Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Russia Travel Notes - St Basil's Cathedral (Moscow)

Just realised I have not even had 1 post about my greatest passion in life.... travelling! Let's talk about Moscow.

Introducing the St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia. Situated in the Red Square, the Cathedral was built by Czar Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible*) between 1555 to 1561. It was erected to commemorate the victory of Russian army over the Kazan Khanate** and final liberation from Tatar-Mongol yoke***.

The St Basil's Cathedral was initially built to incorporate 9 chapels, consisting of 8 octagon-shaped towers with round domes (4 big ones, 4 small ones) and a single largest one in the centre with a high marquee. It wasn't until the 1670s, however, that the domes were patterned thereby creating the multi-coloured exterior. Subsequently, 2 churches were added and as of today, there is a total of 11 churches making up the Cathedral. In 1812, Napoleon once ordered the Cathedral to be destroyed but his troop did not have enough time to complete the task. Thank goodness, otherwise we would have lost such a beauty.

The interior of the Cathedral pales in comparison to it's colourful external façade. The churches are decorated with simple frescoes of flowers and Saints and from what I can recollect, are extremely dim and narrow.

The statue in front of St Basil's is known as the Minin and Pozharskiy Monument which is put up in 1818 to remember the 2 heros who led Russia in a revolt against the Polish invaders.

How much do I love the St Basil's Cathedral, I think my 2 companions can tell you. In the 3 days that we stayed in Moscow, we went to the Red Square every single day to catch a glimpse of the Cathedral. It is simply great and no doubt my favourite building in the world.

I have conquered St Basil's!

* Ivan IV acquired his notorious nickname of Ivan the Terrible because of his cruel ways. He was not always a terror but his personality changed drastically after his wife, Anastasia died. It was believed that Anastasia was poisoned and ever since, Ivan IV became very suspicious and constantly worried that people are plotting to replace him. That's probably why he turned to cruelty. Ivan the Terrible killed one of his son in a fit of anger! It was also said that Ivan IV blinded the eyes of the architect who built the Cathderal so that he will not be able to create anything more beautiful than this. See how "terrible" he was?

** A medieval state which consisted of the state of Kazan (and other states), the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Republic of Tatarstan is in turn a subject of the Russian Federation.

*** Did you know the Mongol Yoke had once taken Russia? In the early 13 century, Batu Khan (grandson of Ghenkis Khan) led his army which invaded Russia and won the battle. Russia remained under the Mongolian rule for the next 2 centuries.

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