St Basil's Cathedral
Church of whimsical shape and colour
Looking like swirly blobs of sherbet-striped soft serve ice-cream, the fantastical onion domes of Moscow's St Basil's Cathedral are instantly recognisable and one of Russia's most iconic images. The Instagram-worthy structure is located near Red Square in the country's capital and is a definite must-see on your Moscow itinerary.
Officially known as the Church of the Intercession, the crazy kaleidoscope of patterns, hues and shapes making up the domes and exterior of the mid-16th century Russian Orthodox cathedral is the realisation of uniquely Russian design. Prior to the building of the red brick St Basil's, this style of tents and domes was only used on wooden churches. The church was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his conquest of the city of Kazan on the day of the feast of the Intercession.
The cathedral consists of a 46 metre-high central chapel with 8 surrounding chapels linked by an elevated gallery. Each chapel has its own distinct carved and coloured onion dome atop a mix of octagonal and cuboid buildings adding to the eclectic yet symmetrical layout. In 1558, an additional chapel was built over the remains of St Basil after whom the church is now known. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible, renowned for his bloodthirsty ways, had the architect of this whimsical cathedral blinded so he would never create such a masterpiece again. The interior is much more sombre than its colour-saturated exterior with faded mosaics and dark furnishings.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, St Basil's Cathedral was closed and then used as a museum celebrating the Russian conquest of Kazan from 1929. Today, St Basil's conducts Sunday services and part of the edifice is still used as a museum allowing visitors to peruse the site. The closest metro station is Ploshchad Revolutsii.
in:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt'>To get to Red Square, the closest metro stations are Ohotnii Ryad, Teatralnaya and Ploshchad Revolutsii to access different areas.
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