St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral is Moscow’s most famous artistic work of architecture. Also called "Pokrovsky Cathedral" or "The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat", it is the most recognizable Russian building. This Cathedral is to the Russians what the Eiffel Tower is to the French, an honorable symbol of their past, present, and future.

The temple was founded in 1552, upon the decree of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, in honor of the capture of the Kazan Khanate. The Temple was consecrated in honor of the Holy Trinity. In 1554 on its place Ivan the Terrible ordered to build the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin with the chapels which would commemorate the victory over the Tartars. People called the new temple the Protection of the Ditch, since the cathedral was built near a deep ditch which was along the eastern wall of the Kremlin.

Among the most valuable exhibits one must mention the chalice (liturgical vessel for the consecration of the wine) of the 17th century, which belonged to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. An interesting collection of bells made in Russia, Belarus, Holland, France and Germany, as well as weapons of Ivan the Terrible’s times are represented in St. Vasili's Cathedral. The collection is included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Russia.

Upon Joseph Stalin’s ascent to the head of the Soviet Union, Saint Basil’s fell out of favor and was in danger of being destroyed in order to make room on Red Square for larger demonstrations and marches. Architect Pyotr Baranovsky supposedly sent a telegram to Stalin saying he would rather kill himself than demolish the historic cathedral, and subsequently spent five years in prison. During that time the state’s attitude changed and Saint Basil’s was spared.

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