February 18, 2011

Moscow : St. Basil's Cathedral

Every country or city has its own signature buildings or natural wonders, the main attractions that adorns most of tourism brochures, books and postcards. Paris is synonymous with the Eiffel Tower, India is proud with the Taj Mahal, and nobody goes to Kuala Lumpur without visiting the Petronas Twin Towers. 

The first sighting of St. Basil’s Cathedral was the moment I realized that I wasn’t dreaming, *double slaps own cheek* I was indeed in this once a Soviet Union country.

Its colorful onion domes are instantly recognizable around the world as emblems of Moscow and it is the most recognizable symbol of Russia.

When I first entered the Red Square, I spotted it right away at the other end of the square. But I saved the best for last, touring the other attractions around the square first. As I laid my eyes on the cathedral for the very first time, I was awe-struck. It drew my eyes like a magnet. Standing so majestic, no wonder this cathedral made it as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. 

I found myself coming back to gaze on its fantastic shapes and colors time and time again, which explains why you see me posing at the same place with different outfits. *camwhore alert* Hehehe… 

This renowned Russian architecture masterpiece, together with the Red Square and the Kremlin, was inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1990. Built over 6 years in the mid of 16th century, commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral was built to commemorate the victory on the Mongols in 1552 in the city of Kazan. 

Unbeknownst to many, the cathedral’s official name is Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, referring to the day that victory over Kazan was established, the day of the Intercession of the Virgin, and to the moat that runs beside the Kremlin. The popular St. Basil nickname comes from Basil the Blessed, Fool for Christ, whose remains are interred within. 

It is now a museum, but once a year on the Day of Intercession in October, a service is held in the cathedral.

Famous for its swirling riot of colors and onion-shaped domes, the cathedral was designed by Postnik Yakovlev. It is said that he was blinded after the completion of the cathedral, to prevent him from ever designing anything to rival its beauty. 

But I think it looks almost like the sibling of The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. 

See the resemblance?


Seeing the extravagant looking exterior, one couldn’t help but wonder what is it like inside? 

If you observe the cathedral, you can see that there are a total of 10 dome altogether. The cathedral consists of 9 chapels built on a single foundation; one under each of the onion domes and the tall central tower unifies the structure as a whole.

The interior is like a maze, the chapels are all connected by a narrow, dimly lit passages and low arches, and the walls are covered in beautiful patterned paintwork. It's an interesting experience to walk through the chapels where you’d have to climb high steps to get to each of them. The chapels themselves were full of iconostasis, frescoes of saints and beautifully decorated paintings, making the interior equally impressive as the exterior.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside since we didn't pay for the ticket (yes you need to pay to take photos inside the cathedral), so I leave them to your imagination. 

Before heading out, we visited the saint whose name is widely used around the world in his chapel.

Anyway, right in front of the cathedral stands the Statue to Minin and Pozharsky, the 2 men who rallied Russia’s volunteer army to fight Polish invaders in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. 

How to go there: Nearest metro station would be Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Kitay-Gorod. 


June Malik said...

magnificient lah :)

p!nkerton said...

cantiknya, colourful! aku ada fridge magnet dia je ;p tu pun dah gembira habis hahahaha ;p

Ernie Khairina said...

yes, what is it like inside?
thanks for sharing =)

rara said...

kak june: indeed! :)

kak kerton: haha.. aku tak beli pon fridge magnet dia.. just beli buku as souvenir.

ernie: welcome :) the inside, all i can say is sangat cantik!

mancet said...

cantik the place,finally somebody found another meaning of basil.huahuaa..kantoi aku,seb baik mmg ade makna dlm arab :)

rara said...

mancet: hahaha lupa pulak nama anak kau basil ;p