SAINT BASIL'S, Presentation

Audio File length: 2.29
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Marcy, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World, St. Basil’s Cathedral.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, originally known as Trinity Church, is actually dedicated to the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat, but is known by its current name because it houses the remains of St. Basil. It was built between 1555 and 1561 at the request of Tsar Ivan IV to commemorate the capture of the Mongol strongholds of Kazan and Astrakhan.

A masterpiece of Russian art, the colorful cathedral is like no other in the world. It is actually a complex of nine churches and the highest tower reaches 46 meters high.

The cathedral's architects designed a completely symmetrical layout, with eight side churches placed around a central one. The central core and four larger churches have an octagonal shape and rest firmly on solid foundations, while the four smaller churches, with quadrangle bases, are built on raised platforms. In 1588, a tenth chapel was added, built right on the tomb of Saint Basil.

The beautiful cathedral has not always had such a unique appearance, and has undergone many changes over the centuries. It was only between 1680 and 1848 that it acquired its characteristic bright colors, when the blue and green ceramic covers were added.  Before that, the exterior was simply red with white ornamentation, and the eight small onion domes were golden.

Inside the cathedral you will find yourself in a labyrinth of corridors and chapels ornately decorated with a technique called "pod kirpich", or "fake brick" that recreates the effect of a brick wall, alternating with rich seventeenth-century floral decorations that extend to the vaults. The resulting style is unmistakable and represents a unique example of Russian architecture.

 

Let me leave you with an interesting fact: The nickname of Ivan the Terrible is linked to a legend that after the work on the cathedral was completed, Tsar Ivan IV had the architects’ eyes sewed shut and their tongues cut off so that they could never build another cathedral whose beauty could rival St. Basil’s.

 

 

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