity period. Their portals were cut in the walls with stepped jambs and characterized with simplicity and modesty. In ancient Rome the heating channels were designed to warm several rooms, they were under the windows and applied hot air in the house. Such systems were used in the baths (thermae) and villas.
One of the most influential architects of the Renaissance – Andrea Palladio, in his famous, based on traditions of antiquity treatise on architecture, described the Roman fireplaces: "The ancients used to heat their rooms as follows. The fireplaces were built in the middle with the columns supporting architraves, above which the pyramid rose, where the smoke went away." So in ancient Rome, the fireplace was an independent construction with the beams supporting the pipe, but not connected with the walls of the house.
Much later the fireplace moved to one of the walls, and only the next step of its development became the merging of the furnace and the chimney with the wall.
Despite the modest coverings, the fireplace played a sacred role in those days (it protected from evil spirits and supported human life), and the role of the hearth keeper was extremely important and significant. The destruction of the fire place in the house by the enemy was the equivalent of desecrating the holy sites.
In the Middle Ages the fireplaces were very large, so the Knights pilgrims could roast a whole bull in them. In the French city of Poitiers people can admire the triple fireplace in the entire end wall of the Duke de Berry castle. A small two-story house could fit in each of its three sections. The hearth is decorated with the gallery with openwork balustrade, three fanciful arches, the stone Gothic lace.
During the Renaissance the fireplaces have been the subject of serious interest of decorating painters. The fireplace portals were made of granite and marble and were decorated with Florentine mosaics. Their composition consisted of columns, pilasters, entablature elements. The size of the fireplace smoke box and the fireplace area along the wall increased, the carved decorations have appeared over the mantels. In baroque and rococo art the over mantel decorations were made smaller, but they were extremely diverse and exquisitely decorative.
In the XIX century the firebrick, created at the same time, was used to decorate furnace. The fire grate for wood, located in the furnace, and the slatted ash box still encourage the blacksmiths to a variety of artistic improvisations. The purpose of these items is to provide the air access to firewood and to burn coals completely. The tongs for burning wood inversion, the special plug for agitating fuel, the brush with the long handle and the scoop for furnace cleaning, the bellows for inflating the fire have a great variety of designs and decorations. In the XVIII century the poker for breaking up the burning coal into small pieces, the buckets and the boxes for coal came in common use, which were subsequently replaced with the carved wooden boxes and the grates for the fuel. In the XIX century the fireplace screens or the special mesh, through which the fire was visible, were installed to protect the wooden floor of the room from burning coals.
The fireplace history in Russia has only a few centuries, initially they appeared in the homes of the rich boyars, and then, in the era of Peter I, the fireplaces were increasingly set in the interiors of the palaces. Due to the severe climate, Russian treated the fireplaces more as the pastime of the rich. In Russia the fireplace has always been the indicator of the status and social significance of the host. The presence of the fireplace was one of the distinctive privileges, granted by Peter I to the Russian nobility. Then the Decree was issued, which allowed the citizens of German suburb in Moscow to build fireplaces.