Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles

Moscow, Russia

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, however. Since the early 14th Century this plot of land had been the Metropolitan's, and then the Patriarch's estate. The Cathedral forms the grand entrance to the luxurious Palace, and was built on Nikon's own initiative - the atrium of the church led directly to the Patriarch's stone cell. The design of the Cathedral is based on the old churches of Vladimir and Suzdal, with four supporting columns, five cupolas, and a high, two-tiered porch on the northern face. Although the smooth, somewhat austere exterior of the building is unobtrusive, the original interiors of the Palace were reportedly astonishingly lavish, rivalling the Tsar's own Terem Palace in luxury and wealth.

The five-tier iconostasis in the Cathedral was transferred here from the Ascension Monastery, which was destroyed in the 1920s. The Cathedral also contains images of Saints Peter and Paul drawn in the 12th Century, which were a gift to Peter the Great from the papacy. The Cathedral was closed down in 1918, and the ground floor of the Palace and Cathedral now houses the Museum of 17th Century Life and Applied Art, which contains a number of icons from various of the Kremlin cathedrals, as well as furniture and ecclesiastical costumes from the time.

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Founded: 1640-1653
Category: Religious sites in Russia

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