Have you ever seen a ‘kaleidoscope’? It is an old, classic, tube-shaped toy that you look through like a telescope. One end contains bits of colored glass. You press the viewing end to your eye, hold it up to the light, and rotate the tube.
Then, the magic begins! Brilliant, abstract, and repeating patterns of colors flash before your eyes!
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is like that.
Fun Fact: Orange, blue, green, and yellow columns spiral up to domes that resemble bonfire flames. Like a kaleidoscope, it is a blaze of colors and patterns to the eye and to the imagination.
Ivan IV (Ivan, the 4th), First Tsar of Russia
Not a good way to be remembered, but in 1555, this Ivan ordered the construction of a church memorial to boast of his military victories.
Another Ivan, remembered as Ivan the Great, fathered another Ivan – who eventually completed this structure in 1561(in those days, when mother called “Ivan” everyone came running).
Do you know why Ivan was so terrible? Legend says that Ivan the Terrible blinded the eyes of the Italian architect of the building. so that the design could never be repeated.
Who is Saint Basil?
This churchman was a poor and humble peasant who went about in rags and shunned the comforts of life. But, he became known for his ability to foretell the future.
In 1547, he warned Ivan the Terrible that a fire would devastate Moscow. That very same year, the prediction came true.
The Great Fire of 1547 killed 3,000 people and left 80,000 homeless. When Saint Basil died in 1552, he was buried at the original site of what was much later to be renamed Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
Fast-Forward in History
Through the years, construction and name changing continued on the church project which was begun by Ivan the Terrible.
Another fire in 1583 actually burned the church to the ground. A series of multiple structures on the same foundation were rebuilt, only to be destroyed by still another great fire in 1737. This is when the magnificent colors were applied gradually in the stages of rebuilding.
Saint Basil Cathedral Officially Named
Another chapel was built over the remains of our humble Saint Basil in 1588. This name now stands as a symbol of the remarkable endurance and perseverance of the Russian people.
Today, the entire Cathedral complex looms over Red Square, Moscow, Russia. Tourists flock to view this architectural wonder of the world, to visit the museum, and attend church services.
One of 16 UNESCO Sites in Russia
In 1990, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization recognized Saint Basil’s Cathedral as a World Heritage site, to be preserved for all mankind to enjoy.
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