Except the nice breakfast my hotel served that day, this was the first photo I ever snapped in Moscow. Pity I forgot to instruct my photographer to take a shot of this icon without me. Knowing I had very limited time, I attempted to take it all in at once. Those multi-colored onion domes!
Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The ultimate edifice of Russia.
A few fast facts –
* Address: Red Square, Moskva, 109012
* Opening Hours: 11:00 – 17:00. Close on Tuesdays
* Height: 65 m
* Built by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century (1561)
* Saint Basil’s Cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990
As the cold curdled my blood, my heart rested warm and easy among thoughts on this iconic piece of architecture.
i. Thank you, Pyotr Baranovsky – people’s travel experiences are enriched further by the spectacle that Saint Basil is. An architect and restoration artist, Baranovsky defied Stalin’s orders to demolish Saint Basil, and spent five years in the gulag for that.
ii. What luck! For lack of time the French troops were unable to blow it up
iii. Humans. At least those who are keen on destroying beautiful things, have they no thought for posterity?
iv. Vasily from which Saint Basil is now known for, beside predicting the 1547 fire that burned nearly a third of Moscow, was probably called holy fool for his suffering for Christ.
v. That Ivan the Terrible blinded the architects Barma and Posnik so they could not replicate Saint Basil is a legend that may not be very hard to believe considering Ivan’s nickname.
vi. Then some claim that at Basil’s funeral, Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer. Would Basil have minded if he knew before his body gave out from all that suffering?
vii. Specify! The anthem of my lecture to a bunch of undergrads working on a business presentation which will serve as their final exam. We meet again soon. If I see no improvement, I will start using Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokus on the Moat (Saint Basil official name) as example on how to make a descriptive title.
viii. Like Order of the Rose, of the Garter, of the Spandex, so on. Just specify.
ix. Saint Basil would probably not appeal as much or set anyone in childlike awe if it had retained its original white and gold colors
x. According to one theory, Saint Basil symbolizes Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God which I have always thought as such until a friend told me stories of his years in Israel working for the UN.
xii. Jerusalem as a heavenly city has walls decorated with precious stones. So that is where the colors come in. I cast a searching glance at one of my drawers. Someone has not worn those turquoise, rose quartz, onyx, jasper necklaces in awhile.
xii. A theory that makes me want to play The Holy City on the piano. Alas, this apartment I am in right now has none of that instrument so I’ll make do with some lyrics – A dream so fair / Jerusalem, Jerusalem lift up your gates and sing / Hosanna in the highest…
xiii. ‘The sun grew dark with mystery, the morn was cold and chill…’ I finally found the line that perfectly describes the way Saint Basil looked and felt when I first saw it.