Saint Basil's Cathedral

Russia's capital city is home to which of the following landmarks?    

Considering Saint Basil's Cathedral, Saint Peter's Basilica, Tiananmen Square and The Acropolis, the answer is: Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Photo credit: Julius Silver, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Commonly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral, the Pokrovsky Cathedral is a church in Moscow's Red Square. Known for its colorful architecture, the Cathedral is one of the most popular symbols of Russia, and sometimes mistaken as the Kremlin. It was built in the mid-1500s on orders from the tsar known as Ivan the Terrible.

Originally constructed as a monument to his military success against the last holdout of the Mongol Empire, Ivan the Terrible ironically created one of the most beautiful symbols of patriotism, spirituality and religion in the Russian empire. The church was dedicated to the protection and intercession of the Virgin Mary, but it came to be known as the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny (St. Basil the Beatified) after Basil, the Russian holy fool who was "idiotic for Christ’s sake" and who was buried in the church vaults during the reign of Tsar Fyodor I from 1584–1598. According to legend, Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect of St. Basil's Cathedral after its creation so that he would never again be able to create a monument of equal beauty and stature.

The Cathedral has faced the threats and effects of the instability of the outside world time and time again. In one legend, Napoleon wanted to take St. Basil’s Cathedral back to France with him. As this was not feasible, he instead ordered his army to destroy it so that it could not be occupied by anyone else. But, when his army had prepared for attack and lit the gunpowder, a mysterious rain shower prevented any explosions from occurring. Later, when the Bolsheviks came to power, the Cathedral's doors were closed and its bells melted. Even Stalin made attempts to destroy the Cathedral, who believed that it stood in the way of his military parades. Yet, unfailingly (and miraculously), St. Basil's has stood tall in its original glory for nearly 500 years.

Take a tour of St. Basil's splendid interior below.

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