St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

St Basil cathedral MoscowThere are quite a number of beautiful buildings and structures found all over the world. They have their own way of making people notice of their arresting presence and highlighting their surroundings to another level. And to see that these are man-made structures borne out of man’s creative imagination is really something to marvel at.

Just one of the many beautiful buildings that one can find all over the world is the unique St. Basil’s Cathedral. There are quite several cathedrals found all over the world that are beautiful works of art in their own right. But in a unique sort of way, St. Basil’s Cathedral seems to stand out quite differently above the rest.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in the famous Red Square in Moscow. It stands distinct from its surroundings due to its colorfully designed "onion domes". The domes themselves with their mix of architectural influences, seem to be symbolic of Russia standing in its unique position between Europe and Asia. The unique cathedral is not particularly large but it consists of nine chapels all in all built upon a single foundation.

The primary design of the cathedral follows that of contemporary tented churches that were predominantly popular in Russia. Such designs are usually found only in Russia and are characterized by their high conical-shaped roofs instead of the usual pointed ones. The primary reason for this design is said to be a means to prevent snow from piling up on roofs especially during long winters.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat. It was commissioned by Ivan IV, also more popularly known in history as Ivan the Terrible. The cathedral was commissioned in order to commemorate Ivan IV’s successful campaign fighting the Tartar Mongols highlighted with the capture of the Khanate of Kazan in 1552. The cathedral was built between 1555 to 1561. Its main architect was Postnik Yakolev.

The initial idea for the said cathedral was to build up a cluster of different chapels with each one dedicated to each of the saints on whose feast day the tsar had won a battle. But the eventual construction of a single central tower has unified the different chapels into a single cathedral with magnificent effect. And because of it, a popular legend tells of the Tsar ordering architect Postnik Yakolev to be blinded in order to prevent the construction of other structures that may rival its magnificence.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is a striking mix of swirling bright colors surrounding its towers made of red bricks. The onion domes add a unique touch to the cathedral. Its strikingly beautiful exterior is a contrast to its modestly decorated interiors. Maze-like corridors connect the dimly lit chapel interiors with walls dressed up with delicate floral designs in softer pastel colors.

The church interior is so small that it cannot accommodate all the churchgoers inside during special services on feast days. Masses during this special occasions had to be held outside in the Red Square just to accommodate all the people.

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