St. Basil Cathedral is
one of the most outstanding and remarkable monuments of Old
Russian architecture. In the 16th century the tourists
admired the beauty of the cathedral, and for the Russians it
became the symbol of native history and culture.
In 1552 the temple consecrated in honor of Saint Trinity was
put up. The temple was to commemorate the victory of Ivan
the Terrible over Kazan and Astrakhan khanate. In 1554 Tsar
ordered to construct the Cathedral of the Intersection of
the Blessed Virgin on the site of the temple. The chapels of
the cathedral were commemorating the victory over the Tatars.
Later Saint Basil, Moscow "God's fool" was buried in one of
the chapels, hence the name of the cathedral.
According to chronicles, St. Basil Cathedral was designed by
Russian architects Postnik and Barma. There is the legend
saying that Ivan the Terrible admired the beauty of the
cathedral and ordered to blind the architects so they could
never construct such a masterpiece again. Some historians
insist that the cathedral was designed by one person - Ivan
Barma who had a nickname Postnik as he kept the fast. The
legend of the architects' blindness could be refuted by the
fact that the name of Postnik was the author of many
architectural monuments mentioned in the chronicles after St.
Basil Cathedral construction.
St. Basil Cathedral is a symmetrical architectural ensemble
consisting of eight chapels surrounding the ninth temple,
which is the highest one. It is topped with a hipped roof.
Each chapel bears the name of a saint. The central temple is
dedicated to the Intersection of the Blessed Virgin. The
chapels are conjoined by the system of passages. The cupolas
that top the chapels are different from each other. Each
cupola is decorated with windows, niches, and cornices. The
cathedral impress as a festive and elegant one. Until the
end of the 17th century when the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower
was constructed on the Kremlin territory, St. Basil
Cathedral was the highest construction in Moscow. The
cathedral is 60 meters high.
In the middle of the 20s of the 20th century St. Basil
Cathedral got the status of museum. Since 1934 it is the
branch of the State Historical Museum in Moscow.
Cathedral of Christ the Savior
On December 25, 1812
Russian Emperor Alexander I signed an order, according to
which it was supposed to build a temple dedicated to
Russia's victory over Napoleon in Moscow. The new temple was
to symbolize the feat of Russian people and to become a
gratitude to Providence for saving Russia.
The author of the first project of the temple was Alexander
Vitberg who suggested putting up the cathedral on the
Vorobievy Hills (Sparrow Hills). According to his plan, the
cathedral was to consist of the three parts symbolizing the
Incarnation, the Transfiguration and the Resurrection. The
lower part of the cathedral was supposed to be the burial
place for those who died in the battles of the war of 1812.
The temple was solemnly laid out, but Vitberg's project was
never brought to life. The mountains started to sink under
the construction weight, and Nicolas I who became Russian
Tsar after Alexander I found Vitberg's project unrealizable.
Instead of Vitberg, Konstantin Ton was appointed the
architect of the cathedral.
It was decided to put up the temple on the site of
Alexeevsky convent. There was a legend that one of the nuns
was so desperate about moving the convent that she cursed
the future cathedral and foretold that it would not survive
for more than 50 years. Anyway, the place for cathedral
construction was perfect: the temple could be seen from any
part of Moscow, and neighboring with the Kremlin symbolized
the connection of the new Cathedral of Christ the Savior
with Russian history and culture.
It took about 40 years (1839-1883) to build and decorate the
Cathedral of Christ the Savior. On May 26, 1883, the temple
was solemnly consecrated in presence of Emperor Alexander
III and his family.
At the end of the 1980s it was suggested to reconstruct the
cathedral. In July, 1992 the President of Russia, Boris
Eltsin issued an edict, according to which the Fund of
Moscow revival was founded. In the list of objects to
reconstruct the Cathedral of Christ the Savior occupied the
first position. Unbelievably impetuous terms of construction
works allowed consecrating the restored cathedral in 2000.
The Cathedral of the
Dormition (Russian: ”спенский —обор, Uspensky Sobor) is the
mother church of Muscovite Russia. The church stands on
Cathedral Square in the Moscow Kremlin and was built in
1475Ц1479 by the Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti. In
1547 the coronation of the first Russian Tsar, Ivan the
Terrible, took place in this cathedral. From 1721 it was the
scene of the coronation of the Russian emperors. The ritual
installation of metropolitans and patriarchs of the Russian
Orthodox Church also took place in this cathedral, and their
tombs are to be found here. The patriarchate was abolished
by Peter the Great and only restored after the February
Revolution of 1917, though the groundwork for the
restoration was already in progress by that time, with the
permission of Nicholas II.
There is a legend that in the winter of 1941, when the Nazis
had already reached the threshold of Moscow, Joseph Stalin
secretly ordered a service to be held in the Dormition
Cathedral to pray for the country's salvation from the
invading Germans. In 1990 the Dormition Cathedral was
returned to the church, although a large museum still
operates within it.
Kazan Cathedral is a
Russian Orthodox church located on the northeast corner of
Red Square in Moscow. The current building is a
reconstruction of the original church which was destroyed at
the direction of then General Secretary of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Joseph
Stalin in 1936.
The original church was erected as a
shrine in the early 1630s to mark the city's liberation from
the Polish aggressors by the Russian people's volunteer army
at the close of the Time of Troubles.
Upon clearing Moscow from the Poles in 1612, Prince Dmitry
Pozharsky attributed his success to the divine help of the
icon Theotokos of Kazan, to whom he had prayed on several
occasions. From his private funds, he financed construction
of a wooden church to the Virgin of Kazan on Red Square in
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Kazan
Cathedral was the first church to be completely rebuilt
after having been destroyed by the Communists. The
cathedral's restoration (1990Ц1993) was based on the
detailed measurements and photographs of the original church
Peter Baranovsky made before its destruction in 1936.
Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Cathedral of the
Annunciation is a cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, dedicated
to the Annunciation of the Theotokos.
Formerly, the cathedral was a home church of the Muscovite
tsars. Its abbot had been a personal confessor of the royal
family until the early 20th century. The Cathedral of the
Annunciation was built on the Sobornaya Square (Cathedral
Square) by architects from Pskov in 1484-1489. It was
erected on the spot of an older 14th century cathedral of
the same name, which had been rebuilt in 1416. Initially,
the Cathedral of the Annunciation had three cupolas (two of
them built around 1572). It was surrounded by parvises from
three sides. In 1562-1564, they built four single-cupola
side chapels over the arched parvises. The north and west
entrances from the parvise are decorated with whitestone
portals of the 16th century. The fretwork is clearly
influenced by the Italian Renaissance architecture. The
bronze doors of the north and west portals are decorated
with gold foil. The floor of the Cathedral of the
Annunciation is made of jasper, which was brought from a
cathedral in Rostov Velikiy in the 16th century. The walls
contain fragments of murals, painted by Theodosius (1508)
and others (second half of the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries).
The iconostasis includes icons of the 14th-17th centuries,
including the ones painted by Andrei Rublev, Feofan Grek and
Prokhor, and 19th century, as well.
The Novodevichy Convent
is located in the south-west of Moscow, at the curve of
Moscow-River. The Novodevichy Convent ensemble is an
outstanding monument of architecture of the 16th-17th
The most attractive construction of the Novodevichy Convent
ensemble is the Smolensky Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Our
Lady of Smolensk Icon. It was built at the same time when
the convent was founded. The monumental five-domed cathedral
features the paintings of the 16th-17th centuries, rare
icons of the 17th century, and a five-tiered carved
icon-stand. The Refectory with the Assumption Church, the
belfries, Mariinskie and Lopukhinskie chambers are perfect
examples of Moscow Baroque style.
The convent was founded by Vasily III in 1524 to commemorate
the fact that Smolensk was returned as a part of Russia.
Hence the second name of the convent - Bogoroditse-Smolensky.
In the 16th century on the territory of the Novodevichy
Convent the cemetery intended for church and secular elite
representatives was established. In the 19th century the
heroes of the war of 1812 were buried in the cemetery. Among
them was the poet and hussar Denis Davidov, decembrists S.
Trubetskoi and M. Muraviev-Apostol, famous cultural workers,
including historian S. Soloviev and philosopher V. Soloviev.
The Novodevichy Convent is included in the UNESCO World
Heritage List. It ranges among the oldest and the most
beautiful convents in Russia.
Cathedral of the Archangel
The Cathedral of the
Archangel is the name of several cathedrals in Russia.
One particular cathedral by this name stands on the
Cathedral Square in the Moscow Kremlin. It was constructed
between 1505 and 1508 under the supervision of an Italian
architect Aleviz Fryazin Noviy on the spot of an older
cathedral, built in 1333.
The interior is entirely covered with holy icons.It contains
frescoes dating to the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of them
were painted by Yakov of Kazan, Stepan of Ryazan, Joseph
Vladimirov and others between 1652 and 1666. The stonework
on the walls of the cathedral was clearly influenced by the
Italian Renaissance. There are also a fretted wooden gilded
iconostasis 13 meters high with the icons of the 17th - 19th
centuries and church chandeliers of the 17th century.
Victories of the Russian military were celebrated in the
Cathedral of the Archangel. Russian tsars and grand princes
were buried within the cathedral until the 17th century, who
remain there to this day (including Ivan I Kalita, Dmitri
Donskoi, Ivan the Great, Ivan the Terrible). There are 54
burials in the cathedral, 46 ornamented whitestone
tombstones (1636Ц1637) and glazed cases made of bronze
(1903). Tsarevich Demetrius, the son of Ivan the Terrible,
was buried there in the early 17th century. Emperor Peter II
is also interred there, the only post-Petrine monarch buried
in the Kremlin (and the only one besides Ivan VI who is not
buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.)
The Epiphany Cathedral at
Yelokhovo, Moscow, is the vicarial church of the Moscow
Patriarchs. The surviving building was designed and built by
Yevgraph Tyurin in 1837Ц1845.
The original church in the village of Yelokhovo near Moscow
was built in 1722-31 for Tsarevna Praskovia Ivanovna. It was
there that Alexander Pushkin was baptised in 1799. In 1790 a
refectory with a four-tier belfry was built
The present structure was erected in 1837-1845 to a
Neoclassical design by Yevgraph Tyurin. The architecture is
typical for the late Empire style, with some elements of
European eclectics. The riotous opulence of the interior
decoration is due to a restoration undertaken in 1912.
Upon closing the Kremlin Cathedrals (1918), the destruction
of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (1931) and the
Dorogomilovo Cathedral (1938), the chair of Russian Orthodox
Church was moved to Yelokhovo, the largest open church in
Moscow. The enthronements of Patriarchs Sergius I (1943),
Alexius I (1945), Pimen (1970), and Alexius II (1990) took