January 12, 2013

0128, 0462 RUSSIA (Moscow) - Saint Basil's Cathedral - part of Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow (UNESCO WHS)

0128 Saint Basil's Cathedral in nowadays

Posted on 20.02.2012, 12.01.2013
Followed the example of Vasili III, his father, Ivan IV, the first Tsar of Russia, known to posterity as Ivan the Terrible, has built several churches with oriental features after the conquest of Kazan (1552), most famously being Saint Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow (in the pictures). Erected between 1555 and 1561, the Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat marks the geometric centre of the city and the hub of its growth since the 14th century. It was the tallest building in Moscow until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600.

0462 Saint Basil's Cathedral in 1890

The original building, known as Trinity Church, contained 8 side churches arranged around the 9th, central church of Intercession; the 10th church was erected in 1588 over the grave of venerated local saint Basil Fool for Christ. After every victory of the Russo-Kazan War, Ivan IV erected a wooden church next to the walls of Trinity Church, so at the end of his Astrakhan campaign it was shrouded within a cluster of 7 churches. In 1554 he ordered also the construction of the Church of Intercession on the same site, and one year later began the construction of a new stone cathedral on the site.

The Trinity Church mark the centre of a marketplace located between the St. Frol's Gate of the Kremlin and the outlying posad. The identity of the architects is unknown, but tradition held that it was built by Barma and Postnik. Researchers proposed that both names refer to the same person, Postnik Yakovlev. The sources that inspired the architects include the Qolsharif Mosque (destroyed by Russian after the siege of Kazan), the Italian and German Renaissance, Byzantine and Asian architecture, and even the vernacular wooden churches of the Russian North.

The onion shape of the domes was adopted from Islamic architecture for its aesthetic qualities, but also for the aditional advantage of throwing the snow. It also resembles the shape of the helmets worn at that time by Russian soldiers, which gives it an additional significance. The floor plan is symmetrical, with 8 side churches around the core. The central one and the four larger placed on compass points are octagonal, and the 4 diagonally placed are cuboid, although their shape is barely visible through later additions.

Although the side churches are arranged in perfect symmetry, the cathedral as a whole isn’t. So viewing from north and south presents a complex multi-axial shape (as in my postcard, in which the cathedral is seen from the Red Square) while the western facade, facing the Kremlin, appears symmetrical and monolithic. The church acquired its present-day vivid colours in several stages from the 1680s to 1848, in the 16th century being probably white, with some red, green and blue ceramic inserts, and the domes golden.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the church, perceived as the earthly symbol of the Heavenly City, was popularly known as the "Jerusalem" and served as an allegory of the Jerusalem Temple in the annual Palm Sunday parade attended by the Patriarch of Moscow and the tsar. The original Trinity Church burnt down in 1583 and was refit in 1593, then again in 1680-1683. In 1737 it was damaged by a fire and later restored by Ivan Michurin (1761-1784). It was spared by the Fire of Moscow, started by Napoleon's troops who occupied city in 1812, but the french has looted it and used it for stables.

Preservationist societies monitored the state of the church and called for a proper restoration throughout the 1880s and 1890s, but it was regularly delayed for lack of funds. Finally, the restoration began in 1896, headed by Andrey Pavlinov (died in 1898), and continued until 1909, led by Sergey Solovyov. In 1923 it became a public museum, but religious services continued until 1929. During the communist period was several times in danger of being demolished, but miraculously escaped. The building is still partly in use today as a museum but since 1991 is occasionally used for periodic services by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Saint Basil's Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site The Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow, about which I wrote here.  

About the stamps
On the postcard 0128
The first stamp is part of the series Monuments of science and technology, about which I wrote here.

The second stamp is part of the first set of the series The contemporary art of Russia, designed by A. Gribkova.

2011.09.12 (all with the same value - 14 RUB)
• The view of St. Boris and Gleb Monastery by Nikolai Borovskoy - 2001
Akin’shino Village by Vladimir Yukin - 1995
The Gymnasts of the USSR by Dmitry Zhilinsky - 1964-1965
The monument to Yuri Nikulin (before Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard) by Alexander Rukavishnikov - 2001 - It’s on the postcard 0128
The Portrait of Aidan by Tahir Salahov - 1967
The Seascape by Aleksey Adamov - 2007

2012.06.30 (all with the same value - 15 RUB)
• The monument to Feodor Chaliapin in Kazan by Andrey Balashov - 1999
• Cossack Seeing-Off. Stirrup Cup by Sergey Gavrilyachenko - 1999
• Mammoths, the sculptural composition by Andrey Kovalchuk - 2007 - It’s on the postcard 0695
• The Warm Day by Georgy Leman - 1996 - It’s on the postcard 2975
• Russian Madonna by Vasily Nesterenko - 2005
• Autumn. The Interior by Alexey Sukhovetsky - 1992 - it’s on the postcard 0592

2013.06.17 (all with the same value - 15 RUB)
Indian Summer. Early Morning by Dmitry Belyukin - 2003 - It's on the postcard 0846
Girl and the City by Anatoly Lyubavin - 2005
On the Trubezh River by Valery Polotnov - 2008 - It's on the postcard 0940

2013.10.25 (all with the same value - 15 RUB)
The Kerosene by Andey Bobykin - 2012
The Bouquet by Viktor Maly - 2005 - It’s on the postcard 0966
The monument to Alexander Pokryshkin in Novosibirsk by Mikhail Pereyaslavets - 2005

2014.12.12 (all with the same value - 15 RUB)
The Monument to Alexander Nevsky in Saint Petersburg by Aleksey Ignatov - 2013
Spring in Kolomenskoye by Ivan Krivshinko - 2002
The Lilac by Polina Mineeva - 2010
The Victory of Peresvet by Pavel Ryzhenko - 2005
Near Radonezh. The Vorya River by Aleksandr Sytov - 2005 - It’s on the postcard 2975
The Walls of the Pskov Kremlin by Sergey Troshin - 2011

2016.11.29 (all with the same value - 31 RUB)
Gold Balls of Stavropolie by Valery Arzumanov - 2012
Dawn. Chersonese by Nikolay Morgun - 2002
I Serve the Fatherland and the Spetsnaz by Yuri Orlov - 2002
The Monument to Alexander Suvorov on the Gotthard Pass, Switzerland by Dmitry Tugarinov - 1999

The third stamp is part of the definitive series about animals, about which I wrote here.

On the postcard 0462
The stamp depict Ryazan Kremlin (25R) and is part of the series Russian Kremlins, about which I wrote here.

Saint Basil's Cathedral - Wikipedia
Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow - UNESCO official website

Sender 0128: Yulia Makarkina (direct swap)
Sent from Zelenograd (Russia), on 29.11.2011
Photo: Valery Nekrasov
Sender 0462: TaPaKaH (postcrossing) RU-1052570
Sent from Moscow (Russia), on 24.06.2012

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