FIORAVANTI, Aristotele
(b. ca. 1417, Bologna, d. ca. 1485, Moscow)

Exterior view

1475-79
Photo
Cathedral of the Dormition, Kremlin, Moscow

In 1475 Fioravanti moved to Moscow, where in 1475-79 he rebuilt the cathedral of the Dormition (Uspensky) in the Kremlin for Ivan III. The cathedral was intended for major state ceremonies, including the coronation of the tsar. It had already been substantially reconstructed (from 1472) by local builders when in 1474 it was partly destroyed in an earthquake.

Fioravanti began work afresh by replacing the previous foundations with new and much deeper ones, and he made every effort to ensure the building's structural stability, using specially hardened lightweight bricks and iron tie-rods for the vaults. The layout of the building was dictated by Russian tradition and was required to be modelled in particular on the cathedral of the Dormition (rebuilt 1185-89) in Vladimir. It is organized as a four-bay nave and aisles, with groin vaults and a typical five-domed arrangement at the east end, which terminates in a row of chapels. The main innovations of the tall interior are in the omission of galleries in order to give an airy and uncluttered effect, in the uniformity of bay size in both nave and aisles and in the use at the west end of four cylindrical piers resembling columns, which were once capped with Corinthian capitals (defaced 17th century).

The building's most conspicuous elevation, that facing south, was given an imposing but severe stone-faced façade divided into four equal arched bays by tall pilasters rising through a traditional band of blind arcades with ornamental colonnettes.

The photo shows the south façade, viewed from Cathedral Square.

View the ground plan of Cathedral of the Dormition, Kremlin.