The Church of the Twelve Apostles (Russian: церковь Двенадцати Апостолов) is a minor cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, commissioned by Patriarch Nikon as part of his stately residence in 1653 and dedicated to Philip the Apostle three years later.
Although premises for the Muscovite metropolitan had existed in the Kremlin ever since the 14th century, Patriarch Nikon, who aspired to rival the tsar in authority and magnificence, had them replaced with a much more ambitious residence, centered on a spacious chamber in the form of the cross, once used as a banqueting hall but now serving as a museum of applied arts. To this structure adjoins from the south a domestic church of the patriarchs, originally consecrated to Philip the Apostle until the dedication was altered to the present one in 1682.
The church is almost as prominent as neighbouring grand cathedrals of the 15th century, due to its placement upon a high pediment, pierced by two large arches allowing passage from the Cathedral Square to the patriarch's court-yard. The exterior walls are decorated with two belts of columned arches which reference both the neighbouring cathedrals of the Cathedral Square and the great churches of the 12th-century Vladimir-Suzdal school which had been their inspiration. The rigorous outline of five helmeted domes, in keeping with Nikon's conservative architectural tastes, serves to accentuate the church's Byzantine pedigree.
The patriarchal residence was seriously damaged when the Bolsheviks shelled the Kremlin in October 1917. Subsequently the church was restored in order to accommodate the applied arts museum. Very little subsists of its original murals, yet there is a delightful 17th-century iconostasis, salvaged from the Ascension Convent cathedral upon its demolition by the Bolsheviks and displaying many fine old icons, notably those by Fyodor Zubov and Simon Ushakov.