The Church of Assumption in Moscow

The Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin

The Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin ©e_chaya/Flick

The oldest building in the ecclesiastic ensemble of the Cathedral Square in the center of the Kremlin is the Church of Assumption. It has a long history and an interesting destiny. In the 14th century, Metropolitan Peter urged the Ivan I to raise in Moscow a cathedral simmilar to the Assumption Cathedral in the city of Vladimir. Before his death in 1326, he has predicted that “if Ivan commands to build a Church of the Assumption, Moscow will gather all the Russian lands around itself”.

On August 4, 1326, began the construction of the cathedral. In the following year, Moscow became the capital of Vladimir-Suzdal principality, and later the capital of the whole Russia.

The construction of a new cathedral

By the end of the 15th century the old Cathedral of Assumption had become dilapidated, therefor the architects Kryvtsov and Myshkin began building of a new cathedral in 1472. Two years later, when the building was nearly completed, it collapsed because of a large earthquake.

After that Ivan the Great, at the urging of his wife, brought from Italy a team of Italian architects led by Aristotle Fioravanti from Bologna, and Alevisto Novi from Milan. They were using all the modern techniques of the age and their experience and built a new cathedral between 1475 and 1479 that was harmoniously combining the Renaissance spirit with Russian tradition and style.

The exterior of the Assumption Cathedral

The exterior of the Assumption Cathedral ©beggs/Flick

Famous icons of the church

From the icons of the Church of Assumption in Moscow, it is particularly interesting the icon of Saint George, a masterpiece made in the 12th century, but only discovered in 1935 during the restoration works on the back the recent icons. The patron saint of the warriors is represented here in an original stance with a thoughtfull look directed towards the divine light. The cathedral hosts some of the most revered icons of Russia including the Icon of the Savior, carried as flag in the battle, or the “Virgin of Vladimir ” known by the inhabitants of Moscow as the “Virgin of Gentleness.”

The interior of the Assumption Cathedral

The interior of the Assumption Cathedral ©Anosmia/Flick

The role of the cathedral

The Church of Assumption in Moscow with its massive limestone façade, five towers and a dome became the coronation place of the tsars since 1547. Since 1721, this cathedral was the place of the coronation ceremonies of kings, but also housed the office of enthronement of the patriarchs and metropolitans of the Orthodox Church. Their graves can be visited here today. In 1918, with the transfer of the Bolshevik government in Moscow, the liturgical services in Kremlin were prohibited. For example, that year the Easter service could only be held with the approval of Lenin.

The Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin

The Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin ©e_chaya/Flick

Leave a Reply