St. Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral or also known as The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is located in the Moat, by which people have fixed the name of St. Basil’s Cathedral, is an operating Orthodox church, a museum, one of the main attractions of the Red Square and a recognizable symbol of Moscow and Russia for foreigners, a UNESCO heritage site.

In its highest part, the temple reaches 65 meters. Pokrovsky Cathedral includes 11 thrones, and each of them is consecrated in honor of the church festivities, during which decisive battles for Kazan were carried out. There are no basements, the thrones are in the basement, divided into rooms with a height of almost 6.5 meters.

The brick temple has 11 domes. In addition, 9 are located directly above it, according to the number of thrones; and the main dome in the center is on the throne of the Protection of the Virgin. The tenth dome is located on the chapel of San Basilio, and the last, on the bell tower.

Cathedral History 

Nine churches of the Cathedral of the Intercession were built in the mid-16th century. by order of Ivan the Terrible in memory of the victory over the Kazan Khanate. The central church was dedicated to the Feast of the Protection of the Virgin, which is why the cathedral was called Pokrovsky. A few years later, the famous miracle worker Vasily Blessed was buried near the walls of the cathedral. In that place, the tenth church was added to the temple. Since then, people began calling the Cathedral, St. Basil’s Cathedral.

They say that Blessed Vasily performed many miracles during his life, so Czar Ivan the Terrible read it and listened. Once the Tsar ordered the Tsar to invite Vasily to dinner. They picked him up like a bad guy, but Blessed didn’t drink wine, but splashed out the window. They poured it again, threw it again. The king was angry: “How dare you pour the real wine?” “A fire is going out,” Vasily replied, “Veliky Novgorod is on fire.” The Tsar was surprised and sent a messenger to Novgorod. The messenger returned and confirmed that the city was on fire, but suddenly the fire died out. And it was that same day when the Blessed One was pouring wine.

Catedral de San Basilio

The brick church in the historic center of the capital was built in 1555-1561 at the behest of Ivan the Terrible and in honor of the victory over the Kazan Khanate, which finally won the Day of Protection of the Blessed Virgin.

The architect of St. Basil’s Cathedral (historically and today – Pokrovsky, in addition, a separate church of St. Basil the Blessed was added later) – Postnik Yakovlev, architect of Pskov. This version is now official, although previously it was assumed that the temple could have several important architects.

The Church of San Basilio of the northeast of the cathedral was built in 1588 on the foolish canonized saint buried in the territory, originally it was a separate building. At the end of the 16th century, already under Fedor Ioannovich, curly chapters of the temple were decorated.

The appearance of the famous cathedral changed markedly in the 17th century: the arch was enlarged, porches were equipped with tents and artistic painting was added.

According to historical testimonies of the first third of the 18th century, the cathedral included 18 thrones. At that time, the church had been restored more than once after each of the fires, and the most extensive restoration was required in 1737, after a great fire, which passed into the history of the capital as “Trinity.” The restoration work was directed by I. Michurin.

In the early Soviet years, the old Pokrovsky Cathedral on Red Square was one of the first to be included in the list of monuments protected by the state. Already in 1923, a historical and architectural museum was created. In 1929, the bells were removed from the building, while the museum’s exhibition was available continuously: the building was forced to close only during World War II. Under the simultaneous administration of the Historical Museum and the church, the cathedral complex has been operating since 1991.


Opening hours of the Cathedral of San Basilio

As a museum, the cathedral is open to visitors according to the seasonal schedule:

  • The museum is closed on December 31 and January 1.
    December 30: 11.00-17.00.
    January 2–8: 11.00–18.00.
    November 8 – April 30: 11.00-17.00, every day.
    May 1 – May 31: 11.00-18.00, every day.
    June 1 – August 24: 10.00–19.00, Wednesday is a day off.
    August 25 – September 3: 10.00-16.00, Wednesday is a day off.
    September 4 – November 7: 11.00-18.00, every day.
    The first Wednesday of the month is a health day.

How to get

The temple is part of the whole of the Red Square on the south side, so it is convenient to arrive not only in the classical way, by subway, but also by land: by buses No. 158, m5 to the “Red Square” stop “on Varvarka street. From the stop there will only be a little to go to the temple through the Vasilyevsky Descent.

From Moscow stations it is more convenient to take the subway and get off at one of the many stations within walking distance of the Red Square (depending on the subway line chosen): Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Kitay Gorod.