The Annunciation Cathedral

The picturesque silhouette of the nine-domed Annunciation Cathedral is situated at the south-western corner of the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square. Rather small, but still noble and monumental, inscribed into a slender and narrow pyramid with a top resplendent in gold, the Annunciation Cathedral holds its special place among other Kremlin’s churches.

It is known that the Cathedral of Annunciation was a family church of Moscow’s rulers. Therefore, the dean of the Annunciation Cathedral was usuallythe Grand Duke’s confessor and the Keeper of Tsar’s Seal. But only few people know that at the same time the Cathedral was used as a Gold Treasury of All Russia because the family church was traditionally the place of keeping the Grand Dukes’ and, later, the Tsars’ treasures. It is due to its special location that the whole history of the rebuilding of the Annunciation Cathedral is symbolic of Moscow’s rise and growth of its wealth and power.

A small wooden church on a stone bed was built at the present location of the Annunciation Cathedral in the end of 13th-to start of 14th century. At the time Moscow was still a small Duchy that only recently had become an independent state. There is a legend about the construction of a wooden church of Annunciation by Duke Andrey Alexandrovich, son of Alexander Nevsky, in 1291. But the first mention of the Annunciation Cathedral in Russian history appears only in 1397 in connection with bringing the Icon of the Saviour in White Robe to Moscow from the Byzantine Empire.
The Grand Duke Ivan III, who accepted the “Sovereign of All Russia” title, rebuilt the Moscow Kremlin. The Annunciation Cathedral was raised again in 1484. Most of the Cathedral’s structure built at the end of the 15th century was similar to the design and, probably, the dimensions of the earlier building which existed in the beginning of the 15th century. The difference was that it was encircled with gallery-porches. In 1508 the central dome of the building was gilt and in the second half of the 16th century all the domes and the roof were covered with gilt copper giving it the name of “gold-topped” to the Cathedral. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible took a hand in laying the unique floor of the Cathedral which is still in place. All the floor area is laid with silica tiles of various size and colour with impregnations of agate and jasper.

Starting from 1993 the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia administers the religious service at the Cathedral on the 7th of April, the Saint’s Day of the Annunciation. Tour to Moscow