Category: moscow

St. Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in Red Square in Moscow,
Russia. A church was built on this site from 1555-1561 upon the order of Ivan
the Terrible, but it burned down in 1583 and was rebuilt by 1593. The church
has been expanded and renovated throughout its history. In the 1680’s,
construction of the wraparound ground-floor arcades visually united the nine chapels
of the original cathedral into a single building. The sources that inspired
this colorful structure are disputed, although many claim the structure is influenced
by the Italian Renaissance. The central core of the church has four chapels
placed on the four major compass points in an octagonal pattern, the larger chapels
are on massive foundations, while the small chapels were placed on raised
platforms to designate their position between heaven and earth. Each chapel is
dedicated, with the ninth chapel added to honor St. Basil. The interior boasts
a labyrinth of narrow vaulted corridors, with the central church reaching 151
feet in height. The structure was said to be white in color with gold domes,
but the church’s vivid colors were applied in several stages from the 1680’s to
1848. The colors are said to depict the Heavenly City in the Book of
Revelation. The walls of the church are mixed red brickwork and painted
imitation bricks with white ornaments. The domes are covered in tin and
uniformly gilded with a traditional combination of white, red and gold colors,
while their green and blue ceramic insets provide a touch of the rainbow. The
building is shaped as a flame rising from a bonfire. As part of the program of
state atheism, the church was confiscated during the Bolshevik Revolution.
Since 1928, the Russian Orthodox community has operated the church as a State
Historical Museum. St. Basil’s Cathedral was completely secularized in 1929 and
remains the federal property of the Russia Federation. St. Basil’s cathedral is
open to the public as a science museum. 

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