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Saint Basils cathedral was commissioned in 1555 by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan form the Tartars in 1552. The cathedral’s official name is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin, which also represents the date that Kazan was overtaken; October 1st, the Orthodox feast of the Intercession of the Virgin.

The original Russian builders are thought to be two Russian architects Barma and Postnik, although this is disputed by some since there are no official records indicating exactly who build and designed the cathedral. Overtime, eight side chapels were built around the building to “illustrate the eight attempts to take Kazan” (Berton, 42). The architects insisted that for the sake of balance, a 9th chapel be built as well. A final tenth chapel was erected in 1588 over the grave of saint Vasily Basil.

The building’s design is supposed to signify flames rising into the sky. The architectural design of the cathedral is unique to the Russian designs of the area in which it was built. Sources of its architectural style are disputed. Some think the structure of the cathedral’s roots come from Byzantine and Asian influences while others believe that they blend early Muscovite elements along with the influence of the Italian Renaissance.


(Accessed on 22 May 2012)

Berton, K. (1977). Moscow: An architectural history. New York: St. Martin’s Press. (Accessed on 29 May 2012)


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Creator 1 Role


Creator 2 Role


Creator 3 Role


Recommended Citation

Chester E. Smolski photographic slides and publications, MSS-0041, Special Collections, James P. Adams Library, Rhode Island College.


Church, Russian churches, city churches, Moscow, St. Basils, cathedral, Ivan the Terrible