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The Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity in Moscow Kremlin The buildings of the Great Kremlin Palace complex include small domestic churches built from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Originally, there were eleven of them, but only six remained after the numerous reconstructions of the 18th and19th centuries. The oldest of these is The Church of the Nativity.

In 1393, to honour the victory of Russian forces over a detachment of the Mongol (Golden) Horde in the Kulikovo Field (which took place on 8 September 1380), the royal wife of Grand Duke Dmitri Donskoi, Princess Evdokiya, ordered the construction of the Church of the Birth of Christ, together with a side chapel of the Resurrection of Lazarus, in the Kremlin.

The Lazarus Chapel was situated near the large altar. At that time a separate church building from white stone served as a domestic place of worship for the female contingent of the palace. The paintings in the church were executed in 1395 by the famous icon painter Feofan Grek, and Simen the Black.

In 1514 the largely decayed church was turned into the ground floor of a new great princely palace. The architect, Aleviz Novi (the Russian name for the Italian, Alevisio Lamberti da Montanyiano, who also designed the Cathedral of the Archangel), built a brick arch above it and erected a new church to the Birth of Virgin Mary.

The old building was turned into the Chapel of the Resurrection of Lazarus. In 1681 the church underwent a fundamental restoration. The superstructure was removed, the cupolas were taken off, and the walls were made flush with the walls of the Teremnyi Palace. And then a new temple with a brick cupola was erected to commemorate the Birth of the Virgin Mary.

In 1684 the Chapel of the Resurrection of Lazarus was abandoned and the building turned into a warehouse. The Resurrection Church was built in to one of the palace walls and became part of the complex. In 1838, during the building of the new palace, the forgotten Chapel of the Resurrection of Lazarus was discovered in the basement. By order of Emperor Nikolai I, the church was revived. During this process, ancient paintings were lost forever. From 1920 to 1929, and again between 1949 and 1952, the church underwent extensive restoration, resurrecting the original four-cupola building.

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