St. Basil’s Cathedral, 2




elevate represent construction
Tsar triumph build/built/built
faith celebrate know/knew/known
roof empire surrounds
domes element supernatural
gallery complex connect (2)
unique echo (2) feature (2)
bright ambitious intercession
Eden passages at the time
heart theorist resurrection
plan connect attributed
search paradise wonder (2)
create compare architecture
crown imagine traditional
reign medieval representations
similar incredible Jerusalem
chapel fantastic ornamentation
gilded infinite ornamentation
close against spiritually
equal influenced
motif materialized







At the time of its construction in 1555, it was not yet known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral. After his victory in Kazan against the Tatars, Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia, built this cathedral.

It was formed of several chapels to celebrate the triumph of Orthodox faith against Islam, and the unification of Russia into a huge empire.

The colored domes crown each of the eight chapels, symbolizing the eight battles that led to victory against the Tatars.

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A complex connected by galleries surrounds the central church, surmounted by an octagonal roof — the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin.

At the top, its golden dome echoes those of other churches in Moscow, whose multiple domes shine like flames — one that illuminates the churches, one that represents faith, and one the resurrection of Christ.

Saint Basil’s geometric patterns, with their bright colors and unique Orthodox architecture, have astounded throughout history. But for Irina Alexievna Tchougreieva, who works for the conservation of this priceless heritage, they have a real meaning.

They symbolize Heavenly Jerusalem, paradise on earth.

Irina Alexeievna Tchougreieva, Conservator: “It’s like a fantastical city; several chapels form a circle between them, making us think of the image of the holy city or of the sky, from where incredible colors emerge.

All the elements that make it up are a kind of infinite ornamentation — a gilded vine that flourished and gave life to supernatural flowers. It must elevate us spiritually and bring us closer to a form of beauty that has no equal on earth.”

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At the heart of the cathedral are the motifs of the Garden of Eden, in the many passages that connect the shrines to each other. The various chapels of Saint Basil’s complex were built in only six years, an incredible speed for the time.

They are attributed to a Russian architect, Posnek Yakovlev, but there is still doubt as to the real identity of their creator.

Andre Batalov, director of Kremlin Museums: “Some compare the cathedral with Indian palaces; some still today search for shared Islamic architectural features.”

For the architect Andre Batalov, Director of Kremlin Museums, the architecture of Saint Basil was perhaps influenced by the wonders of the Renaissance in Europe.

Andre Batalov, director of Kremlin Museums: “Many representations similar to the plans of this cathedral can be found in Renaissance architectural treatises.

Of course, we cannot forget the many church drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. It is one of the only churches in the world that materialized the most ambitious ideas of the theorists of the Italian Renaissance.

One can then imagine how new it was for Moscow, where traditional medieval Russian architecture reigned at that time.”

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St. Basil’s Cathedral. The St. Basil’s Cathedral was built to commemorate Russia’s triumph over the Swedes and Poles. True or false?

The Winter Palace. Describe the cathedral’s exterior. Is it monochrome (mono-colored)?

Hagia Sofia. Does St. Basil’s Cathedral consist of a single, large chapel?

Houses of Parliament. Does the architecture of Russian cathedrals resemble those in England and France?

Pyramids of Giza. Does St. Basil’s Cathedral represent Moscow and Russia?

Notre Dame Cathedral. What is inside the cathedral? Describe the interior.

Pyramid of the Sun. Was St. Basil’s Cathedral purely Russian in design?
Machu Picchu. I have visited Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow. Yes or no? Have your friends visited the St. Basil’s Cathedral?

Taj Mahal. What famous buildings and monuments have you been to or visited? I have been to . . . .

The Great Wall. The St. Basil’s Cathedral is the most beautiful building in the world. What do you think?

Acropolis, Parthenon. What buildings or monuments would you like to visit? I would like to visit . . . .

Leaning Tower of Pisa. What might happen in the future?

Angkor Wat. Should people elsewhere construct replicas or reproduce the St. Basil’s Cathedral?

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