St. Basil’s

St. Basil’s marks the geometric center of Moscow. It has been the hub of the city’s growth since the 14th century and was the city’s tallest building until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600

Saint Basil’s Cathedral as viewed from Red Square.Instead of literally following the original ad hoc layout (seven churches around the central core), Ivan’s architects opted for a symmetrical floor plan with eight side churches around the core, producing “a thoroughly coherent, logical plan” despite the erroneous latter “notion of a structure devoid of restraint or reason”influenced by the memory of Ivan’s irrational atrocities.The central core and the four larger churches placed on compass points are octagonal; the four diagonally placed smaller churches are cuboid, although their shape is barely visible through later additions. The larger churches firmly stand on their massive foundations, while the smaller ones were placed on a raised platform, as if hovering above ground.

The site of the church has been, historically, a busy marketplace between the St. Frol’s (later Saviour’s) Gate of the Moscow Kremlin and the outlying posad. The centre of the marketplace was marked by the Trinity Church, built of the same white stone as the Kremlin of Dmitry Donskoy (1366–68) and its cathedrals. Tsar Ivan IV marked every victory of the Russo-Kazan War by erecting a wooden memorial church next to the walls of Trinity Church; by the end of his Astrakhan campaign it was literally shrouded within a cluster of seven wooden churches. According to the sketchy report in Nikon’s Chronicle, in the autumn of 1554 Ivan ordered construction of a wooden Church of Intercession on the same site, “on the moat”. One year later Ivan ordered construction of a new stone cathedral on the site of Trinity Church that would commemorate his campaigns. Dedication of a church to a military victory was “a major innovation for Muscovy. The placement of the church outside of the Kremlin walls was a political statement in favour of posad commoners and against hereditary boyars.

Although the side churches are arranged in perfect symmetry, the cathedral as a whole is not. The larger central church was deliberately offset to the west from the geometric center of the side churches, to accommodate its larger apse on the eastern side. As a result of this subtle calculated asymmetry viewing from north and south presents a complex multi-axial shape while the western facade, facing the Kremlin, appears properly symmetrical and monolithic. The latter perception is reinforced by the fortress-style machicolation and corbeled cornice of the western church of Entry into Jerusalem, mirroring the real fortifications of the Kremlin.

Inside the Church the walls are filled with Icons see below

The first ornamental murals in the cathedral appeared in the same period, starting with floral ornaments inside the new galleries; the towers retained their original brickwork pattern. Finally, in 1683 the church was adorned with a tiled cornice, in yellow and blue colours, featuring a written history of the church in Old Slavic typeface.

Murals in the galleries The second, and most significant, round of refit and expansion took place in 1680–83. The nine churches themselves retained their appearance, but additions to the ground-floor arcade and the first-floor platform were so profound that Nikolay Brunov considered the rebuilt composite church a “new” building and an independent work that incorporated the “old” Trinity Church. What once was a group of nine independent churches on a common platform became a monolithic temple.

Inside the composite church is a labyrinth of narrow vaulted corridors and vertical cylinders of the churches. The largest, central church of the Intercession is 46 meters tall internally but has a floor area of only 64 square meters. Nevertheless, it is wider and airier than the church in Kolomenskoye with its exceptionally thick walls.The corridors functioned as internal parvises; the western corridor, adorned with a unique flat caissoned ceiling, doubled as the narthex.

The church acquired its present-day vivid colors in several stages from the 1680s to 1848. Russians’ attitude to color in the 17th century changed in favor of bright colors; icon and mural art experienced an explosive growth in the number of available paints, dyes and their combinations. The original color scheme, missing these innovations, was far less challenging. It followed the depiction of the Heavenly City in the Book of Revelation: