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Saint Basil’s Cathedral – Moscow – Russia


It is not unknown to the world that the colourful Saint Basil’s Cathedral, being a rarity in its architectural plan and colour scheme, is the main attraction and also the icon for Moscow and Russia. Officially known as the Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, this Russian Orthodox Church stands on the Red Square of Moscow.


The Saint Basil’s Cathedral is known to have been made under the orders of Ivan the Terrible who got it made in between 1555 and 1561 after capturing Kazan. The entire Saint Basil’s Cathedral is actually a collection of 9 churches in the same premises. Out of these one is the tallest and has a roof like that of a tent. There are four relatively small churches which have an octagonal shape and an onion like domed roof on top and lastly there are four small churches in between all of these. The complete shape of the cathedral appears like that of a flame of fire which is trying to rise towards the sky. Amongst all of them the largest one, which is built on north eastern side and which stands on the tomb of the holy fool Vasily (Basil) is the one on which the Cathedral is named after. Before being surpasses by the bell tower on the name of Ivan the Great, it was the Saint Basil’s Cathedral which was the tallest building of Moscow city.


None of the building in the Russian architecture has a structure similar to the Saint Basil’s Cathedral. After being taken by the orthodox community of Russia who practise atheism, the cathedral used to serve as the State Historical Museum after which it was converted in to a secular premise which is now a Russian Federal Property and has also been included in the UNSECO Heritage Site. The architectural influences for the Saint Basil’s Cathedral are known to have come from Byzantium and strong Asian impacts. Observers have also noted the Italian Renaissance touch appearing in the collection of colourful structures. The domes of the cathedral were gold plated in between 1772 and 1784 in accordance with the fashion of the times and although during the reign of Napoleon and Stalin, the Saint Basil’s Cathedral was under the shadow of destruction, it survived the intention because of the paucity of time of his troops on the first instance and the vehement opposition of Pyotr Baranovsky on the second instance.


Over the decades, the Saint Basil’s Cathedral has undergone a number of rounds of renovation amongst which the last one happened in 2008. These initiatives have kept the cathedral standing and once again converted it in to a museum. The best way for the tourists to pay a visit to the Saint Basil’s Cathedral is through the metro which has stations in Okhotny Ryad and Teatralnaya. The Cathedral is open all days of the week except for Tuesdays. There is a wooden spiral staircase which takes people to the central church and also gives them a chance to walk through the galleries which are adorned with paintings.

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