The history of the Old Russian architecture extends back over 7 centuries.
The decision of the prince Vladimir the Great in 988 on the adoption of Christianity in its Eastern way made Kievan Rus' a part of centuries-long rich history of the Christian culture, blossomed in the Byzantine Empire. The Greek craftsmen, who were the first to built stone churches in Kiev, Chernigov, Novgorod, brought to Russia the cross-in-square type of construction. This kind of the church building took leading positions for long centuries. The image of a Russian church from now on was recognized by domes, rising on slender drums, by barrel vaults, placed in a cross that mark the interior, by mosaics and frescos, as well as by expressive icons, decorating the inner space.
In the XII century, at the time when Russia was split in separate principalities, local architectural schools started to appear. Across Byzantine and Romanesque traditions, based on the cross-building system, come different architectural concepts of churches in Chernigov and Smolensk, in Vladimir and Grodno.
The Tartar invasion in 1240 and the destruction of rebel cities stopped the construction of stone buildings for a few decades. The stone architecture in Novgorod and Tver principalities of the end of the XIII–XV centuries, the architecture of Pskov region and of Early Moscovite period of the XIV–XV centuries let us estimate new stylistic discoveries on these territories.
The consolidation of Russian lands around Moscow, the formation of the unique Russian state, as well as the construction of cathedrals of the Moscow Kremlin by Italian architects in times of the Great princes Ivan III and Vasili III (end of the XV century - first quarter of the XVI century) influenced the formation of the Great Russian architectural tradition. The stylistic features of the Cathedral of the Assumption and of the Archangel Michael Cathedral could be found in the cathedrals of the XVI–XVII centuries, built in Novgorod, Dmitrov, Yaroslavl, Vologda, Astrakhan and other Russian cities.
After the Great Time of troubles of the XVII century, there were built cathedrals, that became memorials of the victory over the Polish invaders. Their forms repeat the familiar lines of the church buildings of the precedent century, which shows off the continuity of the religious tradition of the Old Russia. The regal construction in the Kremlin, realized by the foreign craftsmen, Scots, in particular, transformed the historical center of the capital. The overbuilding of Spasskaya Tower, the construction of Terem Palace and Kremlin Palace churches influenced the tastes of the aristocracy and rich merchantry. This affected the formation of the style named the "Miraculous patternwork", that became the symbol of Rus' of the XVII century.
"Naryshkin style" or "Muscovite Baroque", that determined the image of Russian cities and monasteries of the end of the XVII century, became the last ascent of the Old Russia architecture.