Amazing Domes of “The Third Rome” Over the Clouds

Amazing Domes of “The Third Rome” Over the Clouds
«Amazing Domes of “The Third Rome” Over the Clouds»

The intricate forms and the bright multicolored paintings of the onion-shaped domes (cupolas) of the world-famous St. Basil’s cathedral at the Red Square says how beautiful the Heavenly Jerusalem.

The Intercession Cathedral on the Moat, which in the last couple of centuries became better known as St. Basil’s Cathedral, was built in 1555-1561 by Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible (1530-1584) to commemorate the conquest of the Kazan Khanate (ancient Tatar kingdom of Volga Bulgaria) by the first Tsar of All the Rus (Russia). The construction of Intercession Cathedral at Red Square became one of the steps in promoting an idea to build Moscow as “The Third Rome” (after Constantinople). This idea became popular since his grandfather, the Grand Duke (Prince) of Moscow Ivan III the Great (1440-1505) who had married Sophia (Zoë) Paleologue, a Byzantine princess and niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, the last Eastern Roman Emperor. The marriage was sponsored by the Vatican and Ivan could claim to be the heir of the fallen Byzantine empire.

The original helmet-style domes of the cathedral were replaced at the end with the figured cupolas, similar to what we see today, at the end of 16th century during the reign of Ivan’s son Feodor. Chronicles don’t mention any specific date. We only know that «in the days of the pious Tsar… Feodor Ivanovich.. the domes were made on the Trinity and Intercession on the Moat, different in form and covered with German iron, and because of that fire dome on these temples were gone». Specialists still disagree about the year of the fire in question. Some argued that it was 1595 when all of the Kitai-Gorod was burned down. They were painted in different bright colors representing the Heavenly Kingdom in the 1670s, during the reign of tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich (father of Peter the Great), when open-air belfry of the cathedral was changed to a tented roof bell tower.

Photo #021 taken on April 22, 2015 during tour of Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral with my Dear clients from Philippines, John Blando and his daughters, Julia and Bernie.


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Arthur Lookyanov

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