St Basil’s Cathedral
One of Moscow’s, and indeed Russia’s most iconic and lasting images (and tourist hotspots), the confused and riotous profusion of colour, shapes and onion domes that top St Basil’s dominates Red Square. In 1552 Ivan the Terrible commissioned the Cathedral to commemorate a victory over the Mongols, and legend dictates that, astounded by its beauty on completion, he had the unfortunate architect blinded so he would never be able to design anything comparable.
The church, officially called the Cathedral of the Intercession, consists of nine chapels, all of which are unique in style. It has adopted the nickname ‘St Basil’s’ after the ‘Holy Fool’ St Vasily (Basil) the Blessed, who was much-loved by the people of Moscow and whose bones lie in the Chapel of his name.
The interior is less spectacular, with maze-like corridors and dark, candlelit chapels, but the iconostasis is quite beautiful and some of the icons date back to the 16th century. Although it’s always endowed with some form of scaffolding or another, it is still worth a visit.