St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square, considered to be a true symbol of Russia and an integral part of Moscow scenery, is one of the most remarkable monuments and the supreme achievement of ancient architecture of the capital.
There is a huge variety of architectural forms from the pillar-towers to the wild fantasy of the colourful décor, which indicate the brilliant talent of its creators who dared to boldly break the traditional canons of erecting a religious building. The Cathedral was created to be seen perfectly well from different parts of Moscow.
Originally called the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat (the moat was dug along the citadel wall), was erected to commemorate the capture of Kazan capital in October 1552. Seven wooden churches (each of them dedicated to the saints on whose days the main victories of the Kazan campaigns took place) were built around the Cathedral of the Trinity, which already existed there. In 1555, architects, Barma and Postnic began to raise a stone cathedral on a slight elevation on a massive ground floor.
The cathedral's composition is very unusual. There are eight pillar-towers, which are all centred around the central tent roof. It is topped by a decorative tent roof bearing a small gilded dome. Three years after completing the construction, Barma and Postnik built another chapel on the northeast corner of the cathedral housing the burial place of a Moscow famous holy fool Basil by whose name the Cathedral is now known.
Originally, the facades and domes of the Intercession Cathedral were not painted different colours. The carved decorative details of white stone (the original colour of the cathedral) stood out boldly against the redbrick walls of the Kremlin. The sixteenth-century monument received its riot of colour in the two following centuries. The chapel and tent-roofed bell-tower also built in that period made the Cathedral look more picturesque.
The interiors of the Cathedral are designed in a very interesting and unusual manner as well. Narrow staircases and passages contrast strikingly with the imposing exterior appearance of the Cathedral. You can discover the real scale of this monumental building only when you stand in the central church, narrow but vast in its dome. St. Basil’s Cathedral has undergone a lot of restoration during its existence. Numerous repairs were carried out without any appropriate scientific research of the ancient building. In 1923, the Cathedral became a branch of the State History Museum. The cathedral was threatened during Stalin’s reign, who contemplated destroying it, as it was in the way of military parades through Red Square.
Essential Information for Visitors
Metro: Ploshchad Revolutsii