St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, located in Red Square, is definitely a must-go visit in the Russian capital. The entrance costs 500 rubles (it’s free for children up to 16 years old).
Updated on October 15, 2017 (written on July 14, 2016)
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St. Basil’s Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the moat) is an Orthodox church on the Red Square in Moscow and constitutes the symbol or icon of the city.
You definitely must visit both its interior and exterior as its architectural style is unique. It was declared in 1990 a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the entire Kremlin.
Keep in mind that St. Basil’s Cathedral is not the main cathedral in Moscow, nor is the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, since in both cases this honor belongs to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Many people confuse this cathedral with the Moscow Kremlin, since they are situated next to each other, but the truth is that they are not absolutely related. The visit to this cathedral is often complemented with other tourist attractions also located in the Red Square and the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum or GUM department store.
- Official website: http://shm.ru/museum/hvb/
1. About St. Basil’s Cathedral
According to legend, the czar blinded Postnik Yakovlev, the architect of this cathedral, so he could not build a church that was better than this one, though it is known that this is not true since Yakovlev also participated in the construction of the Kremlin of Kazan some years after.
Throughout its history (in 2016 it will be 455 years old), the cathedral has been in danger of disappearing on more than one occasion, surviving fires, Napoleon’s invasion and even a demolition plan by Stalin collaborators , who considered that the cathedral hindered military parades in Red Square.
Outside the cathedral you can see its beautiful domes, all different, which highlight a its striking colorful and rounded shapes. In front of the church, in a garden, a bronze statue stands in honor of Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who gathered volunteers for the army that fought against the Polish invaders during the Time of the Riots (between 1598 and 1613).
On its interior, being smaller than other cathedrals, you can visit its nine chapels (where you will find chorus groups) and its high belfry.
- From June 1st to August 24th: from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Wednesday – closed)
- From August 25 to September 3: from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Wednesday – closed)
- From September 4 to November 5: from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (open every day)
- From 6 November to 30 April: from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (open every day)
- From May 1st to May 31st: from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (open every day)
- Closes the first Wednesday of each month for cleaning.
- The ticket office closes 45 minutes before closing time.
3. Purchasing tickets and pricing
Tickets are purchased at the cathedral itself. Also they can be purchased online: http://tickets.shm.ru/. While in high season you need to get in line to purchase tickets, this usually progresses quickly so you don’t need to worry about waiting time.
The entrance ticket is fairly inexpensive, costing 500 rubles for both Russian and foreign citizens.
Children and teenagers up to 16 years can enter for free. There are also reduced tickets for certain groups.
- Detailed Rates (in Russian): http://shm.ru/visit/tickets/hvb/
4. Cathedral Rules
Finally, it is worth noting the rules for access to the cathedral:
- You can’t touch the windows, nor any exhibit objects and decoration.
- You can take pictures or videos for free without flash and without tripod. However, in temporary exhibitions, both photos and videos are prohibited.
- Due to the characteristics of the cathedral, where the accesses are by stairs, children and disabled carts are prohibited.
- Don’t leave small children unattended because it is easy for them to get lost inside the cathedral
- Bags and backpacks whose size exceeds 30 × 40 cm and umbrellas, must be left in the designated storing areas.
- When the temperature is below -15 degrees, schedules can be reduced.
Have you visited the Cathedral of St. Basil? What were your impressions?