Friday, April 4, 2008
The Windows of St. Basil's Cathedral
This is what St. Basil's Cathedral looks like from afar... That's a picture that most people who have visited Moscow end up bringing home, and rightly so. It gives you a perspective of the cathedral's location on Red Square (at the far end of it, flanked by the GUM department store and the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin). You also get a sense of just how huge Red Square is--and how the Cathedral dominates it, drawing your eyes to the far end, teasing you with those multi-colored domes. Close-up, though, the rich colors and textures--each brick, each piece of golden lacework, each tile--pop right off the page (or computer screen).
I love how in this picture, and in others I included among the photos below, the golden cross of an unseen dome appears floating in the sky between the domes you do see.
Until I took these photos, I hadn't truly appreciated the genius of its architect, Postnik Yakovlev. Ivan the Terrible commissioned the cathedral and it was built between 1555 and 1561 to commemorate the capture of Khanate of Kazan. In 1588 Tsar Fedor Ivanovich had a chapel added on the eastern side above the grave of Basil Fool for Christ, a Russian Orthodox saint after whom the cathedral was popularly named. An often cited, but false, legend has it that upon completion of the cathedral, Ivan the Terrible had Yakovlev blinded--so that he could never build anything as beautiful anywhere else.