Saint Basils Cathedral



Red Square, 7
Subway: ploschad revolyutsii

Saint Basil's Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, or simply the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, stands in the heart of Moscow, on the Red Square.

saint basil's cathedral

It is an iconic symbol of Russia, famous for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes and intricate designs. The cathedral has been part of the Moscow skyline since the 16th century and was commissioned by Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Facts

  1. The name "Saint Basil's" is derived from Basil the Blessed, a Moscow saint known for his piety and foresight, whose tomb is located within the cathedral.

  2. The cathedral was commissioned to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan, thus marking important victories over the Mongol and Tatar occupiers in the 16th century.

  3. Saint Basil's is not a single church but rather a collection of nine chapels built on a single foundation, with each chapel dedicated to a different saint.

  4. According to a popular legend, Tsar Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, to prevent him from creating anything as magnificent ever again.

  5. It was initially all white to match the white stone of the Kremlin and its domes were gold rather than multicolored. The famous vibrant colors we see today were added in the 17th century.

Saint Basil's Cathedral History

Construction of Saint Basil's Cathedral began in 1555 and was completed in 1561. The edifice was built to celebrate the victory over the Tartar Mongols in the Siege of Kazan in 1552, which occurred on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin.

Over the centuries, the cathedral has survived threats of destruction from various sources, including plans by Napoleon to blow it up during his retreat from Moscow and Joseph Stalin considering its demolition due to impediments to military parades.

It was converted into a museum in 1929 after the Soviets confiscated it from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Architecture

Saint Basil's Cathedral is a masterpiece of Russian architecture, and its design distinguishes itself from other structures with its vivid color scheme and unique layout. The building's fantasy-like appearance employs a symmetrical arrangement of eight chapels surrounding a central, ninth chapel (the Church of Intercession).

Each chapel is topped with a unique, onion-shaped dome, making the overall silhouette of the cathedral instantly recognizable. The interiors, though less opulent than the exterior, contain delicate frescoes and intricate carvings that are characteristic of Russian religious art.

The geometrical patterns and use of color in the cathedral's design were not only meant to impress but also had symbolic meanings relating to the Christian faith. Overall, Saint Basil's Cathedral is a crowning achievement of Russian architecture and a brilliant example of Orthodox ecclesiastical architecture.

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