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To Do in Moscow Traveling in Russia

Christ the Savior ‒ the Largest Church in Moscow

If you’re living in Moscow or even if you’re only passing by, you can’t miss this enormous cathedral in the very heart of the city! The Cathedral of the Christ the Savior is shining from afar thanks to its white walls and golden cupolas. The Christ the Savior overlooks the Russian federal capital from its 103m high, that makes it the 2nd highest Orthodox church in the world. Seat of the Russian orthodox patriarchate, Christ the Savior is currently the center of Moscow’s religious life. But it has not always been as it!

Picture: Cathedral of the Christ The Savior in Winter
Cathedral of the Christ The Savior in Winter

Indeed the biggest cathedral of the Russian Federation has been built in 1839, then destroyed but rebuilt in 1995. The first cathedral has been built from 1839 to celebrate the end of the Napoleonic wars and remember the numerous Russian deads. However, the Soviet leadership decided to destroy the cathedral in 1931, replacing it by a public swimming pool: the world biggest open-air swimming pool! Despite the popular desire of keeping the swimming pool, the Christ the Savior Cathedral has been rebuilt between 1995 and 2000, and given back to the Russian orthodox patriarchate.

Picture: Inside the Cathedral of the Christ The Savior
Inside the Cathedral of the Christ The Savior

Nowadays, the Christ the Savior remains a stunning cathedral on the inside as on the outside. However, if major orthodox events are celebrated in it, Christ the Savior knows less enthusiasm from the everyday believers than other Muscovite churches.

Picture: The Cathedral of the Christ The Savior on a Sunny Day
The Cathedral of the Christ The Savior on a Sunny Day

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To Do in Moscow Traveling in Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral ‒ All You Need to Know

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, is for sure one of the most symbolic buildings of Moscow and even Russia. This Orthodox church, nowadays a museum, is also the symbol of the traditional Russian architectural style, which explains why it has been a model for the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood built three centuries later in Saint Petersburg. Saint Basil’s has indeed been erected in 1561 under Ivan the Terrible’s command after he vanquished the Tatars of Kazan for good in 1552. For the first time in Muscovy, a church was dedicated to a military victory, with the completion of 8 chapels surrounding the main church, one for each battle won by Ivan IV against the Tatars, and each one crowned by a unique and magnificent cupola.

Picture: View on Saint Basil's Cathedral and Spasskaya Tower, known as 'Saviour Tower', from the Red Square along the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin.
View on Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Spasskaya Tower, known as ‘Saviour Tower’, from the Red Square along the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin.

Often compared to a giant cake because of its colors and peculiar domes and cupolas, Saint Basil’s Cathedral remains Moscow’s symbol and one of its most beautiful building. Everytime I stay in Moscow, I need to see it again, and from time to time I treat myself with a visit of this masterpiece. This majesty led to widespread legend telling that the Tsars bursted the architect’s eyes to prevent him from creating more beautiful buildings in the future!

Picture: Religious paintings, known as icons, inside Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
Religious paintings, known as icons, inside Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

If it kept safe the Tsar’s treasures some centuries ago, it is now Moscow’s treasure itself. After having been damaged by several fires and by lack of restoration during the first decades of the Soviet Union, Saint Basil’s currently is a bright and colorful spot on the Red Square. 

Picture: The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky located on the Red Square in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky located on the Red Square in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

Because of these colors, this peculiar architecture, its symbolism, its secrets and its history, Saint Basil’s Cathedral always caught me out of breath when seeing it by entering the Red Square from the north. I’m always amazed by its beauty and always feel overwhelmed by the rich history of Russia when admiring it! What about you? How do you feel when you look at Saint Basil’s? Maybe it’s time to discover it when having a walk Moscow’s city center.

Picture: Winter view on Saint Basil's Cathedral and 'Saviour Tower', from Zaradye Park in Moscow.
Winter view on Saint Basil’s Cathedral and ‘Saviour Tower’, from Zaradye Park in Moscow.

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