BURIAL PLACE OF TSARSClose
Tsar Ivan IV drew exclusive attention to the decoration of his own tomb in the Diaconicon - the southern part of the altar space in the cathedral. The establishment of specific shrine was dictated by the acquisition of the tsar's title by Ivan the Terrible. By this act autocratic power was firmly established in Russia, which became a mighty European state by the 16th century. Ivan the Terrible was the first tsar whose coronation ceremony contained vesting with the sacred regalia and a sacrament of anointment. His sons – Ivan, the victim of his father's temper, and Fyodor, who became a sovereign after his father's death, are also buried here in the Diaconicon.
The 16th century murals discovered during scientific restoration activities of 1953-1956 have partially remained in the royal burial place. All the subjects in the first tier are related to the burial theme. The key motive of all scenes is a man's rejection of earthly things. Here we can see the approach of death, the last farewell and mourning over the deceased, and the soul leaving for the Kingdom of Heaven.
The scene 'The Dying Man Parting with His Family' is given on the curve of the eastern wall. The prince is depicted on his deathbed, with his hands hugging his eldest son’s shoulders. The princess with the younger son in her lap is sitting by his feet. The background shows the Angel and the Demon struggling for the soul of the dying man. This scene reminds of the description of the last hour of Vasily III, father of Ivan IV, included in 'The Book of Genealogy of Grand Princes and Tsars'.
In 1963, the tombs located in the Diaconicon and the Chapel of John the Baptist were opened for archaeological and anthropological research. The famous anthropologist M.M. Gerasimov determined the appearance of Tsars Ivan the Terrible and Fyodor Ivanovich from the remains preserved in the sarcophagi.