THE CANDLEMAS CATHEDRAL

Close

At the top from left to right are the Candlemas Church, the Imperial Palace by Rastrelli-Stasov, the Archangel CathedralThe Candlemas Cathedral was erected in 1561 as a family chapel by the new wooden mansions, built by Ivan the Terrible for his sons – Princes Ivan and Fyodor. The wooden palace was put on the ‘vzrub’ – a special construction consisting of the covered up with soil blockhouses that strengthen the slopes of the hill. The stone temple was situated eastwards of the new mansions and, from the west, it adjoined the Riverside Chamber. This building was hastily launched by Ivan the Terrible right after the death of Tsarina Anastasia Romanova in August 1560. After half a year the building was finished, and, in February 1561, the consecrated church began to be reckoned among the cathedrals. A warm side chapel of St Nicetas Stylites, the Wonderworker of Pereyaslavl, who was revered by the royal family, was arranged for the tsar’s children at the Candlemas Cathedral.

One can judge the architecture of the cathedral only by the preserved graphical images. The most ancient one is on the Kremlin map of the early 17th century. It shows a single-dome temple that stands on the two-tier arched gallery, surrounding it as a portico. At the eastern wall, there is a flat-arched three-part altar, which is crowned by three cupolas, obviously above the side chapels. The miniature of 1673 depicts above the apses two cupolas of the side chapels with two tiers of small frontons at the drums’ base, and each wall of the cathedral ends with a single sharp fronton. The engraving of the early 18th century shows the same roofing of the temple.

On the measurement charts of the palace complex, made by the team of D. V. Ukhtomsky, the single-dome cathedral already has a hipped roof and one more side chapel with a small cupola from the western side. The façades of the Candlemas Cathedral were decorated with panels, which resemble the finishing of the upper side chapels of the Annunciation Cathedral, built several years later. The plan of the ground floor under the cathedral shows a driveway arch, which joined the Sovereign’s Forecourt with the inner court of the Zapasnoy Palace (literally ‘reserve’ palace) that was built under Boris Godunov in the place of the wooden mansions of the princes. 

According to the 18th-century inventory of palace buildings, the Candlemas Cathedral together with an altar occupied 7 sazhen in length and 4 sazhen in width 1 sazhen equals 2.3 meters).  It had 19 windows with a mica frame. It also lists five cupolas with mica frames, oaken floors with jambs and three iron folding doors. By the church, there are mentioned a slype of 1.5 sazhen wide with banisters and, from the southern side, a side chapel of St Nicholas the Wonderworker with a refectory.

In 1663, when Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich built a cathedral Church of the Holy Mandylion by the Terem Palace, the Candlemas Cathedral lost its status as a palace cathedral temple. The same happened to the Annunciation Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.

Numerous fires of the first half of the 18th century, especially in 1701 and 1737, inflicted heavy destruction on all palatial buildings. After that, the palace was not completely reconstructed and, by the beginning of the 19th century, some of its buildings,  including the Candlemas Cathedral, were in an advanced state of decay.

During the cleaning of the dilapidated edifices from the Kremlin territory, launched by the Head of the Palace Office P. S. Valuev, the Candlemas Cathedral was dismantled together with other ramshackle buildings in 1801. According to P. S. Valuev, the temple threatened “…with its prompt and inevitable fall”.  

The Kremlin Palace of the late 15th-16th centuries. The Dining Chamber, the Candlemas Cathedral, a part of the Godunov’s palace. The southern façade.