The Awe Inspiring St. Basil’s Cathedral

The Red Square is a must see during a trip to Moscow. It is on every top ten list I could find and since our hotel was right near it, I chose to focus on it on the first full day. The list of things to see on the Red Square – Kremlin, GUM Shopping Center, Lenin’s Tomb, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the State Historical Museum. 

Since this was my first day in Moscow and I was venturing out alone, I chose to focus first on the St. Basil’s Cathedral.

When you think of Moscow, Russia, the iconic symbol is the onion domed St. Basil’s Cathedral. It is more beautiful in person than I imagined, and this was the first thing I wanted to see. The admission fee is 700 Rubles (which at the time of my visit was $10.57), and it gave you access to both levels of the building. I did not have a guided tour for the cathedral so my information was limited to the small English descriptions on the exhibits. There definitely was English for most of the items, but having a guided tour would have been nice to find out about the structure more.

The church was build in the mid to late 1500’s and consists of 8 churches centered around a 9th core church, and a ten one was added later to memorialize Basil the Blessed. It was built on orders of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the conquering of Kazan and Astrakhan.

Inside the cathedral is like walking through a maze, small rooms leading to other small rooms, and it seemed like no matter how many rooms I visited, there was always a new one to be found and explored. The cathedral was very serene, and the people walking through it were very quiet and respectful. The whole atmosphere was very reflective and calm.

Ceilings

The ceilings inside the domes were absolutely breath-taking. I would love to research more into the meanings of the murals and ceiling work.

Interior ceiling of the dome of St. Basil’s Cathedral
Interior ceiling of the dome of St. Basil’s Cathedral
Interior ceiling of the dome of St. Basil’s Cathedral
Interior ceiling of the dome of St. Basil’s Cathedral

I could have spent hours in those rooms just looking up at the very tall (photos do not do them justice) and ornate ceilings. 

Murals

The murals on the walls and other ceilings were incredible as well. Almost every inch of wall space was covered with beautiful paintings. They were incredibly intricate and bright. These painting were added later in the late 1600s.

Murals in one of the galleries
One of the chapel’s room with incredible murals on the walls and ceilings
Murals on the ceilings in another chapel room
Columns and walls were covered with incredible murals

Artwork and Tapestries

In addition to the paintings on the walls and ceiling, the artwork and tapestries were incredible as well. Each room had many pieces of creative art and most had an English description, which helped a lot.

Our Lady of the Sign. (1780s) placed outside on the wall of the Holy Trinity Chapel

Artifacts and Exhibits

All through the museum were small exhibits of things that were used in the cathedral – old nails that were discovered or items used by the worshipers. There were many small exhibits and collections, I took a few photos of some of the more interesting ones.

Iron pieces or Fetters that were worn by Christians
Part of the old wall can be seen through the floor of this exhibit room.
Trunks and Medallions
Items used for worship

Views from the Cathedral

The views from various parts of the cathedral were incredible. It gave a great vantage point to see the Red Square from above, and you were able to see more of the Kremlin behind the wall.

View of the Red Square and Kremlin from St. Basil’s Cathedral

The St. Basil’s Cathedral was one of the highlights of my trip and shouldn’t be missed during a trip to Moscow. The price is great and it is a wonderful way to spend a coupe of hours just looking at the exhibits and taking photos of all of the architectural features and murals.

 

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