Temple of St. Vasili
Pokrovsky Cathedral which is better known as the Cathedral of St. Vasili is Orthodox church, an architectural monument which is one of the most famous symbols of Moscow and the whole Russia.
The temple was founded in 1552, upon the decree of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, in honor of the capture of the Kazan Khanate. The Temple was consecrated in honor of the Holy Trinity. In 1554 on its place Ivan the Terrible ordered to build the Cathedral of the Protection of the Virgin with the chapels which would commemorate the victory over the Tartars. People called the new temple the Protection of the Ditch, since the cathedral was built near a deep ditch which was along the eastern wall of the Kremlin.
Two Russian architects, Postnik and Barma, are believed to build the temple. According to legend, having seen the Cathedral, Ivan the Terrible was so impressed by its beauty that ordered to blind the architects, for them not to be able to build another temple, which would be equal to the beauty of Pokrovsky Cathedral.
Later one of the most revered holy fool in Russia, St. Vasili, was buried in one of the limits in the temple. The legend tells that he was collecting money for the future Pokrovsky temple, and threw coins over his right shoulder in Red Square. Nobody, even thieves did not dare touch this money. And in August 1552 before his death, he gave the collected money to Ivan the Terrible, who ordered to build a temple on the site.
St. Vasili's Cathedral is a balanced ensemble of eight column churches which surround the ninth one, the highest temple that is topped with a marquee. Each of the eight churches was named in honor of the saint on whose day Kazan campaigns of Ivan the Terrible brought something remarkable. The central church is dedicated to the Protection of the Mother of God. This day Kazan was taken by storm. Column church are decorated with onion domes. Each of them is unique; none of them repeats the others. Each dome is decorated with cornices, innovative features, windows, niches.
According to a legend, Napoleon wanted to move this miracle of architecture to Paris, but the technique of that time was unable to cope with that task. Then French emperor ordered his army to blow up the temple, together with the Kremlin, before the retreat. Muscovites tried in vain to extinguish the burning fuses, but the providence intervened: suddenly the rain poured down. It helped to stop the explosion.
In the mid 20-ies of the 20th century St. Vasili's Cathedral got the status of the museum, and in 1934 it became to be considered the State Historical Museum’s subsidiary. There are 9 iconostasis, which include about 400 icons of XVI-XIX centuries which represent the best examples of Novgorod and Moscow icon painting in the museum temple. In addition to the icons there are portraits and landscape painting, and ornament in the cathedral. Its walls are decorated with frescoes. Among the most valuable exhibits one must mention the chalice (liturgical vessel for the consecration of the wine) of the 17th century, which belonged to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. An interesting collection of bells made in Russia, Belarus, Holland, France and Germany, as well as weapons of Ivan the Terrible’s times are represented in St. Vasili's Cathedral. The collection is included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Russia.