St. Basil's - Table of Contents ............... Architecture Around the World

Exterior - St. Basil's Russian Orthodox Church

Red Square, Moscow, Russia



Left: GUM ... Center: St. Basil's ... Right: Kremlin

Left: GUM ..... Center? ..... Right: St. Basil's


St. Basil's.
The building's design is shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky.

"Although the towers and domes appear chaotic, there is symmetry and symbolism in its design. There are eight domed chapels symbolizing the eight assaults on Kazan: four large and octagonal and four small and square. In the center is a tent-roofed spire topped with a small golden dome." - Sacred Destinations  (12/10)

The ninth chapel on the east side (left in photo) added in 1588 for Basil's tomb interrupts the symmetry of design somewhat.  Basil the Blessed roamed the streets of Moscow trying to win converts during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. In spite of the brutal Russian winters and unforgiving summers,  many times he conducted his crusade naked.



Note tent roof on the Central Chapel.



Following a fire in 1583 the original helmet-shaped cupolas were replaced by ribbed or faceted onion domes. It is only since 1670 that the domes have been painted many colors; at one time St. Basil's was white with golden domes.

The green and orange dome at the left  tops the Chapel of the Trinity, one of eight main chapels commemorating the campaigns of Ivan the Terrible against the town of Kazan, to the east of Moscow.

The blue and white dome tops the Chapel of St. Cyprian whose feast is on October 2, the day after the last attack.



Center blue and red dome: Chapel of the Three Patriarchs.



Note bricks. The builders used brick as decorative medium inside and outside.


Right:  Chapel of the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem used a ceremonial entrance during the annual Palm Sunday procession. On this day the patriarch rode from the Kremlin to St. Basil's on a horse dressed up to look like a donkey.


Detail - Chapel of the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem







Octagonal roof.


Note the similarity to the 17th century interior decoration in St. Basil's.    





Photos and their arrangement 2010 Chuck LaChiusa
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