This dominating structure is one of the oldest edifices of the Kremlin, built in 1475–79 by the Italian architect Aristotle Fiorovanti, who had spent many years in Russia studying traditional Russian architecture. Until the 1917 revolution, this was Russia's principal church, where the crowning ceremonies of the tsars took place, a tradition that continued even after the capital was transferred to St. Petersburg. Patriarchs and metropolitans were enthroned and buried here.
Topped by five gilded domes, the cathedral is both austere and solemn. The ceremonial entrance faces Cathedral Square; the visitor entrance is on the west side (to the left). After visiting the Archangel and Annunciation cathedrals, you may be struck by the spacious interior here, unusual for a medieval church. Light pours in through two rows of narrow windows. The cathedral contains rare ancient paintings, including the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir (the work of an 11th-century Byzantine artist), the 12th-century
icon of St. George, and the 14th-century Trinity icon. The carved throne in the right-hand corner belonged to Ivan the Terrible, and the gilt wood throne to the far left was the seat of the tsarina. Between the two is the patriarch's throne.
After the revolution the church was turned into a museum, but in 1989 religious services were resumed on major church holidays.