Saint Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic sites in Moscow – hell, in all of Russia. Because much as I realize that one city doesn’t necessarily represent a whole country, especially not one as big as Russia, it’s also not as if there are a whole lot of tourist hotspots in Siberia.
It’s safe to say that most of us have seen photos of this colorful little church, and in person it does not disappoint. The colors are just as vivid as on any postcard, but the surprise is inside. As I’d already visited the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, I wasn’t shocked to find the inside of Saint Basil’s Cathedral covered in bright paint, but that didn’t make it any less impressive.
Although I called this building little, the fact is that it’s only little in comparison to all of the giant buildings near it. Upon entering, I found myself winding through passageways and finding seemingly endless chambers, each more stunning than the last.
In both the Kremlin Armoury Museum and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, I saw examples of paintings framed in gold, often embellished with pearls and precious stones. You have to love that in Russia, even a bright painting isn’t enough by itself – gotta add that bling!
This room at the top of Saint Basil’s Cathedral was my favorite. Although it was cold, as the upper level is open, the detail work on such a grand scale took my breath away. A male a cappella group chanting added to the holy ambiance, and if it hadn’t been for my nose slowly losing feeling, I would have stayed up here longer.
I mentioned that my first view of Saint Basil’s Cathedral made me giddy and drove home that I was really in Russia. While I never tired of the view of Saint Basil’s from Red Square – or of photographing it from every possible angle – the chance to explore this iconic church from the inside was one of the highlights of my trip.
The story goes that Ivan the Terrible, who commanded Saint Basil’s Cathedral be built, was so impressed by the building that he had the architect blinded so that Ivan’s commission would remain his most beautiful work. Lovely. But while I obviously don’t condone architect-blinding, I can sort of understand Ivan. Because even after all these years, Saint Basil’s might still be the most beautiful building in Russia.