The St. Basil’s Cathedral, or the Church of the Intercession on the moat, or Pokrovsky Cathedral, is the most recognizable temple of Moscow, became a symbol of all Russia. This Orthodox Church on the Red Square is part of the complex included in the UNESCO world heritage site. The temple was built in the 1555-1561 years, on the vow of Ivan the terrible, in gratitude for the protection of the heavenly powers in the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan: Kazan fallen in 1552, the day after the feast of the Intercession of the Mother of God 1 (14) Oct.
Before the XVII century the St. Basil’s Cathedral was named “Holy Trinity” as the original wooden Church was consecrated in the name of the Holy Trinity. The Cathedral was to be erected on a strictly symmetrical plan, involving the construction around the Central tent of the seven chapels — the number of religious holidays observed during the Kazan campaign. However, the builders of the Church, according to the canons of ancient Russian architecture, built eight chapels, eventually getting more harmonious, eight-pointed star-shaped architectural plan. Despite the fact that the chapels of the temple vary in shape and size, in general, the construction produces a very picturesque impression.
The height of the St. Basil’s Cathedral is 46 m, and it fits well in a difficult landscape with strong slope to the side of the Moscow river. Today the Cathedral has 11 domes: 10 domes over the temple (by number of thrones) and the dome of the bell tower. The Cathedral consists of 9 temples: 8 temples located around the ninth towering over them pillars of the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God. All 9 churches united by a common base, bypass the gallery and internal passages.
In 1588 to the Cathedral was built as the Church of St. Basil, which in the future took the current name of the temple. In 1670 appeared the belfry and exterior stairs. Ornamental painting of external and internal galleries, platforms and railings on the porches are also made in the XVII century. The decor of the heads is complicated in the eighteenth century: it was used a notched clutch of small brick, white stone trim, the inclusion of plugs of colored ceramic tiles.
When the Bolsheviks came to power the St. Basil’s Cathedral was closed, the bells melted, and its arch-priest killed. In spite of the troubles that always seemed to surround it, St. Basil’s has remained the symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church, spirituality, and patriotism. Another time the Cathedral fell under threat was when Stalin decided that it was an obstacle to his military parades. The demolition plan was prepared but the architect threatened that if the St. Basil’s Cathedral was ruined, he would cut his throat on its steps. Miraculously, Stalin changed his mind, and the brave architect Piotr Baranovsky was granted a couple of years in prison for saving St. Basil’s Cathedral.
In 1923 the Cathedral was decided to be transformed into a historical and architectural Museum, and in 1928 the Museum “Pokrovsky Cathedral became a branch of the State historical Museum. During world war II the Cathedral was closed, and opened only to 1947, the day of celebration of the 800 anniversary of Moscow. Since 1991 the Cathedral of the Intercession is shared, the State Historical Museum and Russian Orthodox Church. After a long break in the temple was reopened for worship.
Outside the St. Basil’s Cathedral you can see its beautiful domes, all different, which highlight a its striking colorful and rounded shapes. In front of the church, in a garden, a bronze statue stands in honor of Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who gathered volunteers for the army that fought against the Polish invaders during the Time of the Riots (between 1598 and 1613). Many people confuse this cathedral with the Moscow Kremlin, since they are situated next to each other, but the truth is that they are not absolutely related. The visit to this cathedral is often complemented with other tourist attractions also located in the Red Square and the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum or GUM department store.