The Blagoveshchensky Cathedral (Annunciation Cathedral) was constructed on the orders of Grand Duke Ivan III between 1484 and 1489. Unlike the other churches on the Moscow Kremlin's Cathedral Square, which were built by Italian architects, the Annunciation Cathedral was constructed by masters from Pskov. The form of the Annunciation Cathedral was further enhanced under Ivan the Terrible, who sought to make it a more fitting chapel for the royal family.
Did you know? According to legend, Ivan the Terrible was standing on the porch of the Annunciation Cathedral when he saw a comet. Astrologers and fortune tellers believed it to foretell his imminent death, and Ivan soon died from a stroke while playing a game of chess. He is buried in the Archangel Cathedral on the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square.
Ivan III intended the Annunciation Cathedral to be the personal chapel for Russia’s royal family, and it was connected to the ceremonial and living quarters of the Kremlin Palace by a stair-passage. In documents of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Annunciation Cathedral is referred to as 'the Prince’s Court’ and ‘the Anteroom’. It was the setting for special occasions from the middle of the 16th century onwards, including royal marriages and baptisms, reception of foreign ambassadors, and important religious ceremonies. Even after St Petersburg became the capital of Russia, the Annunciation Cathedral still retained its importance.
Did you know? The Annunciation Cathedral basement held the royal treasury, though many priceless items were looted by the Lithuanian-Polish army in 1612 and by Napoleon’s army 200 years later.
The Annunciation Cathedral was closed following the October Revolution, and suffered damage during the Civil War. However, it was later restored and transformed into a museum to protect the treasures that lay inside. Since 1993, the Patriarch of Russia has led a church service at the Annunciation Cathedral to mark the Feast of the Annunciation.
Despite its small size the Annunciation Cathedral is a true work of art, both inside and out. Nine golden domes sit atop the white stone church, and its design embodies the religious architectural traditions of ancient Pskov and Moscow, decorated with tiers of semi-circular niches and kokoshniks, arches, and elegant fretwork.
Underneath its many gilded domes, the cathedral is adorned with murals of religious and royal figures and scenes (some murals are originals from the 16th century), and icons by masters including Simon Ushakov and Andrey Rublev. Inside stands one of Russia’s oldest iconostases, decorated with icons from the 14th to 19th centuries, and in its centre is a silver door leading to the staircase to the Tsar’s personal chambers in the Kremlin Palace.
Did you know? Interestingly, the murals adorning the cathedral’s porch depict Ancient Greek philosophers!
The basement of the Annunciation Cathedral houses an exhibition dedicated to the history of the settlement of Borovitsky Hill (upon which the Kremlin was constructed) and a collection of the Kremlin’s treasures and antiques from the 12th and 17th centuries. The Southern Gallery on the first floor is home to an exhibition of precious icons, religious sculpture and reliquaries.
Essential information for visitors
Address and Contact Details
Sobornaya Ploshchad, Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, 103132
Tel: +7 (495) 695-46-31 (ticket bureau)
Nearest metro: Biblioteka Imeni Lenina/Alexandrovsky Sad/Borovitskaya (550m)
From 15th May to 30th September - 9:30 to 18:00, from 1st October to 14th May - 10:00 to 17:00. Closed on Thursdays.
Ticket price to visit the Cathedral Square ensemble, including the Annunciation Cathedral, is 700 roubles.
Join us on Facebook
We invite you to become a fan of our company on Facebook and read Russian news and travel stories. To become a fan, click here.
Join our own Russian Travel, Culture and Literature Club on Facebook. The club was created to be a place for everyone with an interest in Russia to get to know each other and share experiences, stories, pictures and advice. To join our club, please follow this link.