Russia was and is one of the largest countries in the world, so it’s normal for them to have several religions in their country with that amount of population. One of the most important and common religions in Russia is the Orthodox church of Christianity. The Orthodox Church played several key moments in Russia history and left some strong marks in their history. Their churches in Russia were quite important amongst people and imperial families. For example, The Cathedral of Annunciation which is located at the heart of the city of Moscow in Kremlin, at the southwest of the Cathedrals Square. The Cathedral of Annunciation is one of the most important cathedrals for the imperial families throughout the Tsarism era. The birth of this cathedral which is located near the Palace of Facets, and has a direct connection with the Grand Kremlin Palace, dates back to the 15th century.
Before the Cathedral of the Annunciation was built, there was a 14th-century old wooden church at the current cathedral location. During the time between the 14th and 15th centuries, the city dealt with several series of fires, because of that reason, the wooden church completely burnt, and so did the next one that built over it. It was only in the Ivan III’s series of restoration of the Moscow that the current cathedral built with bricks. The unusual fact about this cathedral is that the architects who designed the Annunciation Cathedral were from Pskov, even though most of the important buildings of Moscow during that time were designed by great architects from Italy, and the Annunciation Cathedral became one of the few exceptions of that fact.
The Cathedral of Annunciation was built in 1484 with the extant foundations of the previous church. Since the cathedral was built close to the palace, Ivan III chose it as his personal chapel and linked the palace to the cathedral with a staircase. This cathedral was quite important for the imperial family throughout the Tsarism era, besides the personal place of worship for the imperial family, most of the weddings, and baptism of their children were taken place in there. Even after the transfer of capital to St. Petersburg from Moscow, the cathedral kept its influences on the imperial family.
Moscow faced many civil and foreign wars, and there were also several natural or manufactured disasters throughout its history. The Cathedral of Annunciation and any other buildings in the city damaged severely because of those events. For example, the Cathedral of Annunciation lost all of its valuables and treasures during the Polish invasion. A great part of the cathedral seriously damaged during the fire of 1737, and the French invaders looted the cathedral and turned it to a barracks while they were there.
The Cathedral of Annunciation caught in the line of fire and got lots of damages at the beginning days of the Revolution of 1917. Following the Bolsheviks' success in the revolution, the cathedrals all around Russia were forced to stop providing religion services. Most of the cathedrals were demolished or turned to a museum during that time. The Cathedral of Annunciation didn't close the museum after the fall of the Soviet Union and kept welcoming the tourists alongside giving daily religion services.
The Cathedral of Annunciation is smaller and has a simpler design compared to the other two cathedrals inside Kremlin. That was because of the architects from Psvek who were not as skillful as the Italian architects in that time. The Cathedral of Annunciation with its nine golden domes which caught tourists’ attention inside the Cathedral Square originally had only three domes. After the fire of 1547 which severely damaged the cathedral, Ivan the Terrible decided to rebuild the city, so the cathedral got two more main domes, plus four new chapels which each of them had their own golden dome that made nine domes for the cathedral in overall.
The exterior of the cathedral was designed with bricks and covered with white limestone which was inspired by the Italian Renascence architecture. The bronze doors of the cathedral were covered with gold layers. The interior was designed and built with the focus on the main altar and several smaller chapels around it. There are several icons and iconostasis by major Russian artists of the 14th and the 15th centuries in each corner of the cathedral. One of the interesting fact about the cathedral for the tourists is the door wings which are adorned with figures of ancient sophists. The central vault of the cathedral decorated with an enormous iconostasis that contains icons which painted between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Today, the cathedral of Annunciation is giving the daily church services, and also house the museum that founded in the Soviet era. Tourists from all around the world visit the cathedral to see the antiques and treasures that the Cathedral of Annunciation gathered throughout the time. There are also several marvelous icons and iconostasis that can fascinate the visitors. The story of the cathedral and history of the events involving the cathedral are also completely explained in the museum of the cathedral. The collections of the museum which are displayed so far in the museum include weapons, armors, the Tsar’s crown, Tsars’ personal belongings, manuscripts, rare books, and paintings. However, since the cathedral’s museum is under the supervision of the Kremlin museum, there are several temporary exhibitions taken place there from the Kremlin Museum.
There is a saying that says, if you don’t visit Kremlin or Red Square in your travel to Moscow, it’s like you have never been in Moscow at all. Kremlin is the heart of Moscow, and including it in your Moscow tour is quite necessary. Though we can confidently say that Kremlin is in your Russia tour places to visit list, getting inside each one of the attractions inside Kremlin is up to your interest. Since there are lots of attractions inside Red Square and Kremlin, you should choose which one is more interesting to you, and put aside some times to investigate them in your Russia tour program. Most of the Russia tour agencies include some of the attractions inside Kremlin in their tour program, but if you want some specific visits like the inside of Cathedral of Annunciation, you should fix this with your Moscow tour management beforehand.