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 the Cathedral. Ivan IV (the Terrible) had the cathedral rebuilt in the 16th century and added four small side chapels, each with a single dome, while two more domes were added at the rear of the building and all nine domes were gilded. The Tsar was put under church penance when he married for the fourth time (three was the maximum the church would tolerate), and not allowed inside. This led to the construction of a new porch for him to stand under during services.
The cathedral is famous for its magnificent iconostasis, shielding the sacred part of the church from view. Icons by various artists from the 14th to 19th centuries make up the screen. Icons on the diesis (prayer) tier are ascribed to the legendary Russian Painter Andrei Rublev, the greatest of the Russian icon-painters (whose work can also be seen in the State Tretyakov Gallery) and Theosofanus the Greek, possibly Rublev's mentor, with whom he frequently collaborated.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation was originally built as the domestic church of the Grand Dukes and tsars and was connected (along with the Cathedral of the Archangel) by passages to the private quarters of the royal family. The cathedral was used to celebrate name-days, weddings, baptisms and so forth. The Cathedral of the Annunciation was badly damaged during the Revolution, when the Kremlin came under attack from artillery fire. In 1918, the cathedral was closed as a place of worship and now it operates officially as a museum.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.