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The cathedral square

The spacious Cathedral Square can be considered the main one in Moscow. There are three ancient cathedrals, the majestic bell tower “Ivan the Great”, the Church of the Position of the Tunic of the Mother of God and the old chambers. These architectural monuments have witnessed many dramatic pages in the history of Russia. Here the sovereigns were erected, the patriarchs were buried and the main royal decrees were announced. The Cathedral Square has been standing for more than 500 years and still continues to surprise everyone who visited the territory of the Kremlin.

Cathedral Square from the bell tower of Ivan the Great. From left to right: Arkhangelsk Cathedral, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Faceted Chamber, Verkhospassky Cathedral, Church of the Deposition of the Assumption, Cathedral of the Assumption

The history of the old square.

The Cathedral Square has the status of one of the oldest squares in the city. The composition and contours of its future development were established in the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries, when there were only wooden buildings in the Kremlin. The square appeared on the highest part of the hill and became the place where the main temples of the emerging state were built.

The stone buildings in the square were gradually erected, and the architects of Moscow, Vladimir and Pskov participated in its construction. The Italians also worked here, so the appearance of most buildings was greatly influenced by the European Renaissance architecture. At the beginning of the 16th century, three great cathedrals stood in the square, the Faceted Chamber building and a high bell tower, from which you could see almost all of Moscow.

View of the square from the Patriarchal Palace and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles. From left to right: Arkhangelsk Cathedral, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Cathedral of the Assumption.

For several centuries, the Cathedral Square has hosted major celebrations and ceremonies. Here the princes were crowned kingdom and Russian tsars, and also baptized the heirs to the throne. The chambers received foreign ambassadors and celebrated Zemsky cathedrals. Princes, kings and members of their families were buried in the ancient Arkhangelsk Cathedral, and the metropolitan and patriarchs found the last refuge in the nearby Assumption Cathedral.

In 1812, when the French took Moscow, the Kremlin area suffered fires. The bell tower, the annex Filaretovskaya and the bell tower suffered particularly serious damage. When the war with the French was completed, the old buildings were restored.

The square in front of the Church of the Deposition of the Assumption, the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Patriarchal Palace and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles.

The old square was rebuilt several times. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, its fragments were covered with stone slabs. The entire area was paved with the 300th anniversary of the celebration of the Romanov royal dynasty in 1913. In the 1930s, the Cathedral Square was paved. However, the asphalt pavement deteriorated rapidly and next to the old cathedrals it seemed extremely miserable. Therefore, in 1955 it was removed, and the old square was again clad in stone.

The Cathedral Square is not the only one in the Kremlin. In addition to the battlements, there are other historical squares. In front of the Spasskaya Tower is the famous Red Square. It hosts military parades, state celebrations and great festivals. Behind the bell tower building of Ivan the Great is a spacious Ivanovskaya square, which was once called Tsarskaya. In addition, within the walls of the Kremlin there are two more places: the Senate and the Palace, but they are closed to tourists.

What can be seen in the square

On a clear day, the domes of the ancient temples covered with gold shine in the Cathedral Square. The Assumption Cathedral was the first to appear in it. A wooden church dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God has been standing here since ancient times, and the first stone cathedral was erected in the 13th century. When the country was ruled by Ivan Kalita, the temple was rebuilt (1326-1327). The cathedral that has survived to this day was erected in the 1470s according to the project of the famous Italian architect and engineer Ridolfo Aristóteles Fioravanti. Until 1917, it had the status of the main cathedral of Russia.

For centuries, one of the orthodox sanctuaries: the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir was stored inside this temple. Today, the famous image is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery. In the cathedral you can see 19 graves, where the hierarchies of the churches are buried. On certain days, with the patriarch’s blessing, services are held in the church.

The Assumption Cathedral established the compositional base of the entire square, and other buildings were built on it, focusing on the architecture of this five-headed giant. In the 1480s, the invited architects of Pskov erected another cathedral near the Assumption: the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Experts are sure they built it not from scratch. Since the end of the thirteenth century, the Kremlin had a wooden Church of the Annunciation, which the czars of Moscow used as a house church. In the mid-16th century, the Cathedral of the Annunciation of three domes was made with nine domes, and from this it acquired a very festive appearance.

Today inside the Cathedral of the Annunciation you can see frescoes and icons made by famous Russian isographers: Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev. It is curious that on the porch of the cathedral there are images of Aristotle, Plutarch, Ptolemy, Homer and other famous Greeks. The views of the temple are a stacked floor with bright impregnations of jasper and agate, as well as luxurious forged lamps. In addition, the cathedral houses exhibits of an interesting museum of treasures and antiques.

Moscow Kremlin Cathedral Square

In front of Blagoveshchensk stands the magnificent Archangel Cathedral. A wooden church dedicated to Archangel Michael has existed on the Kremlin hill since the mid-thirteenth century. The cathedral, which can be seen today, was built in the early 16th century. The author of his project was the famous Italian architect Aleviz Novy. The construction of the Archangel Cathedral, as nowhere else in the Kremlin, embodies the traditions of the Italian Renaissance.

There are 54 graves in the main Grand Ducal Cathedral, where the Rurikovichs and Romanovs are buried from Ivan Kalita to the father of Peter I: Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. The walls of the old church are decorated with elaborate paintings. And in the great iconostasis there are many images written under the guidance of one of the best teachers in the Armory: Fedor Zubov.

The metropolitans and the patriarchs also had their own church at home. This is the Deposition Church, built in the 1480s. In the 17th century, the temple was connected by passages with princely chambers and completely rebuilt. Today, a permanent exhibition of ancient wood sculpture is open in the Church of the Deposition of the Tunic.

Faceted Chamber from the Cathedral of the Annunciation

On the edge of the Ivanovo square stands the bell tower of Ivan the Great. Its architectural complex consists of three buildings: the bell tower itself, the Filaret extension and the bell tower of the Assumption. There are 21 bells and a museum that tells the history of Kremlin architecture.

There are also civil buildings in the Cathedral Square: the Patriarchal Palace and the Faceted Chamber building. The Patriarchal Palace has been used as a museum since 1918. Today you can see in it rich collections of ancient sewing, forged products, jewelry, articles of the patriarch and the royal treasure, and fragments of 17th-century wall paintings.

For a long time, the faceted camera could only be examined from the outside. But since 2012, after the restoration, it was opened for excursions. It exhibits furniture, typographic parquet, carpets and beautiful murals that paint the walls and arches of an old building. Since the 19th century, Russian weapons from the time of Peter the Great were installed near Sobornaya Square, which were manufactured at the end of the 17th century, the beginning of the 18th century and are now stored as monuments of military glory. Until 2012, these weapons could be seen next to the Arsenal building.

From left to right: Verkhospassky Cathedral and Church of the Deposition of the view from the Cathedral Square.

Useful information for tourists

Those who want to reach the Cathedral Square and visit the temples and museums located there must buy tickets at the ticket office of the Moscow Kremlin. They are located in the territory of the Alexander Garden. There is a luggage storage office nearby, where you can leave large bags and backpacks in front of the Kremlin. In accordance with current regulations, photography and video inside the Kremlin museums and temples are prohibited.

The ticket offices are open from any day, except Thursdays, from 9.30 to 16.30. In the summer, they open half an hour before. Tickets are only sold on the day of the visit. Tourists can buy a single ticket for all museums in the Cathedral Square or take a separate ticket to visit the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

  • The Patriarchal Palace and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles of the Assumption Cathedral.

Museums and exhibition halls in Cathedral Square are open any day, except Thursdays, from 10 a.m. at 5 p.m., and from mid-May to the end of September from 9.30 a.m. at 6 p.m. Visits to the bell tower begin at 10.15, 11.15, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00. In the summer for tourists add an additional session at 17.00. In the winter months, the bell tower is closed, and in the low season excursions are made according to the weather.

Address: Russia, Moscow Kremlin

Main attractions: Cathedral of the Assumption, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Church of the Deposition of the Deposition, Cathedral of the Archangel, Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Patriarchal Palace and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles.

How to get

“The Lenin Library”, “Alexander Garden” and “Borovitskaya” go to the territory of the Moscow Kremlin from the Moscow metro stations.

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