Astrakhan, Assumption Cathedral on the territory of the Astrakhan Kremlin: history, description, address
“Russian” Astrakhan appeared in 1558, after the Streletsky head Cheremisanov and military engineer IG Vyrodkov, transferred by Ivan the Terrible, transferred the ancient Golden Horde city to a new place. They began construction of the Kremlin. At the end of the 17th century, the Assumption Cathedral was built there. The city of Astrakhan today adorns this magnificent structure, the history and description of which is devoted to our article.
The first cathedral in Astrakhan was built in 1568 under the leadership of Hegumen Cyril. It was a small wooden structure. It was decided to consecrate in honor of the Presentation of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, sent by Tsar John the Terrible as a blessing to the new fortress.
From the very first days of its foundation, Astrakhan began to grow rapidly, as it was located at a busy crossroads of trade routes from Europe to Asia.Soon the population of the city increased several times, and the old cathedral could no longer accommodate everyone who wanted to attend church services. In addition, the wooden building was built hastily, and for 30 years has decayed greatly.
In the early 1590s, with the blessing of the patriarch, Hegumen Theodosius arrived in Astrakhan, who was commissioned to build a "cathedral and apostolic church" instead of the old one. Work on its construction lasted about 10 years. The stone church was consecrated in 1602 in honor of the Assumption of the Mother of God. He became the center of the religious and social life of the city. The icon of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was also transferred there.
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
By the end of the 17th century, the main stone church of the Kremlin began to decline. The then Astrakhan Metropolitan Savvati engaged in raising funds for the construction of a new cathedral. Donations of citizens amounted to 10 000 rubles. However, the metropolitan died before construction began. The work that had just begun was suspended, and the money collected by him was transferred to the civil department. When the new metropolitan Sampson decided to return to the implementation of the plan of his predecessor, it turned out that most of the amount was “lost”, and he was given only 3,996 rubles.This money was barely enough to pay the workers who were engaged in dismantling the old cathedral, and to purchase building materials for the construction of a new one. Then the archpastor wrote to Tsar Peter Alekseevich and asked for money. Although in the capital they did not respond to the request of the metropolitan, the local merchants, hurt by the living, decided to support the lord and donated a large sum for the charitable cause.
The Metropolitan drew serf architect Dorofey Myakishev to work on the new cathedral and hired thirty masons. According to the Klyucharyov Chronicle, they began laying the foundation on October 1, 1699. Construction lasted 12 years, and each worker received 13 rubles.
At the initial stage, the architect intended to make the cathedral one-dome. However, in 1702, due to the violation of the construction technology, the vault of the temple collapsed. Then Myakishev replaced one huge dome with five small ones.
In 1705, the works were suspended, as the city and the Astrakhan Kremlin were in the epicenter of the Streltsy “wedding” rebellion. After the order was restored, the bricklayers resumed their work.In 1707, the lower church was lit in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and it was used as a tomb for important church dignitaries.
A year later, the chapel of Saints Cyril and Athanasius of Alexandria was created in it, but the work had to be stopped again, as the recently erected congregational heads damaged the great fire. The main work on the construction of the cathedral was completed only by the beginning of 1710, and on August 14 it was consecrated.
At the time of the beginning of the services, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a magnificent sight and was one of the most beautiful structures in Astrakhan. Architecturally, it had a regular cubic shape, it was decorated with five chapters. Outside, the cathedral was decorated with shaped bricks and decorated with elaborate carving on white stone. Semicircular arches (three on each side of the building) were covered with paintings on biblical scenes, and the windows and dome heads framed columns with a lush Corinthian decor, which Astrakhan had not yet seen.
Assumption Cathedral, the construction history of which you already know, was divided into 2 floors. The upper, “cold” church, consecrated in honor of the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God,It was intended for “summer” services, and the lower one was not only a tomb of local Orthodox hierarchs, but also a “winter” heated temple. On the west side, the cathedral gallery appeared on the so-called frontal place. It served as a platform for mass prayers of residents of Astrakhan on solemn occasions and bishops.
Interior of the upper temple
The main attraction of the Assumption Cathedral was the iconostasis. It was considered unique because, contrary to the traditions of Russian church architecture, it had 8 tiers. The creation of the iconostasis worked Matvey Loginov, as well as Ivan Timofeev with his son Terentiy.
Icons for the Assumption Church were commissioned by such famous masters as Kazan icon painter Nikifor Popov and house painter of the famous merchant G. D. Stroganov Ivan Andreev. The iconostasis was decorated with silver royal gates. For the cathedral they were made in St. Petersburg by the German jeweler Theodore Shtend. The customer was a merchant P. Sapozhnikov, who brought the royal gates to Astrakhan. Assumption Cathedral again received gifts from this benefactor. For example, in 1812 he donated money for the erection of four massive pillars made of artificial marble, intended to strengthen the arches of the temple.Their bases, as well as ceilings of 5 chapters, were decorated with religious painting. In addition, on the slope of the southern front window on marble was depicted an allied act between the king of Prussia and the emperors of Austria and All-Russia, concluded in 1815. In addition, the admiration of the parishioners caused a huge gilded chandelier, descending on long chains, decorated with lush embossed decor.
Interior of the lower temple
The part of the cathedral, consecrated in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, was significantly different from the upper church. She was deprived of frescoes, lush decor and had a modest iconostasis, since the services in it were performed only on Great Orthodox holidays. At one time, the walls in the temple were covered with gravestone inscriptions, with the names of those hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, the resting place of which was Astrakhan (Assumption Cathedral). Phone, more precisely, the number by which you can sign up for a tour, is available on the official website. And there is something to see here.
One of the most famous priests, whose remains were buried in the lower church of the Assumption Cathedral, was St. Theodosius, who went down in history as the brave exposer of False Dmitriy I.In addition, in the special crypt of the church were the relics of the Metropolitan of Astrakhan and the Holy Martyr Joseph, who was brutally murdered in 1671 by the rebels, led by Stepan Razin.
Although miracles and healings from diseases repeatedly occurred at the tomb of the saint, for a long time he was not canonized. The canonization of the saints of the martyr Joseph did not take place until 1918.
St. Gerasim (Dobroserd), famous for his missionary exploits in the Siberian region, as well as Georgian kings Vakhtang the Sixth and Teimuraz II, who belonged to the last ruling dynasty of Bagration, were buried in the lower church.
Astrakhan. Assumption Cathedral: history in the Soviet period
Events after 1917 became a turning point in the history of the temple. As a result of the searches, the Bolsheviks carried out of it gold and silver church articles and other valuables worth 100,000 rubles. In early 1918, the cathedral was closed for worship, but in 1922 it was returned to believers. However, after 7 years there was a question about the destruction of the temples of the Kremlin, located on the territory of a city like Astrakhan. The Assumption Cathedral avoided destruction, but in 1931 its iconostasis was broken and burned.Then it was handed over to the military, who for 60 years used the temple as an ammunition depot, military barracks, a museum, and a center for propaganda work. Only in 1992, the first service was held in the lower church of the Assumption Cathedral. In the upper church, the first service went a few months later on the day of the memory of the martyr Metropolitan of Astrakhan Joseph.
The current state of the cathedral
Astrakhan Kremlin is the most popular tourist site of the city. Its main gem is the Assumption Cathedral. At the moment, the shrines with the relics of the saints are in the lower church and are available for worshiping believers. In addition, in 2001, most of the remains of the bishops who were buried there before the revolution were returned to the crypt of the cathedral.
The upper church of the Assumption Cathedral in the last 15 years has experienced a rebirth. Its marble walls were restored in historical form, the cast-iron floor was recreated according to the surviving descriptions, and the domes were painted by Palekh masters who took the frescoes of the Moscow Kremlin's cathedral with the same sample. The consecration of the temple after many years of its alienation from the believers took place in August 2009.
Address and contacts
If you arrive in Astrakhan, the Assumption Cathedral (address: Trediakovsky Street, 2/2) can be easily found by going to the local Kremlin. To get there from anywhere in the city is best to take a taxi. You can also use the shuttle bus or bus, following to public transport in the squares to them. Lenin and October.
Be sure to visit Astrakhan. The Assumption Cathedral of the local Kremlin deserves attention not only because of the shrines located there, but also as one of the best examples of Russian architecture of the end of the XVIII century.