Cathedral of the Annunciation (Moscow Kremlin)
The Cathedral of the Annunciation (Russian: Благовещенский собор, or Blagoveschensky sobor) is a cathedral in the Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos. It was built in the late fifteenth century and is the second oldest cathedral in the Kremlin.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation was built on the Cathedral Square (Sobornaya Square) by the master builders Kryvtsov and Myshkin from Pskov between 1484 and 1489. It was erected on the spot of an older fourteenth century cathedral of the same name that had been rebuilt in 1416. Initially, the Cathedral of the Annunciation had three cupolas. In the mid sixteenth century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible six gilded cupolas, including two false ones built on the oldest eastern portion of the building, were added to the cathedral, giving it the unique look of nine domes.
The cathedral was the home church of the Muscovite tsars, used as a private chapel for weddings and baptisms. Most notable was its use for the wedding of Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst, better known as Catherine the Great, to Grand Duke Peter. Its abbot remained a personal confessor of the royal family until the early twentieth century.
The cathedral is surrounded by parvises (porticos) on three sides. During the period 1562 to 1564, four single-cupola side chapels were built over the arched parvises. The north and west entrances from the parvise were decorated with whitestone portals in the sixteenth century. The fretwork is influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture. The bronze doors of the north and west portals are decorated with gold foil. The floor of the Cathedral of the Annunciation is made of jasper, which was brought from a cathedral in Rostov Velikiy in the sixteenth century. The walls contain fragments of murals that were painted by Theodosius and others during the second half of the sixteenth and the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. The iconostasis includes icons of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, including those painted by Andrei Rublev, Theophanes the Greek, and Prokhor of Gorodets, as well others done in the nineteenth century.