Archangel Michael Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Nizhny Novgorod as it
was built at the time when town was originally established. In 1221
new wooden Archangel
Michael Cathedral was constructed and just six years later new stone
version of the church was built. Archangel Michael Cathedral was
reconstructed and renovated several times during its history.
Current church was built in 1628 under supervision of an architect
Lawrence Semenov and his stepson. In 1962 remains of Kuzma Minin
were transferred to Archangel Michael Cathedral as it became the
final resting of this prominent resident. In 2009 Patriarch Kirill
presented the Cathedral with an icon of Kazan Mother of God.
In 1221, the year of the foundation of the city by
the great prince Yuri II of Vladimir, a wooden church was built on
the site of the current Archangel Michael Cathedral. Between 1227
and 1229, the structure was replaced by the first stone Orthodox
Christian temple of the new city. It was characterized by the white
color of the walls, the building was demolished and rebuilt in 1359,
in order to become the church of the palace of the great prince. For
a long time the sovereigns of the Nizhny Novgorod-Suzdal prince were
buried in it.
The floor of the Archangel Michael Cathedral
consisted of ceramic tiles decorated with six-pointed stars, painted
with white plaster on a red background. In terms of materials and
style, this type of floor was unprecedented in the field of Russian
architecture. During the Tartar siege of 1377 the cathedral was
burned and partially collapsed.
Between 1628 and 1631, when
the city was subject to various maintenance works, which were
necessary due to the damage caused by the period of the turbid, the
Archangel Michael Cathedral was rebuilt. The patriarch of Moscow
Filaret, who returned during those years from the Polish prison,
took an interest in the reconstruction of the building. With the
approval of the Tsar Michael and through the financing of the state
treasury, the works were entrusted to Lavrentij Semenov and his
stepson Antipa. Works began on April 23, 1628, the construction was
completed three years later by Antipa Semenov, who took over from
his stepfather who died during construction and was buried at the
Ascension Pecherskiy Monastery. The restoration was dedicated to the
popular militia of Kuz'ma Minin and Dmitrij Požarskij who in 1612
helped to free Russia from the Polish occupation. While respecting
the size of the old building, various modifications affected the
appearance of the structure, in particular in relation to the bell
tower and the roof.
In 1672, a side altar was added to the
building which, however, was later removed because it was considered
a stranger to the original appearance of the cathedral. In 1704 and
1715 two fires damaged the iconostasis and only in 1732 was a
recovery intervention implemented. In 1795, in 1845 and in 1910 the
cathedral was the object of other restoration operations. In 1962,
the ashes of Kuz'ma Minin, previously housed by the nearby
Transfiguration Cathedral, destroyed by the Soviets, were moved to
the cathedral of the Archangel Michael, where they still stand
today. The structure also houses the mortal remains of the sons of
the great prince Dmitrij Konstantinovic, Vasily Kirdjapa and Ivan.
On 3 November 2005, the Archangel Michael Cathedral was visited
by the Patriarch of Moscow Alexei II. This event is commemorated by
a commemorative plaque. On March 16, 2009, nine bells were donated
to the temple by the Legislative Assembly of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.
Ten days later, the largest of the nine bells (weighing 530
kilograms) was hoisted on the building's bell tower. In September
2009 the new patriarch Cyril I, visiting the city, donated an icon
of the Holy Virgin of Kazan to the cathedral.