Cathedral of the Archangel in Moscow

The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel (Russian: Собор святого Архистратига Михаила в Кремле) is an Orthodox church located on the Cathedral Square in Moscow. Architect Aloisio the New (in Russian as Aleviz Novyi or Aleviz Fryazin) built it in 1508. Included in the State Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Moscow Kremlin“.

All Russian tsars and grand princes were buried in the cathedral until the time of Peter the Great.

Moscow Prince Mikhail Khorobrit, brother of Alexander Nevsky built the first wooden temple in the name of the Holy Archangel Michael, presumably in 1247-1248. In 1333, a white-stone Archangel Church was erected in its place, and Metropolitan Theognost consecrated it. The construction was erected by decree of Ivan Kalita in gratitude for the deliverance of Rus’ from hunger caused by grown, but not given grain rye. Presumably, it was a small one-domed temple, similar to the Savior on Bor. It served as the tomb of the grand-ducal family. At the end of the XIV century, the icon painter Theophanes the Greek and his students painted the cathedral and created new icons for the high two-tiered iconostasis.

By the beginning of the 16th century, the temple had fallen into disrepair and was overflowing with the tombs of the dead. It was dismantled in 1505 by the decree of Ivan III. The construction of the new cathedral was entrusted to the Italian architect Aloisio, who received the nickname “New”.

Later the new cathedral was damaged in a fire in 1547. Novgorod and Pskov masters restored the paintings that fire had damaged.

The general restoration of the Archangel Cathedral for the cleaning and renewal of icons and murals was conducted in 1853 under the guidance of the artist N. A. Kozlov. In the 1870s, Nikolai Podklyuchnikov restored the icons.

In 1895, the temple came under the authority of the Moscow Palace Office. Two years later, the workshop of Yakov Efimovich Epanechnikov under the supervision of the Moscow Archaeological Society conducted the restoration of the iconostasis and images.

Like other temples of the Kremlin, the cathedral was closed in 1918, but restoration work began. In the 1920s, specialists of the All-Russian Artistic Research and Restoration Center named after I.E Grabar strengthened and covered local and large central icons with drying oil; the wooden vestibule was removed, which hid the painting of the loggia on the western facade, and the pseudo-Gothic portico of the 18th century was dismantled.

In 1955 the cathedral was converted into a museum. In the same year, restoration work began, in which the central scientific and production workshop of the USSR Academy of Architecture was involved.

In 1969, on the initiative of the chief architect of the Kremlin, Vladimir Ivanovich Fedorov, the department of the All-Russian Industrial Research and Restoration Combine conducted the restoration of the painting in the drums of the cathedral. In the 1970s, the frescoes were restored, the icons were washed, and the base of the iconostasis was strengthened. Divine services have been held in the cathedral since 1991.


Compared with the other two major Kremlin cathedrals, the Archangel Cathedral is substantially different in style, despite maintaining a traditional layout. It echoes the layout of the Assumption Cathedral in its use of five domes (representing Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists). However, the exterior ornamentation and its characteristic semi-circular niches with shell-shaped ornaments and gateways with arc-shaped frames made of white limestone, which are coated with paint and decorated with floral ornaments reveal its Italian Renaissance influence.

The interior of the cathedral, however, was largely constructed in a manner typical for Russian churches. The large iconostasis of the cathedral of the archangel, 13 meters high, dates from 1678 to 1681. The icon of Archangel Michael, the oldest in the iconostasis, is believed to have been created for Princess Eudoxia, the wife of Dmitri Donskoi inmemory of the victory in the Battle of Kulikovo.

The wall frescoes date to the 16th and 17th centuries. Yakov of Kazan, Stepan of Ryazan, Joseph Vladimirov and others painted some between 1652 and 1666.


In October 1508, Grand Duke Vasily III ordered the preparation of places and the transfer of the relics of the ancestors of his Grand Dukes of Russia to the new Archangel Cathedral. It contains 46 tombs and 54 burials. Burials were made in white-stone sarcophagi, which were lowered under the floor into the ground.

In the years 1630-1638, all the tombstones that existed by that time were replaced with the same type of brick, with carved white stone walls. In 1906, the tombstones were covered with bronze cases. Ivan Kalita was the first to be buried in the temple; his tomb is set against the southern wall. Along the western side, there are sarcophagi of close relatives of the Grand Dukes, along the northern side, there are sarcophagi of princes who fell into disfavor and died a violent death.

At the northwestern and southwestern pillars, representatives of the Tatar nobility who converted to Orthodoxy and were at the Russian court were buried.

Tsars from the Romanov dynasty are buried at the southeastern and northeastern pillars. Behind the iconostasis on the south side are the burial places of Ivan IV the Terrible, and his sons Ivan and Fyodor, in the aisle of John the Baptist – the burial place of commander Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky.

The cathedral also houses the tombs of specific princes from the Moscow princely house – Yuri Zvenigorodsky, Vasily Kosoy, Yuri Dmitrovsky, Vasily Borovsky, Andrey Uglitsky, Vladimir the Brave, Andrey Serpukhovsky.

At the southeastern pillar, under the carved white-stone canopy of the first half of the 17th century, there is a shrine with the relics of Tsarevich Dmitry Uglichsky; in 1630, the chaser Gavriil Ovdokimov made a silver shrine with a relief image of the prince, now kept in the Armoury.

On the north side, there is a shrine with the relics of Prince Mikhail of Chernigov. It was moved from the church that stood above the building of orders and demolished during the construction of the Bazhenov Kremlin Palace. The last burial in the Archangel Cathedral occurred in 1730 when Emperor Peter II was buried near the northeastern pillar. Opposite the tombstones are full-length images of almost all the great princes buried here.

Opening hours of the museum from 10.00 to 17.00. Ticket offices from 9.30 to 16.30. Day off – Thursday.

Other places to visit inside the Kremlin ensemble


Cathedral of the Annunciation

Dormition Cathedral

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

Tsar Bell

Tsar Cannon

Palace of Facets

See also architecture of Moscowchurches and cathedrals of Moscow

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