Nobody goes to Russia without looking at the Red Square in entirety. Having looked at the North of the square with the State Historical Museum, the (West?) where Lenin’s Mausoleum stands, let’s now look at the South of the Red Square.
South of the Red Square, one sees a very more colourful and vibrant scene, signified by none other than St Basil’s Cathedral. St Basil’s Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox Church (it has a much longer name – Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat) and marks the centre of Moscow. The Cathedral was erected in 1550s as ordered by Ivan the Terrible and interestingly, was the origin of “Red” Square’s name. The Russian word красно could be translated into English as red, or beautiful. The Cathedral, with its dazzling colours and unique architecture that was unparalleled in its years, was a beautiful addition to the state. The meaning of красно was shifted across time to mean “Red”, describing both ideology and the vast amount of red brickworks around the Square.
A statue stands in front of St Basil’s cathedral – looking oddly out of place, but not reducing the appeal factor of the Cathedral. Maybe it’s the colours, or just its unique architecture that makes the Cathedral nothing like the surroundings, that one will be instantly captivated by its magnificence. Anyway, the statue dates back to 1818 and is known as the Monument to Minin & Pozharsky. Minin (standing) and Pozharsky (seated) had in 1612 contributed to the end of the Time of Troubles by driving Polish invaders out of Moscow. This statue stood originally in the middle of the Red Square as decided by Tsar Alexander I. However, with a regime change, the new government chose to use the Square for parades that demonstrated their military prowess, hence the statue was moved to where it stands today. Another interesting piece of history (I hope I remember correctly) – As many buildings were ordered to be restructured or removed, St Basil’s Cathedral was no exception, but with much protests that included even Stalin’s resistance to the destruction of the Cathedral, we can now see this amazing architecture as it is today.
In my next post – we finally move towards the East of the Red Square…