The Archangel Cathedral

The first wooden Archangel Cathedral was constructed at its present location in the Kremlin during the short-term reign of Alexander Nevsky’s brother, Michael Khorobrit, in 1247-1248. According to legend, it was only the second church built in Moscow.

In 1505, the Grand Duke Ivan Vasilyevich ordered to demolish the old and timeworn church and to build a new one. In a few days after the laying of the foundation stone Ivan Vasilyevich died and was buried in the just-laid-down church. That’s why it is Ivan Vasilyevich’s son, Grand Duke Vasily III, who is recognized as the founder of the new Archangel Cathedral, which was built and consecrated during Vasily’s reign. So it is the Archangel Cathedral of Valily III Ivanovich that we can see nowadays.
Aleviz Fryazin, the architect, was invited to carry out the construction of the Cathedral. He was one of the Italian craftsmen who had come to Russia at the invitation of the Grand Duke of Moscow in order to construct the brick-built Kremlin. The architect from Milan not only paid tribute to the traditional five-domed construction technique in the same manner as Aristotel Fiorovanti did with respect to the Dormition Cathedral, but also returned to the cross-domed system. He used semicircular vaults and crossed pillars instead of crossed vaults and circular pillars that were applied in the Dormition Cathedral. Though the construction and planning solution of the Cathedral was traditional, the church was decorated with secular Renaissant architectural elements.

The Cathedral was built out of limestone. It was painted in the 16th century but the original fresco-paintings remained intact only in diaconicon where the shrine of the Tsar Ivan the Terrible was arranged.
The most remarkable part of the wall-painting is the “portrait” gallery on the lower floor which consists of conventional representations of real historical people buried in the Cathedral. There are more than sixty “portraits” of Moscow’s Grand Dukes and appanage Princes including pictures of Vasliy II the Dark, Ivan Kalita, Dmitry Donskoy, Ivan III, Vladimir Andreyevich the Brave and his grandson Vasily Yaroslavovich etc. The portraits of the Tsars who were buried in the Cathedral during 16th-17th centuries were painted on wooden plates with egg tempera or on canvas.
There are forty six sepulchres of Moscow’s Dukes and Tsars in the Cathedral’s sepulchral vault starting from Ivan Kalita’s and out to Ivan V Alekseyevich’s, the brother of Peter the First. There are also sepulchres of other Moscow noblemen. Speaking of which, until the reign of Peter the First there was a tradition to put petitions on Dukes’ and Tsars’ sepulchres, which were addressed directly to the Tsar.

Tour to Moscow