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Russia: St. Basil's Cathedral

Built on the eastern edge of the Red Square in the mid 16th century, St. Basils Cathedral raises with colorful exuberance upon the landscape. The cathedral was commissioned to commemorate Ivan the Terrible's winning campaign against the Mongols at Kazan. Finished in just six years St. Basils was opened in 1561. Legend has it that Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded so he would not be able to build a structure more beautiful than this cathedral.

The building holds nine separate chapels, which are topped with colorful onion shaped domes. Each chapel represents a victorious battle at Kazan. Built of red brick and swirling colors, St. Basils has become a defining element of the Red Square and the whole of Russia.

Named after Basil the Blessed (1468-1552), St. Basils Cathedral is steeped in religious symbolism. This cathedral was built as a representation of the Holy Kingdom as described in the Book of Revelation. The eight domed towers surround a ninth central spire that forms an eight-pointed star. This symbolizes the resurrection of Christ; on the eighth day by the ancient Jewish calendar, Christ was resurrected. In 1558, the body of St. Basil was entombed within the cathedral.

One of the most photographed and visited destinations in Russia, St. Basils should be at the top of any travelers list.


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