Sep 01


Although this famous cathedral is known worldwide as “Saint Basil’, its official name is “Cathedral of the Intercession of the Mother of God”. The alternative name linked to Saint Basil refers to the fact that the holy relics of Blessed Basil, who is highly revered in Russia, are buried inside the church. Saint Basil “the Fool” lived between 1468 and 1552 and had been buried in Holy Trinity Cathedral, which at that time was located on the current site of the famous edifice, a few years before the current cathedral was going to be built.

The raising of St. Basil Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 to mark and celebrate the capture of Kazan from the hands of the Mongols. It was completed in 1560 and although there isn’t any evidence known about its construction, the place is “haunted” by a lot of legends. For example, we do not know anything about the actual builders of the cathedral besides their names – Barma and Postnik Yakovlev – and the legend that after the construction was finished, Ivan blinded them so that they can no longer see anything and never make any comparisons. Historians have established, however, that this is nothing but folklore. Another legend has it that Napoleon love this cathedral so much that he wanted to bring it to Paris. Since this could not be done in that time, he was angry and ordered to be set on fire. A rain saved it in the last minute.


The architects of today cannot agree with the idea that has governed the plan behind the building. There is the hypothesis that the builders wanted to dedicate a tribute to the churches in Jerusalem, building eight churches around the ninth, representing the medieval symbol of the star with eight corners (reminiscent of the Lord’s resurrection day). On the other hand, the eight domes symbolize the eight attacks triggered by tsar against the Tatars of Kazan. The original concept of the Cathedral St. Basil remained hidden under layers of additional styles that have been added to the main building. Originally, the cathedral was completely white to match the white walls of the Kremlin. Regarding the towers, they were golden and not as colored as they are today.

In the 17th century a bell tower was added and the domes were replaced and decorated. In 1860, the cathedral was rebuilt, gaining a new paint and a new integrated and complex design, which has been kept until now. During the time of the Soviet Union was called into question the demolition of the church because it stood in the way of Stalin’s plans of organizing parades on the Red Square. The cathedral was saved only because of the courage of the architect Piotr Baralovski who refused orders to begin preparing demolition, sending the Kremlin a telegram of refusal, saying he will cut his throat in front of the cathedral if it will be destroyed; the telegram was going to cost him five years in prison.

Today, St. Basil Cathedral is a museum. During the restoration works of the 70s, in one of the walls was discovered a wooden spiral staircase. Visitors use this scale to enter the main church, which is an architectural masterpiece. Once a year, in October in the cathedral the priests hold the service for the Intercession Day.

Saint Basil Cathedral is open every day of the week, except Tuesday, between 11 to 17o’clock.

It is probably the best known symbol of Moscow and it represents the peak of human creativity and mastery.

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Jun 15

The Red Square, Moscow (Piata Rosie, Moscova)

The Red Square is situated in Moscow, Russia, and it is “flanked” by the Kremlin, on one side, and the Kitai-gorod, a historical trade center, on the other side. Due to the fact that the most important streets and arteries derive from this square, it has led people to the accurate conclusion that the Red Square is the central point of Russia’s capital city, but also of the entire state.

The name of the square might be erroneously attached either to the color of the bricks which were used in constructing the square, or to the symbolical color of communism (‘red’). But in reality, the name of the square derives from the Russian word ‘krasnaya’ which has two meanings: ‘red’, on the one hand, and ‘beautiful’, on the other. However, this latter meaning is almost outdated.


The name was initially used in reference to Saint Basil’s Cathedral, but it was later on reassigned to the square located in close proximity of the aforementioned cathedral. The original name given to the square was Pozhar, which stands for ‘burnt-out place,’ but this is considered to have been changed to ‘Red Square’ sometimes in the 1800s.

There are many events which revolve around this piazza and because of this the square is included in a multitude of paintings, some signed by Konstantin Yuon, Vasily Surikov, etc. Just to name a few, the Red Square was the place where coronation ceremonies of the Tsars of Russia were officiated, and were public announcements and different types of formalities took place (official ceremonies).


The Red Square had always played an important part in the history of Russia. During the communist age, the square was intensely used for military processions. An edifice that is reminiscent of the communist regime is the Mausoleum of Lenin, where the earthly remains of the former Soviet ruler rest in peace. Lenin’s body has been embalmed so tourists can actually gaze on the ruthless leader almost as he appeared before people in his lifetime. The mausoleum is part of the Red Square and it is a must-see location.

The 1930s were extremely relevant in the history of the square. Two important edifices were demolished (Kazan Cathedral and Iverskaya Chapel) with the purpose of enlarging the square so as to make it fit for imposing parades, but also to permit large military vehicles to traverse it. The good news is that the two buildings which were demolished had been reconstructed after the Soviet Union fell.


For the same purpose, Saint Basil’s Cathedral was about to witness the same fate. There is a legend according to which the person in charge of this project of expending the square, Lazar Kaganovich, brought the plan to Stalin in order to get his approval. But when Stalin saw the piazza without the cathedral, he said the now well-known quote: ‘Lazar! Put it back!’, as if he could not envisage the Red Square without that construction.        

The Red Square has been recognized for the great historical value it carries so it has been inscribed in the list of world heritages. Today, the square is a preserved monument, under the UNESCO National Cultural Heritage Law.