St. Basil’s Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed is widely considered to be Moscow’s most famous piece of architecture and an iconic landmark in Russia.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square is one of the most famous buildings in the world and has stood watch over countless historic and political events throughout history. It is open to the public all year-round and invites visitors inside to marvel at its beauty.
Located on the Red Square in central Moscow, St. Basil’s Cathedral was constructed in the 16th century under orders from Tsar Ivan the Terrible to celebrate his conquest of the Khanate of Kazan.
It’s a symbol for Russian Orthodox church architecture, and according to the legend, Ivan the Terrible blinded Postnik Yakovlev (the building’s architect) after finishing the construction, so he could never recreate this work of art elsewhere, or build a better version overseas.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral has survived its fair share of disaster and has fought off fires, survived Napoleon’s invasion, and even avoided plans for its demolition by Stalin collaborators who felt its location in the Red Square hindered their military parades.
Despite the ongoing troubles that surrounded the church somehow remained a strong symbol of spirituality and patriotism across Russia. However, one attack that the cathedral didn’t survive was that against the belfry.
Over the decades, the cathedral has had a multitude of bells but only one has survived to present day as in 1929 the soviet authorities melted down all bar one of the bronze bells.
Today visitors can step inside the famed building and explore the narrow pathways that lead from one room to another and admire the 400+ paintings that hang on the walls.
The Soviet State confiscated it in 1929, after the Bolshevik Revolution, and since then it has only been used for church services occasionally. St Basil’s Cathedral has first and foremost served as a museum and tourist attraction.
The whole Red Square, including Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, have been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1990.
In the small museum, you’ll find a number of exhibits including holy banners, mica windows, and the chains of Ivan the Blessed. As you wander the labyrinth of winding pathways to exit, be sure to admire the beautifully painted narrow corridors.
Before heading inside the cathedral make sure you step back in Red Square and admire the exterior of the building including the bright colorful domes
The cathedral is made up of nine rooms and chapels and visitors can explore each one in turn. All rooms are decorated differently and are dedicated to each of the saints on whose festivities Ivan the Terrible won the battle.
The St Basil’s Cathedral sits in the heart of Moscow on Red Square and is quite hard to miss if you’re exploring in the vicinity due to its brightly colored domed roof.
If you’re arriving via Moscow Leningradsky Railway Station simply head outside and take metro line one from Komsomol’skaya station and alight at Okhotnyy Ryad (4 stops). From here the cathedral is a 9-minute walk away.
Make the most of your time in Moscow by visiting nearby attractions. The below museums, galleries, and monuments are all within walking distance from St Basil’s Cathedral
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