European Countries

Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye (World Heritage)

The Resurrection Cathedral (also the Assumption Cathedral) in the Tsar’s residence Kolomenskoye southeast of downtown Moscow exerted a great influence on church architecture in Russia. It was built in 1532 out of gratitude for the birth of the heir to the throne Ivan (the Terrible).

Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye: facts

Official title: Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye
Cultural monument: the 63 m high, arcaded and 3 to 4 m thick walls of the Resurrection or Ascension Church, not a cross-dome building according to Byzantine tradition, but a pillar-shaped tent roof church made of bricks and limestone on a cross-shaped floor plan
Continent: Europe
Country: Russia
Location: Kolomenskoye, on the outskirts of Moscow
Appointment: 1994
Meaning: the first Russian tent roof church, of great influence on the sacred architecture of Russia

Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye: history

1479-1533 Tsar Vasily III.
1530-32 Construction of the church under Tsar Vasily III, presumably to celebrate the birth of the future Tsar Ivan IV.
1530-84 Ivan IV, called “the terrible”
1655 Patriarch Nikon bans the construction of tent roof churches
1672-1725 Peter I, called the Great, Tsar 1682-1725

Wonderful striving upwards

Whenever Peter the Great approached Moscow from the south, he would stop in Kolomenskoye, the old summer residence of the tsars. In the idyllic place high above the banks of the Moskva, the Russian reformer prepared for his stay in the unpopular former capital of his empire. With the naked eye he could see the towers of the Kremlin, in which, when he was ten years old, he was almost murdered in 1682 in a revolt by the Strelitzen, the bodyguard created by Ivan IV. With the village of Kolomenskoye and the residence, however, he had more pleasant memories: Here he had felt safe from the Strelitzen in the uncertain years of his youth.

It is uncertain whether the Tsar properly appreciated the Church of the Resurrection near the residence on the steep bank of the Moskva. As you know, he was more interested in shipbuilding and artillery technology. The ruler who believes in progress could have seen from the church that Russian builders could achieve masterpieces even without European assistance. But the tsar was not too interested in art history.

This sacred building from Kolomenskoye was donated by Vasily III. after the birth of the heir to the throne, the future Tsar Ivan IV. At 63 meters, the tower, which was imposing for the time, rose above the other buildings, but blended harmoniously into the landscape of the banks of the Moscow River. Tsar Vasily III. was probably satisfied with the building, at least he let the people celebrate for three days.

The master builder, who has remained hidden in the dark of history to this day, combined erudition with artistic talent and the courage to try new things. On the one hand, strictly speaking, the church consists only of the tower. On the other hand, he executed the traditional wooden style for the first time in Russian architectural history in stone. And finally, he integrated secular, even military style elements into a sacred building: the church was supposed to provide important services as a fortified church. In his tower sat a guard who was supposed to give light signals to the bell tower Ivan Veliki of the Kremlin when the Tatars approached.

The sacred building, also known as the Church of the Ascension of Christ, is impressively simple and thus fulfills the most important characteristic of great art: the octagonal church area rises in front of the eye of the beholder, which leads through staggered keel arches to the narrower, octagonal tower shaft on which the octagonal tower shaft Tent roof sits. The church consists only of this tower, the actual church space measures eight and a half square meters. The church is surrounded by gallery-like extensions; There are storage rooms in the plinth – after all, the fortified church, which was built far from the walls of Moscow, was supposed to be equipped for siege and battle.

The church, which can do without the sheen of golden domes, is considered by connoisseurs to be the most beautiful tent-roofed church in ancient Russia. It was so convincing that it had a decisive influence on Russian church construction in the 16th and 17th centuries: According to computergees, Russian churches, comparable to Gothic cathedrals, also strived upwards and showed the mutual influence of sacred and secular architecture. Presumably, the Russian rulers instinctively understood what a gem was standing nearby. The magnificent buildings of the residences fell into disrepair over time and were demolished, but the Church of the Resurrection survived good and bad times: the well-known French composer of the 19th century, Hector Berlioz, saw it during a stay in Russia and was delighted. In a letter to Prince Vladimir Odojewski, he wrote: “Nothing excited me as much as the old Russian monument in the village of Kolomenskoye (…). I saw the Strasbourg Cathedral, which was built over several centuries, I stood next to the Milan Cathedral, but I couldn’t find anything besides the jewelry. But here I was standing in front of the beauty in person (…). I felt the striving upwards, I stood there completely numb. ”

Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye