The Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral dating back to 13 century is the main church of the Suzdal Kremlin. This is one of the most remarkable examples of ancient Russian architecture, along with the cathedrals of Vladimir.
The first cathedral was built on this place in 12 century under Vladimir Monomakh. In 1222, under Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich, the dilapidated church was dismantled and a spacious cathedral was built. In 1445 Suzdal was burned by the Tatars. The upper part of the cathedral collapsed but it was not dismantled completely. They began to restore the cathedral only in 1530. The lower part of the walls of the old cathedral was dismantled to the arcaded frieze, and the upper part of the walls was built of brick. The once three-domed cathedral became the five-domed cathedral. Thus, the lower part of the cathedral dates back to 13 century while its upper part dates back to 16 century.
The Western Gate of the cathedral with lion heads have a high artistic value. It is decorated with gospel scenes made using fire gilding technology. It is the oldest, but extremely dangerous, gilding technology, known since ancient times. High grade gold mixed with large quantities of mercury is heated until the latter evaporates completely.
The cathedral was decorated with frescoes in 1233, with small fragments of them remaining to our days. Now we can see the frescoes dating back to 1635. The beautiful carved iconostasis is also very impressive.
The members of the most famous boyar and princely families such as the Shuisky, the Shuisky-Skopin, the Belsky were buried under the cast-iron floor slabs. The sons of Yuri Dolgoruky, Ivan and Svyatoslav, were also buried there.