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The small single-domed church with an exterior stone stairway, adjacent to the public entrance to Assumption Cathedral, is the Church of the Deposition of the Robe. By contrast with its mighty neighbour it seems charmingly petite.
Many visitors ask whose robe it was, and why it was deposited? The legend goes back to ancient Byzantium, where it was said the Virgin Mary's robe was safeguarded – it protected the city against invasion. The grateful townsfolk of Byzantium built a church in the C5th for the better preservation of the sacred garment, where it was hung near the altar. The Festival of the Robe's Deposition remains a feast-day in the Eastern Church.
Moscow's Church of the Deposition of the Robe has connections to this tradition. In July 1451 regiments of Tatar soldiers besieged the city. It happened that on the day of the Festival of the Deposition Of The Robe some internal squabbles amongst them caused the Tatars to give up their siege and leave. The Church Fathers were keen to highlight the religious significance of the date, and in the same year commissioned the building of a Church of the Deposition of the Robe. The present church replaced the earlier one a half-century later.
The Church of the Deposition of the Robe was built by stonemasons from northern Pskov at the end of the C15th – very possibly the same masons who built the Cathedral of the Annunciation at the same period. It stands on the site of a previous church. It functioned at first as the domestic chapel of the Mitropolit of Moscow, then as the private church of the Patriarchs prior to the building of the Church of the Twelve Apostles. By the C17th it had come under the purview of the Crown, and corridors led to the church from the Chambers of the Tsaritsa and her princesses. In the latter C17th the church was expanded by the addition of covered galleries to the northern and western porches.
The Church of the Deposition Of The Robe safeguards the Holy Ikon of St.Nicholas the Wondrous. By tradition unmarried girls have sought St.Nicholas's intercession in their search for a husband. The Church of the Deposition is no longer sanctified and so no devotional candles can be lit – but girls can still come and see the ikon... and they do. St.Nicholas's Name-Day is marked once a year in the church.
Restorers have uncovered hidden frescoes from the C17th within the church, and restored the altar ikon-screen.
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.