St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Moscow, and it is instantly recognizable for its colorful onion domes and intricate architectural features. The cathedral is located in the heart of Red Square and has a long and fascinating history that has made it a must-see destination for tourists from all over the world. Whether you are a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates beauty and grandeur, St. Basil’s Cathedral is a sight that you will never forget.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is not just a magnificent work of art; it is also a crucial part of Russian history and culture. The cathedral was built in the 16th century under the orders of Ivan the Terrible, and it has witnessed many important events over the years, including coronations, weddings, and even military campaigns. Today, St. Basil’s Cathedral is a symbol of Russian national identity and an essential destination for anyone interested in exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage.
In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at St. Basil’s Cathedral and everything that makes it such a fascinating and essential destination for visitors to Moscow. We will explore the history of the cathedral, its architectural features, and the various attractions and activities that are available for visitors. We will also provide practical tips and information for anyone planning a visit, from ticket prices and opening hours to the best times to go and how to avoid the crowds. Whether you are a first-time visitor to Moscow or a seasoned traveler looking to discover new wonders, this guide to St. Basil’s Cathedral is sure to provide you with everything you need to make the most of your experience.
History of St. Basil’s Cathedral
The origins of St. Basil’s Cathedral
St. Basil’s Cathedral was built in the mid-16th century by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his victory over the Tartar army in the city of Kazan. According to legend, Ivan was so impressed by the beauty of the Kazan Cathedral that he ordered its architects to create something similar in Moscow. The result was St. Basil’s Cathedral, a magnificent structure with a unique blend of Russian, Byzantine, and Asian architectural styles.
Construction and architectural features
The construction of St. Basil’s Cathedral took almost a decade, and it involved many skilled artisans and craftsmen from all over Russia. The cathedral has nine separate chapels, each with its own dome and dedicated to a different saint. The domes are arranged in a circle, and the central dome is the tallest and most prominent, reaching a height of 156 feet. The cathedral’s façade is adorned with intricate patterns and colorful tiles, with each chapel featuring its own unique design and color scheme.
Iconic events and figures associated with St. Basil’s Cathedral
Over the centuries, St. Basil’s Cathedral has witnessed many important events and hosted many famous figures. One of the most iconic events was the coronation of Ivan the Terrible in 1547, which marked the beginning of the Romanov dynasty. Other famous figures who have visited the cathedral include Peter the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and even astronaut Yuri Gagarin, who visited the cathedral shortly after his historic spaceflight in 1961. Today, St. Basil’s Cathedral continues to be a symbol of Russian history and culture and a must-see destination for anyone visiting Moscow.
Exploring St. Basil’s Cathedral
Location and Hours of Operation
St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in the heart of Moscow, on Red Square. Its address is 109012, Moscow, Red Square, 7. The cathedral is open to visitors from Monday to Sunday, between 11:00-17:00. It’s important to note that the ticket office and museum close 45 minutes before the museum’s closing time, so it’s best to plan accordingly.
Ticket Prices and Guided Tours
The ticket prices for St. Basil’s Cathedral vary depending on the visitor’s nationality and status. Adult citizens of the Russian Federation and EAEU countries can purchase tickets for 500.00 RUB (approximately $6.50 USD), while adult citizens of other countries can buy tickets for 1000.00 RUB (approximately $13 USD). It’s important to bring a document that confirms your privilege, such as a passport, during your visit.
There are also different types of tickets available, including discounted prices for pensioners, full-time students, children, and disabled people, among others. For up-to-date information on ticket prices and guided tours, it’s best to check the official website at https://shm.ru/. Please note that most of the website is not translated into English, but you can use Google Translate to navigate it.
Tips for Visiting St. Basil’s Cathedral
To make the most out of your visit to St. Basil’s Cathedral, it’s best to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds. It’s also recommended to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking on uneven surfaces. Photography is allowed inside the cathedral, but flash photography is not permitted. Lastly, it’s important to respect the religious significance of the cathedral and its surroundings by dressing appropriately and avoiding disruptive behavior.
Discovering the Interior of St. Basil’s Cathedral
Overview of the interior
St. Basil’s Cathedral is famous for its unique and intricate architecture, but the interior is just as impressive. As you enter the cathedral, you’ll be immediately struck by the colorful, ornate design of the walls and ceilings. The interior is divided into nine chapels, each with its own unique iconostasis and decorations. The chapels are interconnected by narrow staircases and corridors, creating a labyrinthine effect that adds to the overall sense of awe and wonder.
Iconic artworks and relics
One of the most famous artworks in St. Basil’s Cathedral is the “The Trinity” icon, located in the central chapel. This stunning icon, dating back to the 14th century, is considered one of the finest examples of Russian icon painting. Other notable artworks include the “Last Judgment” fresco in the southern chapel, which depicts the final judgment of all humanity, and the “Life-giving Spring” icon in the northern chapel, which is believed to have healing properties.
St. Basil’s Cathedral also houses several important relics, including the incorruptible remains of St. Basil the Blessed, a holy fool and visionary who is said to have predicted the fire that destroyed much of Moscow in 1547. Visitors can see his relics in the chapel dedicated to him on the cathedral’s main level.
What to expect during your visit
Visitors to St. Basil’s Cathedral can expect a unique and unforgettable experience. The interior is dimly lit, with the flickering flames of candles adding to the mystical atmosphere. The narrow staircases and corridors can be somewhat challenging to navigate, but they add to the sense of mystery and discovery. Visitors should plan to spend at least an hour exploring the interior, taking in the intricate decorations and artworks in each chapel.
It’s important to note that photography is not allowed inside the cathedral, so visitors should be sure to take in the beauty and grandeur of the interior with their own eyes. Visitors should also dress modestly and respectfully, as St. Basil’s Cathedral is still an active place of worship. Finally, visitors should be aware that there are no restrooms inside the cathedral, so it’s a good idea to take care of any necessary business before entering.
Surrounding Attractions near St. Basil’s Cathedral
Red Square and its significance
St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in the heart of Moscow, adjacent to Red Square, one of the most famous landmarks in Russia. Red Square has been an important center of trade, commerce, and cultural life in Moscow since the 15th century. The square’s name comes from the Russian word “krasnaya,” which originally meant “beautiful” but later came to mean “red.” The square has been the site of many historical events, including coronations, parades, and military demonstrations. Today, it is a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike.
Other attractions near St. Basil’s Cathedral
In addition to St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square, there are several other attractions in the area worth visiting. The State Historical Museum, located right next to the cathedral, offers a comprehensive look at Russia’s rich history, from ancient times to the present day. The Lenin Mausoleum, situated at the opposite end of Red Square, is the final resting place of the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. The GUM Department Store, also located on Red Square, is one of the largest and most famous shopping centers in Moscow, with dozens of high-end stores and boutiques.
Dining and shopping options in the area
Visitors to St. Basil’s Cathedral will find no shortage of dining and shopping options in the surrounding area. In addition to the restaurants and cafes located inside GUM, there are several other popular eateries nearby, serving everything from traditional Russian cuisine to international fare. For those looking to do some shopping, there are numerous souvenir shops and craft markets in the area, as well as high-end boutiques and luxury stores. Overall, the area around St. Basil’s Cathedral is a vibrant and bustling part of Moscow, offering something for everyone.
St. Basil’s Cathedral: Fun Facts and Trivia
Interesting facts and trivia about St. Basil’s Cathedral
St. Basil’s Cathedral is a world-renowned landmark that is famous for its unique architecture and stunning beauty. Here are some interesting facts and trivia about the cathedral that you may not know:
- St. Basil’s Cathedral was built in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. It was built to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan, two cities that were conquered by Ivan the Terrible’s army.
- The cathedral is named after Saint Basil the Blessed, who was a holy fool and a prophet in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was known for his piety and for his predictions of the future.
- The cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, as it was built on the site of a moat that once surrounded the Kremlin.
- St. Basil’s Cathedral was almost destroyed by Napoleon’s troops during the French invasion of Russia in 1812. However, a sudden rainstorm put out the fires that were set by the invaders, saving the cathedral from destruction.
- The cathedral has a total of nine chapels, each of which is dedicated to a different saint or holy event. The most famous of these is the central chapel, which is dedicated to the Intercession of the Virgin Mary.
- The cathedral’s architecture is famous for its colorful onion-shaped domes, which are a signature feature of Russian Orthodox Church architecture. The domes are made of wood and covered with tin or copper.
- The cathedral was used as a museum during Soviet times, and it was only returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Little-known stories and legends associated with the landmark
St. Basil’s Cathedral has a rich history, and there are many stories and legends associated with the landmark. Here are some of the most interesting:
- Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible blinded the architects who designed St. Basil’s Cathedral so that they would never be able to create anything as beautiful again.
- There is a legend that says that there is a secret tunnel that connects St. Basil’s Cathedral to the Kremlin. According to the legend, the tunnel was used by Ivan the Terrible to escape from the cathedral in times of danger.
- Another legend says that there is a hidden room somewhere in St. Basil’s Cathedral that contains the treasures of Ivan the Terrible. According to the legend, the room can only be found by a person who is pure of heart and who has a true love of Russia.
- There is a story that says that the architect who designed St. Basil’s Cathedral was so proud of his work that he had the eyes of his craftsmen gouged out so that they could never create anything as beautiful again.
- Some people believe that the cathedral was built using magic. According to legend, Ivan the Terrible hired a group of magicians to help him build the cathedral, and they used their magic to create the beautiful and intricate designs that adorn the building.
As we conclude this article on St. Basil’s Cathedral, it’s worth recapping the immense importance and value of this iconic landmark. From its striking architectural design to its rich cultural and religious significance, St. Basil’s Cathedral continues to draw millions of visitors from all around the world each year. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Moscow, a visit to St. Basil’s Cathedral is a must-do experience.
Our final thoughts and recommendations would be to plan your visit to St. Basil’s Cathedral in advance and give yourself ample time to explore and appreciate all that this landmark has to offer. You’ll be able to discover fascinating facts and stories about the cathedral’s history, view breathtaking artwork and relics, and take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the structure itself.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re planning a trip to Moscow, be sure to add St. Basil’s Cathedral to your itinerary and experience the wonder of this iconic landmark for yourself. The Expedigate team wishes you a pleasant and memorable visit to St. Basil’s Cathedral.