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St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral


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St Basil’s Cathedral is a strikingly ornate red brick building bordering Moscow’s Red Square and crowned with several vividly coloured domes, which bear a striking resemblance in shape to flames licking at the sky.

History of St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral was originally constructed in 1555, under the orders of Tsar Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the Terrible). Ivan’s intention in building St Basil’s Cathedral was to celebrate his victory in the Russo-Kazan Wars, specifically the siege of Kazan and the cathedral’s name was derived from that of a Russian Orthodox saint called Vasily (Basil) the Blessed.

There has been much dispute over who actually designed St Basil’s Cathedral, but one particularly gruesome legend says that, after they did so, Ivan arranged for the architect’s eyes to be removed so that they could not create anything to rival its beauty. This is almost certainly untrue, given records show that they were employed 25 years later to add an extra chapel. In fact, St Basil’s Cathedral was quite an innovation in Russian architecture. Nothing like it had existed before.

The interior of St Basil’s Cathedral is arguably disappointing when compared with the building’s exterior. This is due in large part to the scale and design, which lacks a focal point. The chaos of the domes hides the fact that the interior is essentially comprised of 9 chapels. Look out for the chapel dedicated to St Vasily the Blessed, a holy fool who commanded the fear and respect of Tsar Ivan himself: the chapel was commissioned after his death.

The interior does contain some interesting medieval paintings – particularly those of icons – and today forms part of the State History Museum. Look out for the tomb of St Basil himself.

St Basil’s Cathedral today

St Basil’s remains an iconic building for a reason: its colourful riot of onion domes still excites even the most jaded traveller when they view it for the first time. The cathedral is open year round, although with seasonal hours, and the maze of chapels inside can be confusing, especially when it’s busy. Whilst the interior is interesting, it’s the exterior which is the most impressive aspect of the cathedral. It can be bitterly cold inside in the winter!

Getting to St Basil’s Cathedral

It’s pretty hard to miss St Basil’s: it remains the focal point of Moscow’s famous Red Square. It is most easily accessed via the trio of metro stations – Okhotnyy ryad (line 1), Teatralnaya (line 2), Ploschad’ Revolyutsii (line 3). All three are a five minute walk away from Red Square. Approach via the Marshal Zhukov monument for the most memorable impression. Multiple roads in the city lead here, and any and every taxi driver will know where you’re heading!


St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral was built to commemorate the capture of the Tatar stronghold of Kazan in 1552, which occured on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin. It is named after St. Basil the Blessed. Basil impressed Ivan in 1547 when he foretold a fire that swept through Moscow that year. Upon his death, Basil was buried in the Trinity Cathedral that stood on this site at the time. The cathedral was constructed from 1555 to 1560. In 1588, Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich added a ninth chapel added on the eastern side to house the grave of St. Basil.

St. Basil"s Cathedral consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation. The riot of color and shapes that is St. Basil"s Cathedral is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The powerfully eastern design of St. Basil"s reflects both its location between Europe and Asia and its historical origins. Since the Kazan Qolsharif mosque had been the principal symbol of the Khanate captured by Ivan the Terrible, some elements from the mosque were incorporated into the cathedral to symbolize the victory.

Although the towers and domes appear chaotic, there is symmetry and symbolism in its design. There are eight domed chapels symbolizing the eight assaults on Kazan: four large and octagonal and four small and square. In the center is a tent-roofed spire topped with a small golden dome. The ninth chapel on the east side added in 1588 for Basil"s tomb interrupts the symmetery of design somewhat. It can be recognized on the outside by its green-and-gold dome studded with with golden pyramids.

The interior is a maze of galleries winding from chapel to chapel and level to level via narrow stairways and low arches. The walls are painted in floral and geometric patterns.

St. Basil the Blessed can be visited in his chapel on the lower floor, where he lies in a silver casket in gaudy splendor. Upstairs, the Chapel of the Intercession contains the equally splendid blue and gold iconostasis. Other chapels, such as that of St. Nicholas, are more restrained and even austere in their decor.


5 Fascinating Facts About Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Cultural Gem of Moscow

With its scarlet red walls and fantastical onion-shaped domes, it's no wonder that Saint Basil's Cathedral is considered to be one of the most unique feats of Russian architecture. Originally built between 1555 and 1561 to commemorate a military conquest, the building continues to dazzle thousands of visitors each year in Moscow's famous Red Square.

The cathedral is world-renowned for its fairytale appearance, but how much do you know about its history? Read on to learn five fascinating facts about the cathedral, from the controversial Tsar who commissioned it to its original color.

It was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible.

Statue of Ivan the Terrible in Oryol, Russia (Photo: Stock Photos from yingko/Shutterstock)

Ivan Vasilyevich (1530-1584), the first Tsar of Russia, ordered the construction of the cathedral in 1555 following Russia's capture of the independent Khanate of Kazan. Ivan's reputation as a cruel and stern leader led to his more popular nickname, Ivan the Terrible. In fact, some stories of the cathedral's construction say that Ivan blinded the unnamed architect (or architects) so that there would never be another building like it.

The building is made up of 10 churches.

Front elevation drawing of the cathedral's façade and overhead view of floor plan (Photo: Alexei Kouzaev via Wikimedia Commons [ CC BY-SA 2.0])

A tenth church was added in 1588 in honor of its namesake, Saint Basil, also known as Basil, fool for Christ.

The exterior was originally painted white.

Photo: Stock Photos from bellena/Shutterstock

Although today Saint Basil's Cathedral is recognized for its vibrant palette, the colorful exterior was not added until 200 years after the structure was completed. In fact, it is believed that the cathedral was originally painted white with golden domes.

It was only in the 17th century that Russian architectural styles began including more whimsical color schemes. Saint Basil's, in particular, received the inspiration for its decoration from a passage in the Book of Revelation, which describes the Heavenly City.

Saint Basil's Cathedral isn't the official name.

Photo: Stock Photos from pingvin121674/Shutterstock

The official name of Saint Basil's Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat. This derives from Tsar Ivan the Terrible's victory over the Tatar strongholds, which took place over the Feast of Intercession. It is also called Pokrovosky Cathedral and the Trinity Cathedral.

The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo: Stock Photos from nutsukanya/Shutterstock

Like other cultural landmarks, St. Basil's Cathedral has survived several different epochs of world history. In 1928, the building was confiscated by the Soviet Union and turned into a secular museum. Many decades later, in 1990, the cathedral was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the Kremlin and Red Square.

The building has since returned to its original purpose and began operating as a church. Since 1997, it has served as an Orthodox cathedral with weekly services.


Saint Basil the Blessed

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Saint Basil the Blessed, also called Pokrovsky Cathedral, Russian Svyatoy Vasily Blazhenny or Pokrovsky Sobor, church constructed on Red Square in Moscow between 1554 and 1560 by Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible), as a votive offering for his military victories over the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. The church was dedicated to the protection and intercession of the Virgin, but it came to be known as the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny (St. Basil the Beatified) after Basil, the Russian holy fool who was “idiotic for Christ’s sake” and who was buried in the church vaults during the reign (1584–98) of Tsar Fyodor I.

The church was designed by two Russian architects, Posnik and Barma (who may in fact have been one person). According to popular legend, however, it was built by an Italian architect who was blinded so that he could never create anything that was similar or equal.


3. It was built by the first Tsar of Russia

The location of the church was originally occupied by a Trinity Church which was constructed of white stones and had a similar design as the buildings of the original Kremlin.

It was in the year 1555 that Ivan IV Vasilyevich, better known as “Ivan the Terrible” and the first Tsar of Russia from 1547 to 1584, commissioned the construction of a new church. Ivan the Terrible / Wiki Commons


St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, was built by Ivan the Terrible between 1555 and 1561. According to legend, the builder of this cathedral was blinded so that such a beautiful structure could never be built again. The cathedral is vividly colorful and contains redbrick towers that add to its beauty. The church’s design consists of nine chapels, each mounted with its individual dome that marks the assault on the city of Kazan.

The design of St. Basil’s Cathedral provides strong religious symbolism and is based on architectural designs found in Jerusalem. Eight of the domes make a circular formation around the ninth dome, which looks like a star when viewed from the top. There is a deep contrast between the interior and the exterior of the St. Basil’s Cathedral. The interior contains modest decorations and the corridors are narrow, leaving little space for seating worshippers.

Several times throughout its history, this cathedral has suffered damage due to fires, looting, and other incidents. In one legend, the French ruler Napoleon even wanted to take St. Basil’s Cathedral back to France with him, but due to the lack of such technology, he ordered his army to destroy it so that no one else could occupy it. His army had prepared to attack the church and had also lit up the gunpowder, but a mysterious rain shower prevented any explosions from occurring.

36 responses to “St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow”

Ummm Can you answer why it is so colourful ?
is there a reason ?

Renee Hope- It is colorful because in the book of revelation of the Bible. Look on wikipedia in the cathedral’s ‘colors’ (scroll down)

Your welcome and BTW, LAUREN SMITH IS SOOOOO MUCH MORE EPIC THAN EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. (except Jesus…DUH)

This Cathedral looks really cool. I am doing a report on Famous Landmarks in Russia and this has perfect information.


St. Basil’s Cathedral: A Cultural Masterpiece

(WIndochinaKings.org) St. Basil’s Cathedral is an icon of Russia. It is the epitome of Russian architecture. It is located in the Red Square, next to the Moscow Kremlin. It was built in the 16th century, during the reign of Ivan IV, also called Ivan the Terrible. I will argue that St. Basil’s Cathedral is a lieux de memoire from the perspective of the Russian people. I would like to do this within the framework of the Social and Cultural unit.

The Cathedral represents Russia and its exoticism seen from the Western perspective. Its flamboyant colors and creative shapes set Western viewpoints of Russia. The cathedral, in its architectural glory, portrays Russia as forward-thinking. Russia appears to be highly technologically advanced. It also symbolizes Russian religious leadership. The idea that Moscow was “The Third Rome” and that it was closely linked to the historical hubs of Orthodox Christianity is embodied in the cathedral.

These rumors gained circulation during the reign of Ivan IV, and those ideas were the main reason that the Cathedral was built. Its onion-domed chapels make it look like a small town. For this reason, it is seen as a symbol of the heavenly city of Jerusalem. It contains four upper pillar Chapels around the central temple in the shape of a square and four lower Chapels also in the shape of a square. When viewed from above, one of these squares is inside the other with a 45-degree shift, forming an eight-pronged star. This star is one of the symbols of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral is filled with religious symbolism. There are many images on its wall and along its ceiling. It set the stage for Moscow’s role as a center of sanctity, saints and sacred objects.

Architecturally, the cathedral has eight column churches surrounding a ninth church. This ninth church is the highest temple, topped with a marquee. Each of the eight churches was named in honor of a saint on whose day Ivan the Terrible did something important during his conquest of the Khanate of Kazan, a Turkic state.

The ninth, or central, church is dedicated to the Mother of God. The churches are the Chapel of the Three Patriarchs, the Chapel of St. Nicholas, the Chapel of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin, the chapel of the Holy Martyrs Cyprian and Justina, the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, the Chapel of the Entry of Our Lord, the Chapel of St. Alexander of Svir, the Chapel of St. Varlaam of Khutyn and the chapel of the Holy Martyr Gregory. Each of the column churches is decorated with a unique onion dome, with cornices, windows, niches and other innovative features from the time.

According to legend, Ivan was so impressed by the beauty of the Cathedral that he ordered that the architects, Postnik and Barma, be blinded. He wanted to prevent them from being able to build another temple that could possibly rival the Cathedral.

In “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire,” Pierre Nora describes a lieux de memoire as a turning point in history. The symbol begins with the intention to remember, but it also has the capacity for change, able to recycle its meaning. It helps preserve memory, capturing culturally significant moments. He argues that the natural effect of history is to sweep away collective memory. A lieux de memoire prevents this from happening. It preserves memory. Cultural identities are built around a lieux de memoire.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is clearly a lieux de memoire. It represents a turning-point in history where Russian religious leadership was cemented. Russian religious leadership had existed only in theory previously. Now, it was embodied in the architectural wonder. The cathedral helps the citizens of Russia remember this crucial moment. When it was built, it did not encompass a memory as such. However, as time passes and as history attempts to cover up the memory of religious greatness with other events, the cathedral increasingly is a memorial of the past.

It brings to mind past thoughts of religious greatness. It is now a fundamental icon of Russian identity. It is a national icon in addition to being a religious icon. Not only does it represent both identities. It also connects the Russian national identity with religious identity. Since a religious identity like Orthodox Christianity inherently spans national borders, it is automatically much more prevalent and well-known than a national identity. By being associated with such a powerful religious identity, the Russian national identity becomes elevated and more prominent. The cathedral is a religious and a national symbol. These forces work together to make the cathedral a powerful lieux de memoire for the Russian people.


What to See at St. Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil's is located at one end of Red Square, just across from the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin. Not particularly large, it consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation.

The riot of color and shapes that is St. Basil's Cathedral is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The French diplomat Marquis de Custine commented that it combined "the scales of a golden fish, the enamelled skin of a serpent, the changeful hues of the lizard, the glossy rose and azure of the pigeon's neck" and wondered at "the men who go to worship God in this box of confectionery work."

The powerfully eastern design of St. Basil's reflects both its location between Europe and Asia and its historical origins. Since the Kazan Qolsharif mosque had been the principal symbol of the Khanate captured by Ivan the Terrible, some elements from the mosque were incorporated into the cathedral to symbolize the victory.

Although the towers and domes appear chaotic, there is symmetry and symbolism in its design. There are eight domed chapels symbolizing the eight assaults on Kazan: four large and octagonal and four small and square. In the center is a tent-roofed spire topped with a small golden dome.

The ninth chapel on the east side added in 1588 for Basil's tomb interrupts the symmetery of design somewhat. It can be recognized on the outside by its green-and-gold dome studded with with golden pyramids.

The interior is a maze of galleries winding from chapel to chapel and level to level via narrow stairways and low arches. The walls are painted in floral and geometric patterns.

St. Basil the Blessed can be visited in his chapel on the lower floor, where he lies in a silver casket in gaudy splendor. Upstairs, the Chapel of the Intercession contains the equally splendid blue and gold iconostasis. Other chapels, such as that of St. Nicholas, are more restrained and even austere in their decor.

In a garden at the front of the cathedral stands a bronze statue commemorating Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who rallied Russia's volunteer army against the Polish invaders during the Time of Troubles in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

The statue was originally constructed in the center of Red Square, but the Soviet government felt it obstructed parades and moved the statue in front of the cathedral in 1936.


Origins of Red Square and Its Name

Many medieval Russian cities built kremlins, or fortresses, to protect themselves from invaders. The original Kremlin in Moscow began in 1156 as a wooden structure north of the Moskva River. As Muscovite power and wealth expanded by the late 1400s, Prince Ivan III ordered the area now known as Red Square–which at the time was a slum or shantytown housing poor peasants and criminals𠄼leared. Ivan the Great, as he was known, built the Kremlin into its most splendid form yet, bringing in Italian architects to build new fortified stone walls and structures such as the Cathedral of the Assumption (also known as the Cathedral of the Dormition).

Did you know? Throughout the Soviet era, armed members of the Kremlin Regiment guarded Lenin&aposs tomb, and the changing of the guard outside the mausoleum became one of the most recognizable features of Red Square.

Contrary to popular misconception, Red Square’s name is completely unrelated to the crimson color of its numerous buildings as well as to the Communist Party’s association with the color red. In its earliest incarnation, Red Square was known as Trinity Square, in honor of Trinity Cathedral, which stood on its southern end during the rule of Ivan III. From the 17th century onward, however, Russians began calling the square by its current name, “Krasnaya Ploschad.” The name is derived from the word krasnyi, which meant beautiful in Old Russian and only later came to mean red.


St. Basils Cathedral

On the Red Square there is one of the main sights of Moscow and Russia, the Pokrovsky Cathedral, popularly known as the Saint Basil Cathedral. It became worldwide renowned for its unique architecture and design. The history of its construction is related with the events of the middle 16th century, when the army of Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan, formerly ruled by the Golden Horde.

Construction of this wonderful church lasted from 1555 to 1561. It was constructed to commemorate the capture of the Kazan Khanate. The name of the architect who built the Pokrovsky Cathedral is unknown to this day, but there are several versions. First two versions are related with the master Yakovlev Postnik, nicknamed Barma, and the second one says that Barma and Postnik were two different people who jointly built the cathedral. The third version says that the Pokrovsky Cathedral was erected by an architect from Western Europe. This version explains the mixing of traditional Russian architecture with European architectural style of the Renaissance.

By the way, according to the legend Ivan the Terrible ordered to blind the architect so that he could not build something like that somewhere.

Before the 17th century, the Pokrovsky Cathedral, which was also called the Trinity Cathedral, had the third name as the Jerusalem. All of this was connected with the initiation of the cathedral and church services that were held there.

Domes of the cathedral take special place in the architecture. According to some facts, the St. Basil's Cathedral originally had 25 domes, symbolizing God and 24 Elders surrounding His throne. Today, the church has nine domes of different colors, and one more, mounted above the bell tower. Initially domes were gilded, and in the 17th century, after construction of various additional buildings, domes were covered with decorative painting. By the way, original color of the Cathedral walls was white.

In 1737 the Saint Basil's Cathedral suffered from a heavy fire. Later it was restored and received its current color. Later, in 1812, during the Napoleon's invasion the church was nearly destroyed: bombs were extinguished by sudden downpour.

In the 20th century, during the Soviet Union power, Bolsheviks nearly demolished the Cathedral, though they executed the head priest and re-melted the bells. Later, in 1936 the eminent political figure of Soviet Union Lazar Kaganovich again offered to demolish this cathedral, but Stalin denied him. According to some facts, Lazar Kaganovich brought to Stalin the model of the Red Square with removable St. Basil&rsquos Cathedral. He wanted to show how the Red Square would look without the cathedral. But Stalin looked at it and said &ldquoLazar! Put it back!&rdquo

After dissolution of the USSR the Pokrovsky Cathedral commenced divine worships on 14 October, 1991, on the feast of the Protection. Step-by-step the cathedral collected bells from all over the world and today it has 19 bells, melted in Russia, Byelorussia, France, Holland and Germany.

Today this great 65-meters-high church enters the UNESCO World Heritage List and attracts thousands visitors of the Red Square from all over the world every year. In addition, the Saint Basil Cathedral is the main Orthodox church in Russia and is used for divine services by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. And whenever you visit the Red Square you would not resist having a picture against the background of the Pokrovsky Cathedral.


Watch the video: ΣΤΗΝ ΚΟΚΚΙΝΗ ΠΛΑΤΕΙΑ, ΜΟΣΧΑ (June 2022).


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