The unique and attractive building known to everyone as St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow, but is officially referred to as “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat” and also quoted as “Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed”. The Cathedral was built on the orders from Ivan the Terrible and admirers the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan and was attributed as the city’s tallest building until the completion of Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600. Its architects, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, were made blind by Ivan so that they could not develop anything that is comparable to the building. But the historians consensually say that this is just an urban folklore, as they were hired later after Ivan’s death, to add an additional chapel to the structure.
The cathedral has an apparent anarchical shaped nine main chapels with a tall and tent-roofed one in the middle; four big, octagonal shaped ones, capped with the four biggest domes; and four smaller one in between. When the church was built, it was all white as white-stone Kremlin and the onion shaped domes were of gold rather than multi-colored as they are today.
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St. Basil’s cathedral is the most recognizable sight and one of the architectural treasures of Moscow. Its crazy confusion of colors, figures and shapes is the apex of a style that is unique to Russian architecture.
The cathedral is located in Red Square near Spasskaya Tower in Moscow. The interior of the chapels is richly decorated and its windows give an ecstatic view of the cathedral itself and also of the Red Square. The church is open daily except on Tuesday from 11:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening.
Attractions of the cathedral
This spectacular building consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation. Its anarchical architecture of different colors and shapes, rising as a flame of a bonfire in the sky, is incomparable and one couldn’t find it anywhere else in the world. The cathedral foretells the climax of Russian national architecture in the 17th century.
The church has been a part of the Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. A French diplomat attributed the building that it combined the vibrant scales of a golden fish, skin of a serpent, the hues of a lizard, the bright rose and azure of a pigeon’s neck. The eastern design of St. Basil’s reverts its location between Europe and Asia. Its architects designed a symmetrical floor plan with its churches around the core. The four larger churches on the four compass points are octagonal in shape; the other four small churches placed diagonally are cuboid. The large churches stand on huge foundations, while the smaller churches are placed on a raised platform. The interior is a mesh of galleries from chapel to chapel via narrow stairways and low arches with its walls painted in floral and geometric patterns.
Visitors can visit St. Basil the Blessed in his chapel on the lower floor, where he lies in a silver crate in a splendid fashion. The largest church is much wider and airier as compared, is 46 meters in height internally and has a floor area of 64 square meters. Stepping upstairs, the chapel contains mesmerizing blue and gold iconostasis. Other chapels are more restrained and even stringent in their décor. Moving towards the garden in the front of the cathedral, one can see a bronze statue of Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin who participated in a rally of Russia’s volunteer army against Polish invaders in late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Some interesting facts about St. Basil’s
The construction of the St. Basil’s Cathedral started in 1555 and hence its first part was built in 1561 to perpetuate Ivan the Terrible’s triumph of Kazan in 1552, during the Feast of Intercession of the Virgin. The structure of the cathedral is made of traditional white stone foundation, and red brick walls containing wooden framework. The eight chapels of the cathedral symbolize the eight assaults on Kazan, with beautiful icons, medieval painted walls and varying artwork inside the dome, reflecting the architectural representation of New Jerusalem. The architecture of cathedral is based on contemporary tented churches, like that of Ascension in Kolomenskoye in 1530 and of St. John, the Baptist’s Decapitation in Dyakovo in 1547.
Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich added the ninth chapel of St. Basil’s on its eastern side in 1588. The cathedral is having an eight-point star , guiding light to the mankind, is representing Virgin Mary, represented in Orthodox iconography with a veil.
In 1737, the cathedral suffered from heavy fire, but was later redeveloped and restored to its current color. The, during the time of Napolean’s invasion, the church was nearly destructed again due to the bombs that extinguished by sudden downpour.
The cathedral has endured for more than four centuries, and was taken over by Soviet Union Government in 1928, and is secularized as a government site and museum. Also the cathedral was given the nickname “St. Basil’s” after the “holy fool” Basil the Blessed, who was renowned with Muscovites masses at that time.