Russia · St. Basil’s Cathedral
Pokrovsky Cathedral which is better known as the Cathedral of St. Vasili is Orthodox church, an architectural monument which is one of the most famous symbols of Moscow and the whole Russia due to its distinctive architecture and prominent position on the famous Red Square. Discover hidden surprises inside its walls. St. Basil’s Cathedral is located at the end of the Red Square opposite the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin.
The origins of the St. Basil’s Cathedral date back to Russia’s battles against the Mongol Tartars. In 1552, Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible won a decisive battle against the Tartars near the city of Kazan. Upon his return home he commissioned a new church to be built to commemorate this victory. The construction works lasted six years from 1555 till 1561.
Because the victory over Tartars took place on the feast day of the Intercession of Virgin, the Tsar chose to name the new church Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat (after a nearby moat that ran across the Kremlin perimeter). The Cathedral is better known by its nickname Saint Basil. The “holy fool” Basil the Blessed was very popular at the time with Muscovites and with Ivan the Terrible himself. The grave of Basil the Blessed is located meters away from the Cathedral.
St. Vasili’s Cathedral is a balanced ensemble of eight column churches which surround the ninth one, the highest temple that is topped with a marquee. Each of the eight churches was named in honor of the saint on whose day Kazan campaigns of Ivan the Terrible brought something remarkable. The central church is dedicated to the Protection of the Mother of God. This day Kazan was taken by storm. Column church are decorated with onion domes. Each of them is unique; none of them repeats the others. Each dome is decorated with cornices, innovative features, windows, niches.
In 1918, St. Basil’s Cathedral was among the first Russian buildings to be taken into custody of the Soviet Government as the monument of Russian and world heritage.