31 Saint Basil's Cathedral Facts: Here's What You Need To Know!

Gincy Alphonse
Sep 28, 2022 By Gincy Alphonse
Originally Published on Apr 17, 2022
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
These Saint Basil's Cathedral facts will amaze and astound you!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

Saint Basil's Cathedral is one of the most famous churches in the world.

Located in Moscow, Russia, this cathedral is a masterpiece of Russian architecture. It has been featured in many films and television shows and is a popular tourist destination.

If you're ever in Moscow, be sure to visit Saint Basil's Cathedral. There are so many interesting things to see and learn about Saint Basil's Cathedral. In this article, we will share some cool facts about this amazing cathedral!

History Of Saint Basil's Cathedral

The most notable architectural work in Moscow is St Basil's Cathedral. It is also known as the 'Pokrovsky Cathedral' or the 'Church of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat.' It is one of the most well-known Russian buildings.

St Basil's Cathedral serves as an honorable symbol of Russia's history, much like the Eiffel Tower serves as an honorable symbol of France's.

The cathedral is located in Moscow's Red Square, directly across from the Ivory Gate Chapel.

Executions, protests, riots, marches, and speeches have all taken place in the Red Square.

The history of Saint Basil's Cathedral began in 1555, when Tsar Ivan IV had it built to commemorate the destruction of Kazan, the Mongol Empire's last hold on European territory.

According to legend, Tsar Ivan the Terrible blinded the cathedral's architect shortly after the cathedral's construction was completed in order to prevent him from building another cathedral as spectacular as that.

Its sides were initially made of wood, but during Catherine II the Great's reign, the walls were rebuilt in the same stone as they have now, with swirling colors and decorations.

St Basil's Cathedral was shut, the bronze bells melted, and the arch-priest executed when the Bolsheviks took power. The cathedral was also threatened when Stalin felt that it was obstructing his military parades.

The destruction plan was drawn up, but an architect threatened to cut his throat on the cathedral's steps if it was destroyed.

Surprisingly, Stalin changed his mind, and Piotr Baranovsky, the brave architect who saved Saint Basil's, was imprisoned for a few years.

The Cathedral of Saint Basil is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Features Of Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil's Cathedral is built around a huge central church known as the Intercession. Four large churches are grouped like compass points around the central core, while four smaller churches are aligned diagonally.

The church was seized from the Russian Orthodox community due to the State's atheism slant. 

The 'Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat' is the full name of St Basil's Cathedral. It is also known as the Trinity Cathedral and the Pokrovosky Cathedral.

The magnificent Saint Basil's Cathedral, located on Moscow's Red Square, was built between the years 1555-1561.

Nine churches are built on the same foundation. Two galleries connect the two pillar-like churches.

The cathedral has 10 chapels. Each of these chapels has its own unique design.

The exterior of the cathedral is decorated with brightly-colored patterns and images. The interior of the cathedral is very ornate, with gold leafing and detailed paintings.

There are over 400 steps to the top of the bell tower!

The central church is surrounded by an inner gallery, while the outside roundabout gallery surrounds all nine churches.

Four of the cathedral's chapels were dedicated after religious holidays that fell around the time of the Kazan campaign's pivotal events.

Another chapel is named after Saint Trinity, as there was a Trinity Church on this site in the Middle Ages.

Saint Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, and the Red Square were all designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1990.

The cathedral's fairytale beauty is well-known around the world.

Architectural Style Of Saint Basil's Cathedral

It's no wonder that St Basil's Cathedral is regarded as one of Russia's most remarkable architectural accomplishments, with its scarlet-red walls and spectacular onion-shaped domes.

Despite the logical grouping of these chapels, the church as a whole is asymmetrical and appears differently depending on where you're standing when you look at it.

The exterior is decorated with brightly-colored patterns.

The interior of the cathedral is richly-decorated with gold leaf and beautiful oil paintings.

Russian architectural styles did not begin to include more creative color schemes until the 17th century.

The decoration of St Basil's Cathedral was inspired by a chapter from the Book of Revelation that portrays the Heavenly City.

The churches were ornamented with onion domes after a fire in 1595, but it wasn't until the 18th century that they were given their current vibrant hues.

A frieze depicting the history of the cathedral was added in the late 17th century and stayed in place until the end of the 18th century.

Significance Of Saint Basil's Cathedral

Originally built as a commemoration of Ivan's victory over the Kazan Khanate during the Soviet Union era, the cathedral was used as a warehouse and then a museum of atheism.

According to legend, Ivan the Terrible was so taken aback by the cathedral that he ordered the architect to be blinded so that it could never be duplicated.

The cathedral has been known by numerous names, but the current one has been in use since the late 17th century.

Original masonry and paintwork have been retained in some areas, including an inscription commemorating the date of Saint Basil's Cathedral's completion (July 12, 1561), which is lit by a spectacular chandelier.

St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow is composed of nine chapels that are all built on the same foundation.

One of Saint Basil's four little chapels is dedicated to Saint Gregory, the religious leader who converted Armenia to Christianity.

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow is open throughout the week, with the exception of the first Wednesday of every month when it is closed for routine maintenance. It may also close on other days if necessary for repairs and maintenance.


What is St Basil's Cathedral known for?

Saint Basil's Cathedral is most famous for its colorful and ornate architecture. It has also been featured in many films and television shows.

How old is Saint Basil's Cathedral?

The cathedral was built between the years 1555-1561. Thus, that makes it around 461 years old.

Why is Saint Basil's Cathedral so famous?

There are a few reasons why Saint Basil's Cathedral is so famous. Firstly, its unique design commemorates Ivan the Terrible's victory over the Kazan Khanate. Secondly the cathedral was used as a warehouse and then a museum of atheism during Soviet rule.

What is so unique about Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow?

It's not surprising that St Basil's Cathedral in Russia is regarded as one of the most remarkable architectural accomplishments in the country, with its scarlet-red walls and eye-catching onion-shaped domes.

Why was the famous church of Saint Basil in Moscow constructed?

The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, or Pokrovsky Cathedral, is the official name of the church in Russia, which is now a museum. It was constructed under Ivan the Terrible's instructions between 1555-1561 to commemorate the conquering of Kazan and Astrakhan.

What is the oldest church in the world?

The Dura-Europos Church in Syria is deemed the oldest surviving church building in the world, but various historians have also cited the Etchmiadzin Cathedral as the oldest cathedral.

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Written by Gincy Alphonse

Bachelor of Computer Application

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Gincy AlphonseBachelor of Computer Application

As a skilled visual storyteller, Gincy's passion lies in bringing ideas to life through creative design. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Application from New Horizon College and has perfected her expertise with a PG Diploma in Graphic Design from Arena Animation. Gincy's talent shines in the realm of branding design, digital imaging, layout design, and print and digital content writing. She believes that content creation and clear communication are art forms in themselves, and is constantly striving to refine her craft.

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Fact-checked by Niyati Parab

Bachelor of Commerce

Niyati Parab picture

Niyati ParabBachelor of Commerce

With a background in digital marketing, Niyati brings her expertise to ensure accuracy and authenticity in every piece of content. She has previously written articles for MuseumFacts, a history web magazine, while also handling its digital marketing. In addition to her marketing skills, Niyati is fluent in six languages and has a Commerce degree from Savitribai Phule Pune University. She has also been recognized for her public speaking abilities, holding the position of Vice President of Education at the Toastmasters Club of Pune, where she won several awards and represented the club in writing and speech contests at the area level.

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