The Assumption (Uspensky) Cathedral of the Mosacow Kremlin is one of the greatest Russian shrines. The cathedral was a spiritual and political heart of the country during several centuries. Here Grand Dukes were set for reigning, czars crowned, emperors coronated, acts of state read out, bishops, metropolitans and patriarchs inaugurated.
The Cathedral dates back to 1326 when the Great Duke Ivan Kalita ("Money-bag") and Metropolitan Peter laid the foundation stone of the first stone cathedral in Moscow dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. Moscow becoming the first capital encouraged its construction. It was the Assumption Cathedral of Moscow, and not the one of Vladimir, that henceforward were meant to be the principal temple of the Holy Russia.
First Moscovite Metropolitan Peter was a key player in the Cathedral's construction. There he was buried (in the still uncompleted cathedral). Ivan Kalita dedicated the Church of the Veneration of the chains of the Holy Apostle Peter, becoming the Assumption Cathedral's aisle, to Metropolitan Peter. The Metropolitan's name is related to a small icon called "Holy Mother Petrovskaya". According to a legend the icon was painted by Metropolitan Peter himself when he was a young monk in Volynia. It was given as a present to Metropolitam Maksim and later stored in the Cathedral as one of the greatest moscovite shrines. Its extant copy is painted a few decades after the Metropolitan's death.
In the end of the fifteenth century the Great Duke Ivan III, that united all Russian principalities under the rule of Moscow, began creation of his new residence with the Assumption Cathedral reconstruction. In 1472 it was dismantled to the ground along with finding of the relics of St. Peter. Pskovian masters Krivtsov and Myshkin built a new cathedral up, but it unexpectedly thumbled down. Then Ivan III invited Aristotele Fioravanti and the building beautifying the Moscow Kremlin under till now was constructed under his guidance (1475-1479).
Fioravanti was instructed to copy the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir in order to underline succession of one of the ancient centers of the Holy Russia by Moscow.
On August 20, 1479 Metropolitan Geronty dedicated the Cathedral. The relics of St. Peter placed during the construction in the Church of St. John the Evangelist were carried to the Cathedral.
Twelve plaques illustrate "the Legend of Vladimir knyazs" narrates importation to Russia from Byzantium of czar's regalia — the Monomakh's cap, barm (сeremonial shoulders) and other items.
From 1326, when Metropolitan Peter was buried in the Cathedral, and till 1700 it was the burial vault of the Primates of the Russian Church — metropolitans and patriarchs. 19 tombs are located along the walls of the Cathedral. The holy relics of Moscow Wonderworkers Peter, Jonah, Philip and Hermogenes are buried in wood, decorated with metal plates shrines — reliquaries.
During the Patriotic war of 1812 the Cathedral was ransacked by Napoleon's troops. The magnificent chandelier, which now hangs in the center of the Cathedral, was forged out of the part of the silver seized from the French by the Russian Cossacks.
The South doors brought to Moscow from the Suzdal Cathedral and dated the early XV century century are the oldest monument of applied art in the Cathedral; they are painted in gold on black varnish with 20 images on biblical themes.
After the October revolution the Assumption Cathedral was turned into the Museum. Creating its exhibition, the staff tried to preserve its interior. Frequently older icons and murals were discovered under the later images due to permanent restoration works.
In 1990 the masses in the Cathedral were resumed.