Cathedrals in Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral was built to commemorate the capture of the Tatar stronghold of Kazan in 1552, which occured on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin. It is named after St. Basil the Blessed. Basil impressed Ivan in 1547 when he foretold a fire that swept through Moscow that year. Upon his death, Basil was buried in the Trinity Cathedral that stood on this site at the time. The cathedral was constructed from 1 ...
Founded: 1555-1560 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles

The Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles forms part of the same building as the Patriarch"s Palace. Although building began in 1640, the whole ensemble is primarily associated with Patriarch Nikon (1652 - 1658), whose tenure as head of the Russian Church was marked by the schism that separated the Old Believers from the official church, and by ongoing conflict with Tsar Aleksei. The site of the Palace dates back further ...
Founded: 1640-1653 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Dormition Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Dormition is located on the north side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia, where a narrow alley separates the north from the Patriarch"s Palace with the Twelve Apostles Church. The Cathedral is regarded as the mother church of Muscovite Russia. In its present form it was constructed between 1475–79 at the behest of the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III by the Italian architect Ari ...
Founded: 1475-1479 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg. The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure, and was the fourth consecutive church standing at this place. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786?1858), who ...
Founded: 1818-1858 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Archangel

The Archangel Michael, a suitably war-like heavenly figure, was chosen as the patron saint of the rulers of Muscovy in the 14th century. The Cathedral that bears his name was erected between 1505 and 1508 - the culmination of a grandiose building project begun by Ivan the Great to reflect the growing power of the state, and provide a fitting resting place for Russian Royalty. The cathedral was built under the guidance of ...
Founded: 1505-1508 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral"s bell tower is the world"s tallest Orthodox bell tower. S ...
Founded: 1712-1733 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Annunciation

The first church was built on the site of current Cathedral of the Annunciation in 1397 by order of Grand Duke Vassily I. The present building dates from 1484, when Ivan III (the Great), the great Muscovite empire-builder, ordered a new cathedral. It was completed in 1489 by Krivtsov and Mishkin, masons from Pskov, who blended Greek and Russian styles in their design. Generations of princes and tsars added to and altered ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia. The construction was started in 1801 and continued for ten years (supervised by Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov). Upon its completion the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos, which was disassembled when the Kazan Cathedral was consecrated. It was modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after St. Peter"s Basili ...
Founded: 1801 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

One of the most imposing and controversial buildings in Russia, the resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has had a short but turbulent history. It was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon, but work did not begin on its construction until 1839. Designed by the great St. Petersburg architect Konstantin Ton, who was also responsible for the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Kremlin Armoury and whose church ...
Founded: 1839-1883 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kronstadt Naval Cathedral

The Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is a Russian Orthodox cathedral built in 1903–1913 as the main church of the Baltic Fleet and dedicated to all fallen seamen. The cathedral was closed in 1929, and was converted to a cinema, a House of Officers (1939) and a museum of the Navy (1980). The Russian Orthodox Church reinstalled the cross on the main dome in 2002 and served the first Divine Liturgy in the ...
Founded: 1903-1913 | Location: Kronstadt, Russia

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia"s Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s t ...
Founded: 1045-1050 | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Smolny Convent

Smolny Convent (Voskresensky) is a Russian Orthodox convent built to house Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. After she was disallowed succession to the throne, she opted to become a nun. However her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI was overthrown during a coup d"état (carried out by the royal guards in 1741). Elizabeth then decided against entering monastic life and accepted the offer of the Russian thr ...
Founded: 1748-1764 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Nativity

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal is one of the eight White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. One of the most complex monuments of Russian medieval architecture. It was originally constructed during the reign of Vladimir II Monomakh during the late 11th century. The Cathedral of the Nativity is surrounded by a ring of earthen walls in an oxbow of Kamenka River. It is notable for being the first cit ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Dormition Cathedral

Dormition Cathedral or Assumption Cathedral used to be a mother church of medieval Russia in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. The cathedral was commissioned by Andrew the Pious in his capital Vladimir and dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), whom he promoted as the patron saint of his lands. Originally erected in 1158 ...
Founded: 1158 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Saint Sophia Cathedral

Saint Sophia Cathedral is the oldest surviving building in the city of Vologda. It was built in 1568-1570, when Ivan the Terrible introduced the Oprichnina and made Vologda its capital. The model after which the cathedral was built was the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Ivan personally supervised the construction, and the builders were permitted to use almost unlimited resources. Ivan also, for unknown reason ...
Founded: 1568-1587 | Location: Vologda, Russia

Michael the Archangel Cathedral

There were originally several churches in the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, but today only Michael the Archangel Cathedral exists. It was built in the middle of the 16th century and rebuilt in 1628-1631. The cathedral is the tomb of Kuzma Minin. In 1828, in front of the Archangel Cathedral was constructed the obelisk in honor of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky (by architects Melnikov and Martos).
Founded: 1628-1631 | Location: Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia

Cathedral of Saint Demetrius

The Cathedral of St Demetrius (1194-97) is a royal church, built to the order of Grand Prince Vsevolod III. It is cubic in form, with three internal naves and a helmet dome. The cathedral is one-domed and four-pillared. Originally it was surrounded by galleries with towers that connected it to the prince"s palace. They were demolished during the restoration in the 19th century. The church is famous for its white-sto ...
Founded: 1194-1197 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Saviour Cathedral

The unassuming Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, with its white walls, green roof, and single onion dome, is an edifice that was built in 1152. It is one of the oldest churches in Russia.
Founded: 1152 | Location: Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia

Ipatiev Monastery

The Ipatiev Monastery is a male monastery situated on the bank of the Kostroma River just opposite the city of Kostroma. It was founded around 1330 by a Tatar convert, Prince Chet, whose male-line descendants include Solomonia Saburova and Boris Godunov. In 1435, Vasily II concluded a peace with his cousin Vasily Kosoy there. At that time, the cloister was a notable centre of learning. It was here that Nikolay Karamzin d ...
Founded: 1330 | Location: Kostroma, Russia

Saint Nicholas Cathedral

Saint Nicholas Cathedral (Nikolo-Dvorishchensky Cathedral), founded by Mstislav the Great in 1113 and consecrated in 1136, is the oldest surviving building in the central part of Veliky Novgorod after the Saint Sophia Cathedral. It is on the World Heritage list as a part of object 604 Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings. The cathedral is located outside of the kremlin walls, on the right bank of the Volkhov R ...
Founded: 1113-1136 | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.