St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

The spectacular St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century to commemorate a military victory. It is easily the most famous sight on Red Square.

Although it’s known to everyone as St. Basil’s, this legendary building is officially called “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat”. The popular alternative refers to Basil the Blessed, a Muscovite ‘holy fool’ who was buried on the site (in the Trinity Cathedral that once stood here) a few years before the present building was erected. The Cathedral was ordered by Ivan the Terrible to mark the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. It was completed in 1560. That’s pretty much all the genuine history that’s known about this celebrated landmark. There, however, scores of legends. Nothing is known about the builders, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, except their names and the dubious legend that Ivan had them blinded so that they could not create anything to compare. Historians unanimously state that this is nothing but urban folklore.


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