St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Opposite the Moscow Kremlin—specifically the Spasskaya Tower—stands St. Basil’s Cathedral. This beautiful edifice at the end of the Red Square finds its origins all the way back to when Russia was battling the Mongol Tartars in the 1550s. Not only did it survive this battle, earning Tsar Ivan the Terrible his name and an inspiration to commemorate his victory with this church, it also got its earlier name—Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat—because it was on that feast day the victory was won. The Muscovites and Ivan himself held the “holy fool” Basil the Blessed in high regard, hence having this Cathedral re-christening after him.
St. Basil’s Cathedral History
You’ll find historical proof of Napoleon’s attempts to destroy this Church. He initially wanted to take it back to Paris with him, but ill-advanced technology fueled his ego and he ordered the Cathedral razed instead. You’ll be surprised to learn that when the fuse was lit and kegs of gun powder were about to blow the building to smithereens, a miraculous rain came to the rescue.
Even the Soviets knew the value of this Cathedral, adopting it as a monument of Russian and world heritage. May 1923 saw to it opening in the form of a museum, which you’ll witness for yourself when you visit. Regular church services are still held.
St. Basil’s Cathedral Architecture
St. Basil’s is primarily an Orthodox Catholic church. 17th century Russian architecture makes up this place’s style. Nine chapels sit on this foundation, together comprising St. Basil’s; don’t forget the bell tower. The very structure is something quite original, from the hipped roof with its small cupola to the surrounding churches.
Not only are the outer domes a sight to behold, the interior is even more diverse, filled with art and designs from a century long before this one. Narrow stairways and arches wind all over the place, from one chapel to the next, including levels. St. Basil the Blessed has his own chapel which you can visit in the lower floor. The holy man was interred in a ‘loud’ silver casket.
The preservation skills applied to keep this Cathedral looking as it does is indeed a blessed gift. The well-maintained garden before the Cathedral is a lovely addition and in it stands a bronze commemoration of Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin. These two men were responsible for rallying Russia’s volunteer army against the Polish invaders. This was during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, what they call the Time of Troubles.
As you can imagine, the wealth of historical and cultural significance behind St. Basil’s Cathedral is something to appreciate indeed. Add to that the fact that this place is held highly sacred and you have a nation’s gratitude to admire too. Gratitude, because it’s a good thing God decided to rain on Napoleon’s explosive parade!