A walk through the history of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

We are going to visit a spectacular corner, Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. A wonderful and unique building that hides spectacular secrets that we want to reveal to you. Do not miss it!

Some facts about Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

The real name is Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin next to the moat. It is located in the southern area of ​​Red Square, near the Kremlin’s Savior Gate, on the top of the slope leading to the Moskova River, in the heart of Moscow.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow it was built in the middle of the 16th century, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The main reason was the commemoration of Russia’s victory over the Kazan Khanate. It is not known what was in this place before the construction of the temple, whose first mention is in the autumn of 1554.

It is said that it was a cathedral made of wood, but that six months later it was dismantled to begin the construction of the stone one. The builders were the architects Barma and Postnik, although there are scholars who claim that they are the names of the same person.

There is a legend around Postnik that tells that the tsar ordered the architect to be blinded so that in the future he could not build a better work. It seems, however, that it could be just that, a legend.

Chapters of the history of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

Building the cathedral took six years. Moscow being so cold, the biggest advances were in the hot season. This cathedral was built in brick; however, both the foundations and the plinth and the various elements of the decoration were made of white stone.

In 1559 much of the work was finished. However, the central church and the entire cathedral were not consecrated until July 12, 1591.

the tenth church

The cathedral maintained its original appearance, with its nine chapels, until 1588, when in the northeast area the tenth church was built next to it, which was erected on the tomb of Saint Basil. This saint spent a lot of time in his life observing the construction of the work and wanted to be buried next to it.

The Muscovite saint, to whom many miracles were attributed, died in 1557. After being canonized, Tsar Fyodor Ionnanovich, son of Ivan the Terrible, had the church built; it was a separate temple with a separate entrance.

The mortal remains of Saint Basil were in a silver urn that was lost in the early 17th century. The memory of the saint was constant during the masses, for which reason the cathedral was named after it. Hence, it is popularly called Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

the great fire

In 1737, there was a great fire in which the church suffered severe damage. Reconstruction works lasted from 1770 to 1780 and radical changes were made to them. In addition, the altars of other churches that were in the surroundings and that were demolished to avoid more fires were moved to it.

A cathedral under threat

Not only fire has threatened this cathedral throughout its history. In 1812, Napoleon ordered his troops to blow up the temple. In the end it was only looted, which allowed it to be reformed after the war.

Already at the end of the 19th century, it was thought to return the cathedral to its original appearance. To do this, a commission of experts made up of painters, scientists and architects was created. The sad thing is that, due to lack of funds and the October Revolution of 1917, this plan was stopped.

Years later, according to some stories, Stalin’s collaborators planned to tear down Saint Basil’s Cathedral to give more space to the Red Square. Again, the temple was saved, this time by the decision of the dictator himself.


“Architecture, of all the arts, is the one that acts the slowest, but surely the one that works the most in the soul”

-Ernest Dimnet-

As you can see, Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow has been able to survive numerous vicissitudes of history. Religious services were held again, and since 1991 the use of the building has been shared between the Historical Museum and the Russian Orthodox Church. Today it is a World Heritage Site and a must-see in the Russian capital.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button