The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat,
Russian: Pokrovskiy Cathedral, better known as the
Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed, Saint Basil's
Cathedral, or The Cathedral of the Protection of the
Mother of God is a multi-tented church on the Red Square
in Moscow that also features distinctive onion domes.
The cathedral is traditionally perceived as symbolic
of the unique position of Russia
between Europe and Asia.
The cathedral was commissioned by Ivan IV (also known
as Ivan the Terrible) and built between 1555 and
1561 in Moscow to commemorate the
capture of the Khanate of Kazan.
In 1588 Tsar Fedor Ivanovich had a chapel added on the
eastern side above the grave of Basil Fool for Christ
(yurodivy Vassily Blazhenny), a Russian Orthodox saint
after whom the cathedral was popularly named.
Saint Basil's is located at the southeast end of Red S
quare, just across from the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin.
Not particularly large, it consists of nine chapels
built on a single foundation.
The cathedral's design follows that of contemporary
tented churches, notably those of Ascension in
Kolomenskoye (1530) and of St John the Baptist's
Decapitation in Dyakovo (1547).
The interior of the cathedral is a wonderful
collection of separate chapels, each filled with
beautiful icons, medieval painted walls, and
varying artwork on the top inside of the domes.
The feeling is intimate and varied, in contrast to
Western cathedrals which usually consist of a
massive nave with one artistic style.
In a garden at the front of the cathedral stands a
bronze statue commemorating Dmitry Pozharsky and
Kuzma Minin, who rallied Russia's volunteer army
against the Polish invaders during the Time of
Troubles in the late sixteenth and
early seventeenth centuries.
The statue was originally constructed in the center
of Red Square, but the Soviet government felt it
obstructed parades and moved the statue
in front of the cathedral in 1936.
The initial concept was to build a cluster of chapels,
one dedicated to each of the saints on whose feast
day the tsar had won a battle, but the construction
of a single central tower unifies these
spaces into a single cathedral.
A popular but untrue legend says that Ivan had the
architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him
from building a more magnificent
building for anyone else.
It has been recently speculated that certain elements
of Timurid monuments in Samarkand or of Kazan Qolsharif
mosque were pictured in this cathedral, because
this mosque was the main symbol of Khanate of Kazan.
The original look of the mosque is unknown, however.
Saint Basil's Cathedral should not be confused with
the Moscow Kremlin, which is situated right
next to it on Red Square.
It is not at all a part of the Moscow Kremlin.
However, many publications do make the mistake of
calling this structure the Kremlin.
The misconception has inadvertently been reinforced
by Western television journalists, who have often
stood in front of St. Basil's during their reports.