When Was St. Basil's Cathedral Built?

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.
St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.

Located in Moscow, Russia, St. Basi's Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 to commemorate the successful conquest of the Kazan and Astrakhan. Construction took nearly ten years to complete, and the cathedral was consecrated in 1561.

Who Built the Cathedral?

Little is known about who really built the cathedral, but according to legend the masterpiece was designed by architects Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, who were later blinded by Ivan the Terrible so that they could not recreate the building ever again. However, historians generally agree that the story is simply urban folklore.

Structure of St. Basil's Cathedral

The cathedral was designed in a shape that resembles a bonfire rising into the sky, and is comprised of eight churches surrounding a large core building. Most of the building’s walls are built from red brick, which was a new material at the time of its construction, while the cathedral's foundation was made of white stone.

Naming of St. Basil's Cathedral

The cathedral has had numerous names since it was first built. It was originally known as “Trinity Church,” which was later changed to “Intercession Church.” The cathedral was then referred to as "Jerusalem," and its current name was eventually adopted in the 17th century, named after St. Basil the Blessed.

Development of St. Basil's Cathedral

In 1583, not long after its completion, the cathedral was destroyed by fire, and required another ten years of restoration. In 1680 the church was expanded by opening parts of the ground floor which had been sealed since inception. In 1737 the church was once again destroyed by fire, but was restored by Ivan Michurin. During the Soviet era Stalin wanted the building demolished, as he felt it hindered his plans for the city. However, Pyor Baranovsky, an architect who had been ordered to prepare the building for demolition, categorically refused the order and sent a telegram to Kremlin. The demolition was finally averted, though Baranovsky was sent to prison for five years. St. Basil's Cathedral has been underwent significant restorations over the years to reach its current state, and now serves a museum.

Significance in Modern Russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral has sustained centuries of fires, wars, and storms but magnificently stands tall right in the center of Moscow. The building plays a significant role in modern-day Russia, as it is seen as the symbol and monument of the nation. It is among the most visited structures in the world, and many tourists visit Russia every year to see the famed edifice. The cathedral is a representation of medieval art and architecture.


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