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The Archangel Mikhail Cathedral is the large white-stone building decorated with carved sea-shells. Step back a little to take in the whole view, and you will see it has five domes – one gold, and four silver.
The Archangel Mikhail Cathedral is one of the architectural highlights of the Kremlin. At the turn of the C16th Tsar Ivan III the Great decreed the building of a new Archangel Mikhail Cathedral as a burial place for Muscovite Grand-Princes, since the existing Archangel Mikhail cathedral of his own day seemed to him unworthy. An Italian stonemason known as Aleviz Fryazin the Younger in Russian (his Italian name was probably Aloisio Lamberti da Montagnana) began work. Aloisio worked at a frenetic pace (he completed 19 substantial churches in Russia during his career) and the new cathedral was finished in just three years – the consecration ceremony took place in 1508. The cathedral was unveiled to the astonished eyes of Muscovites – a true successor to the previous Archangel Michael Cathedral, but clad in all the glory of the Italian Renaissance.
Just as the other Kremlin cathedrals, a number of priceless items are preserved in the Archangel Mikhail Cathedral. Among the ikons standing in the altar ikon-screen is the Ikon of the Archangel Mikhail, completed at the turn of the C15th, by the legendary master of Russian ikons, Andrei Rublev.
Archangel Mikhail Cathedral is also a burial vault of Russian monarchs from the earliest Rurikid dynasty until the early Romanovs. Archangel Michael is the conductor of souls into the afterlife in the pantheon of Russian saints. The custom of burying monarchs within the church came to Russia from Byzantium, where great dignitaries were awarded his honour.
The Cathedral contains 54 graves, over which tombstones are set. The most honorific places are closest to the altar. Here we find buried the greatest heroes of medieval Russia. The earlier Rurikid monarchs were reburied in this new cathedral along the Western Wall.
When the role of capital city was moved to St.Petersburg formally in 1712, Russian monarchs ceased to be buried here. The new cathedral of Saint Peter & Saint Paul in St.Petersburg contains the remains of Tsar Peter I and his successors. Only Peter II, his grandson, was buried here in 1730 - after his death from smallpox.
Moscow Kremlin is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is the best known of Kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also open-air museum. Tourists can just walk outdoors there or can visit cathedrals, Big Kremlin Palace and the Armory Chamber. The Kremlin Museums were established in 1961 and the complex was among the first Soviet patrimonies inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990.
The site has been continuously inhabited since the 2nd century BC, and originates from a Vyatich fortified structure on Borovitsky Hill where the Neglinnaya River flowed into the Moskva River. Up to the 14th century, the site was known as the 'grad of Moscow'. The grad was greatly extended by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy in 1156, destroyed by the Mongols in 1237 and rebuilt in oak in 1339. Later in 1366–1368Dmitri Donskoy replaced the oak walls with a strong citadel of white limestone on the basic foundations of the current walls. This fortification withstood a siege by Khan Tokhtamysh.
Grand Prince Ivan III organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy who designed the new Kremlin wall and its towers, and the new palace for the prince. It was during his reign that three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Deposition Church, and the Palace of Facets were constructed. The highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia was the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, built in 1505–08. The Kremlin walls as they now appear were built between 1485 and 1495. During the Time of Troubles, the Kremlin was held by the Polish forces for two years, between 21 September 1610 and 26 October 1612. The Kremlin's liberation by the volunteer army of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new czar. During his reign and that of his son Alexis, the eleven-domed Upper Saviour Cathedral, Armorial Gate, Terem Palace, Amusement Palace and the palace of Patriarch Nikon were built. During the Imperial period, from the early 18th and until the late 19th century, Kremlin walls were traditionally painted white, in accordance with the time's fashion. During the Soviet period the Chudov Monastery and Ascension Convent, with their 16th-century cathedrals, were dismantled to make room for the military school and Palace of Congresses. The Little Nicholas Palace and the old Saviour Cathedral were pulled down as well. Now the plans of the government are to restore those lost masterpieces. And probably soon the Kremlin will return all its former buildings.