On the Red Square there is one of the main sights of Moscow and Russia, the Pokrovsky Cathedral, popularly known as the Saint Basil Cathedral. It became worldwide renowned for its unique architecture and design. The history of its construction is related with the events of the middle 16th century, when the army of Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan, formerly ruled by the Golden Horde.
Construction of this wonderful church lasted from 1555 to 1561. It was constructed to commemorate the capture of the Kazan Khanate. The name of the architect who built the Pokrovsky Cathedral is unknown to this day, but there are several versions. First two versions are related with the master Yakovlev Postnik, nicknamed Barma, and the second one says that Barma and Postnik were two different people who jointly built the cathedral. The third version says that the Pokrovsky Cathedral was erected by an architect from Western Europe. This version explains the mixing of traditional Russian architecture with European architectural style of the Renaissance.
Before the 17th century, the Pokrovsky Cathedral, which was also called the Trinity Cathedral, had the third name as the Jerusalem. All of this was connected with the initiation of the cathedral and church services that were held there.
Domes of the cathedral take special place in the architecture. According to some facts, the St. Basil's Cathedral originally had 25 domes, symbolizing God and 24 Elders surrounding His throne. Today, the church has nine domes of different colors, and one more, mounted above the bell tower. Initially domes were gilded, and in the 17th century, after construction of various additional buildings, domes were covered with decorative painting. By the way, original color of the Cathedral walls was white.
In 1737 the Saint Basil's Cathedral suffered from a heavy fire. Later it was restored and received its current color. Later, in 1812, during the Napoleon's invasion the church was nearly destroyed: bombs were extinguished by sudden downpour.
In the 20th century, during the Soviet Union power, Bolsheviks nearly demolished the Cathedral, though they executed the head priest and re-melted the bells. Later, in 1936 the eminent political figure of Soviet Union Lazar Kaganovich again offered to demolish this cathedral, but Stalin denied him. According to some facts, Lazar Kaganovich brought to Stalin the model of the Red Square with removable St. Basil’s Cathedral. He wanted to show how the Red Square would look without the cathedral. But Stalin looked at it and said “Lazar! Put it back!”
After dissolution of the USSR the Pokrovsky Cathedral commenced divine worships on 14 October, 1991, on the feast of the Protection. Step-by-step the cathedral collected bells from all over the world and today it has 19 bells, melted in Russia, Byelorussia, France, Holland and Germany.
Today this great 65-meters-high church enters the UNESCO World Heritage List and attracts thousands visitors of the Red Square from all over the world every year. In addition, the Saint Basil Cathedral is the main Orthodox church in Russia and is used for divine services by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. And whenever you visit the Red Square you would not resist having a picture against the background of the Pokrovsky Cathedral.