• Experience a piece of Russia's imperial history at St. Basil's Cathedral

    2014-06-10

    Few places in Europe have as much cultural history as Russia. The largest country in the world is home to some of the most extreme weather, the most intriguing political history and the most breathtaking culture. One of the most famous monuments in the entire country, St. Basil's Cathedral stands as a monument to the grandiosity of classical Russian imperialism. For travelers who want to experience this impressive bit of Russian culture, it may be time to start planning for Europe travel.

    An imperial history
    Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century, St. Basil's Cathedral was built over a five-year period between 1555 and 1560 as a way to commemorate an important military victory. Like many historical monuments, the common name of St. Basil's is actually a misnomer. At its dedication, the cathedral was known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat, after the holiday feast day that marked the Russian victory. The nickname was given in honor of St. Basil, who had left a favorable impression on Ivan in 1547, one blogger wrote.

    The construction of the cathedral displays many influences from Jerusalem, such as its famous onion-shaped domes. The building features nine such domes, which form the shape of a star when viewed from above. Though construction was completed in 1560, the cathedral continued to receive aesthetic updates throughout the centuries. According to Lonely Planet, the domes were painted their trademark bright colors in the 1670s, and the exterior was gilded and whitewashed in the late 1700s. Nearly meeting its doom in the early 19th century, Napoleon ordered the building destroyed; fortunately, his soldiers didn't' have time to carry out his command, and St. Basil's continues to stand to this day.

    A cultural epicenter
    Located in Moscow's famous Red Square, visitors to St. Basil's Cathedral will find not just the church, but also many of Moscow's other cultural gems nearby to visit. The cathedral's interior is a showcase for breathtaking architectural ornamentation in its frescoes and decorative arches. Once travelers have experienced the cathedral proper, there is plenty nearby to see and do. In fact, according to Lonely Planet, visitors can purchase a joint ticket that allows entry into both St. Basil's Cathedral and the State History Museum. The Kremlin, the ornate and imposing seat of Russian political power, is also nearby in the Square, for those who wish to round off their trip with a visit to another of the country's most important and well-known sites.

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