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Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

The Church of the Ascension was built in 1532 on the imperial estate of Kolomenskoye, near Moscow, to celebrate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV ('the Terrible'). One of the earliest examples of a traditional wooden tent-roofed church on a stone and brick substructure, it had a great influence on the development of Russian ecclesiastical architecture.

Église de l'Ascension à Kolomenskoye

L'église de l'Ascension a été construite en 1532 dans le domaine impérial de Kolomenskoye, à proximité de Moscou, pour célébrer la naissance de celui qui devait devenir Ivan IV le Terrible. C'est l'un des premiers exemples d'églises traditionnelles à toits en pavillon sur une structure de pierre et de brique et elle a eu une grande influence sur le développement de l'architecture religieuse russe.

كنيسة الصعود في كولومينسكوي

بنيت كنيسة الصعود عام 1532 في حرم كولومينسكوي الإمبراطوري على مقربةٍ من موسكو احتفاءً بولادة ذاك الذي أصبح إيفان الرابع الرهيب. وهي أولى الأمثلة عن كنائس تقليديّة ذات سقف فسطاطي قائم على هيكل من حجارة وقرميد ولقد أثّرت جداً في تطوّر الهندسة الدينيّة الروسيّة.

source: UNESCO/ERI



source: UNESCO/ERI

Церковь Вознесения в Коломенском (Москва)

Эта церковь была построена в 1532 г. в царском поместье Коломенское вблизи Москвы в ознаменование появления на свет наследника – будущего царя Ивана IV Грозного. Церковь Вознесения, являющаяся одним из самых ранних примеров выполнения в камне традиционного для деревянной архитектуры шатрового завершения, оказала большое влияние на дальнейшее развитие русской церковной архитектуры.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Iglesia de la Ascensión de Kolomenskoye

Situada cerca de Moscú, en el predio imperial de Kolomenskoye, la iglesia de la Ascensión fue construida en 1532 para celebrar el nacimiento del futuro zar Iván IV el Terrible. Fue una de las primeras iglesias tradicionales con estructura de piedra y ladrillo rematada por una techumbre de madera. Este estilo arquitectónico ejerció una gran influencia la arquitectura religiosa posterior.

source: UNESCO/ERI


source: NFUAJ

Hemelvaartkerk, Kolomenskoje

De Hemelvaartkerk werd in 1532 gebouwd op het keizerlijke landgoed van Kolomenskoje, in de buurt van Moskou, om de geboorte te vieren van de prins die zou uitgroeien tot tsaar Ivan IV (‘de Verschrikkelijke’). Het was ook een van de eerste kerken in Rusland met een traditioneel houten tentdak op een bakstenen fundament. De plattegrond van de kerk is in de vorm van een gelijkarmig kruis, met 'raskrepovkas' (kleine uitsteeksels) in de gevel aan beide zijden. De Hemelvaartkerk kent – heel ongebruikelijk – geen absis. De Hemelvaartkerk had grote invloed op de ontwikkeling van de Russische kerkelijke architectuur.

Source: unesco.nl

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Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye © Sergey Rodovnichenko
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Church of the Ascension was built in 1532, in the imperial estate of Kolomenskoye, near Moscow, to celebrate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV "the Terrible". The church is now situated near the centre of Moscow on the steep slope that descends to the floodplain of the Moscow River. The church represented a new stage in Russian architecture. It is the first tent-roofed church to be built in stone. The remarkable tent roof rises from an octagonal base crowned by small kokoshniks; the base itself also rises from a larger base formed by a series of tiered kokoshniks. Galleries reached by steps at various levels surround the church. In the eastern altar part of the gallery, facing the Moscow River, there is a "royal pew" in the form of a throne with a white-stone ciborium above it. Because of this specific construction, the walls are 2.5 to 3 metres thick, making the interior very small, although the 41-metre high ceilings create a feeling of spaciousness.

The church is of great importance for town planning, dominates the surrounding architectural structures and landscape, and provides visual unity to all the elements of the estate. The Church of the Ascension is unsurpassed in its marvellous beauty and elegance of form and was built in spite of the strict canons of ecclesiastical architecture in the 16th century. Its one-pillar construction differed from the usual five-domed structure on four pillars, making it more like a memorial sculpture with architectural features that incorporated the best of the Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Gothic and ancient Russian traditions. The example of the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye then became widespread all over the country until the middle of the 17th century. The tent-like style was important and decisive for Russian architecture, as it later became the embodiment of the Russian national architectural tradition.

Criterion (ii): The Church of the Ascension at Kolomenskoye represents an imaginative and innovative advance in Russian Orthodox Church design, which exerted a profound influence on developments in ecclesiastical architecture over a wide area of Eastern Europe.


The Church of the Ascension at Kolomenskoye is a single whole and all the attributes expressing its Outstanding Universal Value are within the inscribed boundaries. None of the attributes are threatened by contemporary development or neglect. All the attributes are still present and have maintained physical integrity as well as the dynamic functions between them. Both the exterior and the interior of the church vividly demonstrate the unity of structural and decorative intent that is typical of Russian architecture.

Over the course of the period from 1532 to 1920, there were six different iconostases in the Church of the Ascension. During the complex restoration of 2003-2007, a complete reconstruction was undertaken based on the 'Tsar's Gates' of the original 16th-century iconostasis.


The Church of the Ascension has undergone many alterations since it was built in 1532. However, changes have been limited to the roofs of porches and to the decoration due to the complete loss of white-stone carved capitals and portals on the second tier. Regarding its volume and forms, the temple is preserved in its original form. In the early 19th century, considerable areas of the damaged surface of the brickwork were refaced with bricks manufactured especially for that purpose. In the second row of galleries, new white-stone floors were made, as well as white-stone stairs and grounds were made for all the porches. The brick floors of the 18th century were dismantled. In the 1860s, the church was restored in accordance with historical detail and ornaments - this concerns mainly the upper part of the temple: the octagonal, the tent and the cupola. In the first half of the 20th century, restoration works based on scientific elaborations were carried out as follows: white-stone of the porches and parapets were renewed; facades were renovated by replacing damaged areas and coating them with white limestone; wood structures of the galleries' roofs were reconstructed; and the cross, the sphere and chains underneath were restored and gilded.

The meticulous research that was carried out in the 1980s and subsequent restoration have restored it to a high level of authenticity in form and materials whilst the setting within the imperial estate has been preserved.

Protection and management requirements

In 1918, the Church of the Ascension was proclaimed state property as an outstanding cultural and historical monument. Its status was confirmed by the Decree of the Council of the People's Commissars "On registration and protection of art and antiquity monuments being in private, society and institutional property"(1918). At the time of inscription, the property was a part of the Architectural-Archaeological and Natural Complex of the Museum Zone Kolomenskoye. Today, the monument is owned and managed by the Moscow State United Art Historical-Architectural and Nature Landscape Museum-Reserve.

The main legal act that provides the necessary framework for protection is the Federal law of 25 June 2002 No. 73-FZ “On Cultural Heritage Properties (Monuments of History and Culture) of the Peoples of the Russian Federation”. The property is a national park that maintains religious use. At present the Church of the Ascension is the patriarchal town residence under the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Divine services are carried out on major religious holidays while the rest of time it operates as a museum.

Operational control and management of the property is up to the Moscow State Art Historical-Architectural and Nature-Landscape Museum-Reserve, which reports directly to the Department of Culture Heritage of the City of Moscow.

As part of a long-term program on conservation of historical and cultural heritage and for the development of the museum-reserve Kolomenskoye for 2003-07, some necessary activities were taken to preserve and promote the property, including the installation of an information plaque on the memorial stone with the World Heritage emblem. The eastern facade of the church also has an information table with the UNESCO emblem set in 2012.

The museum, acting on the basis of laws and regulations of the Russian Federation and those of the city of Moscow, as well as on local programs and instructions, maintains an effective site management on a full-time basis.

Regular monitoring will be essential to ensure an adequate state of conservation and to control the observance of buffer zone regulations.


Long Description

The Church of the Ascension is of great town-planning importance. It dominates the surrounding architectural and natural structures and unites all the elements of the estate. It is also a unique architectural and artistic monument as one of the earliest tent-roofed churches in Russia and as such the progenitor of subsequent architecture.

The church was built in 1532 by Prince Vasili III to commemorate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV 'the Terrible'. It was consecrated with great pomp on 3 September 1532 by the Metropolitan Dionissi, the Bishops of Kolomenskoye and Zaraisk, and the whole of the synod in the presence of Grand Prince Vasili, Grand Princess Yelena, Tsarevich Ioann and the brothers of the tsar.

The church is situated in the Kolomenskoye estate, first recorded in 1339, when it belonged to Ivan KaIita, Grand Prince of Moscow. By the 16th century it had become a fortified stronghold. The palace complex was added later, in the 17th century, and it continued in use as an imperial residence and estate until the 1917 Revolution.

The ground plan of the church is in the form of a Greek equal-armed cross, with raskrepovkas (small protrusions) in the facade on either side. It is unusual in that it has no apse. It is constructed on a high basement podklet , the second gallery of which is an open gallery surrounding the staircase.

Three wide stairways with porches lead to the gallery from the north, west, and south; they are covered with vaulted roofs. There are small chambers under the north and south porches, two of which have fluted columns of brick and white limestone. Under the west porch there is the entrance to the main room of the basement; the semi-circular portal preserves the original white limestone decor of half-columns on fluted bases. The massive vertical pillar rising from the basement is in three sections. The lower part is a cube (chetvik ) with several protruding entrances (pritvors ); it serves as the base of an octagon (vosmerik ) with wails that carry smoothly up to the octagonal tent roof, which is crowned by a cupola on a drum. The principal element of the facades - the pointed pediments above the arches of the basement, the strong comer lopatki (flat vertical protrusions on the walls) with decorative arrows between the carved network of faceted beads over the tent roof - were intended to lead the eye upwards to the cupola and its cross.

The interior of the church is small, as the walls are 3-4 m thick, but it is open to the top of the roof, 41 m above. The comers are decorated with pilasters which repeat, with some variations, the decoration of the exterior. Eight arches spring from the pilasters, and the octagonal drum that they support make a smooth transition to the soft outline of the tent.

The sloping of the tent is achieved through corbelling of the courses of brick. The tent is 20 m high; this is the first use of the traditional wooden tented roof for a stone structure. With its overall height of 62 m and the very thick walls, the whole structure retains the elegance of its silhouette and the dynamics of its composition.

The original iconostasis has not survived. It was replaced at the beginning of the 19th century by that from the Monastery of the Ascension of the Moscow Kremlin. The 16th-century 'Tsar's Gates', all that survives of the original iconostasis, are now in the Kolomenskoye Museum.

The so-called Italian (Alevisovsky) small brick, introduced by Italian architects at the end of the 15th century, was used for building the church. Carved details are in white limestone from the Moscow suburb of Myachkovo.

Historical Description

The Church of the Ascension was built in 1532 by Prince Vasili III to commemorate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV "the Terrible". The contemporary chronicle of Mkon describes it as "that church highly remarkable for its height, beauty, and lightness and was no church like this one in Russia before" . It was consecratedw ith great pomp on 3 September1 532b y the Metropolitan Dionissi, the Bishops of Kolomenskoye and Zaraisk, and the whole of the synod in the presence of Grand Prince Vasili, Grand Princess Yelena, Tsarevich Ioarm, and the brothers of the Tsar.

The church is situated in the Kolomenskoye estate, first recorded in 1339, when it belonged to Ivan KaIita, Grand Prince of Moscow. By the 16th century it had become a fortified stronghold. The palace complex was added later, in the 17th century, and it continued in use as an Imperial residence and estate until the 1917 Revolution.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation