St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, is considered the exact center of the city's geometry and the symbol of its growth, with its unique and breathtaking structure reminiscent of "the flames of a bonfire rising to the sky". Heart of the Red Square, most important monument of the Russian Orthodox Church and perennial warning of Russian military power after Tsar Ivan the Terrible ordered its construction in 1552 to mark the capture of the Mongol forces by Kazan Khanate. Although the main cathedral is that of Christ the Savior, which also houses the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch, the Cathedral of San Basilio proudly represents Russian culture and the proud character of his people.
- Where is it and how to get there
- Hours and prices
- Tours, guided tours and tickets online
- What to see and how to visit the Cathedral of San Basilio
- Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
- User questions and comments
Where is it and how to get there
- On foot: for the lucky ones with a hotel nearby, the walk is a must in order not to miss the beauties offered by the city. For those who are further away we recommend the use of public transport; today the metro is the best way to get to the cathedral and the nearest stop is about an 8 minute walk - Get directions.
- By car: due to traffic, roads not in perfect condition and considerable difficulty in finding a parking space, getting around on four wheels is a real challenge even for the most experienced drivers; we do not recommend using it especially in winter as temperatures easily reach -25 °. For the bravest, the cathedral is about 15 minutes from the center, excluding traffic and various events with barriers in tow - Get directions.
- By metro: the most used public transport also for its beauty compared to an art museum; the nearest stop to the cathedral is approximately 8 minutes away (Ploshchad Revolutsii - fourth stop on the blue line). The metro remains in service from 5:30 am to 1:00 am, pay attention to the indications that are often not fully translated into English.
Hours and prices
- There are different opening hours depending on the period - from 1st June to 24th August from 10:00 to 19:00 (Wednesday closed), from 25 August to 3 September from 10:00 to 16:00 (Wednesday closed), from 4 September to 5 November from 11:00 to 18:00 (open every day), from 6 November to 30 April from 11:00 to 17:00 (open every day), from 1 May to 31 May from 11: 00 to 18:00 (open every day). Closes the first Wednesday of each month for cleaning. During the school holidays in Autumn, Winter and Spring, the opening hours are extended by 1 hour. Please note that the ticket office closes 45 minutes before closing time.
- Best time to avoid queues: one hour after opening, when the first queue of the day has been disposed of.
- € 7,00 approximately with audio guide. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the cathedral.
- Reductions: Reductions are available only for groups of several people.
- Free: Free entry for children under 16.
Tours, guided tours and tickets online
What to see and how to visit the Cathedral of San Basilio
St. Basil's Cathedral is a gigantic memorial monument which celebrates the victory of the Russian armies against the Mongolian Khazan Khanate: walls and vaults are rich in frescoes and oil paintings, with images of vegetation and saints. The whole cathedral is today a unique museum in the world in which to get lost, here are some of the beauties that you can admire during a visit.
- The multicolored domes:
From the outside it is possible to admire the magnificent 9 multicolored domes, the real character that distinguishes this architectural jewel, with the high bell tower, among which the most beautiful are: the Chapel of San Cipriano (with the dome with white and blue segments ), the Chapel of St. Nicholas (with red and white horizontal stripes), the Chapel of the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (the official entrance during the Palm Sunday procession), the Chapel of the Trinity (with bright green and yellow colors ), the Chapel of St. Varlaam by Khutjnskij (among the smaller structures).
- The Relics of Saint Basil:
Under an additional yellow-green chapel with orange pyramids, the relics of St. Basil, a contemporary of Ivan the Terrible, are preserved, accompanied by painted allegories of the saint's life. During a restoration, a magnificent spiral staircase was also discovered along with one of the walls.
- The Chapel of the Intercession:
The highest chapel of about 60 meters. it is topped by a golden pyramid roof, and is called the Intercession Chapel, with 4 huge windows that illuminate a th century Baroque iconostasis.
- The Gallery:
The gallery that connects the central chapel to the other 8 is a small masterpiece with a ceiling finely decorated with floral tiles from the late 1700s.
- The garden:
In the garden of the cathedral stands a bronze monument depicting two characters such as the Russian Prince Dimitrij Pozarskij who paved the way for the rise of the Romanov dynasty, and the butcher Kos'ma Minin who managed to form an army with his fellow citizens to defeat the Russian attack of 1612.
Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Buy the City Pass: It will be advantageous to take advantage of various discounts and preferential access to monuments, museums and events, including the Cathedral of San Basilio. At a cost of about € 49,00, with a voucher that will be used to collect the City Pass, you will have priority access to the Kremlin, the Tretyakov Gallery and St. Basil's Cathedral. 70% discount on various entries and a free SIM card to surf the internet for 1 hour. A 15% discount on transport and various restaurants. With the City Pass you will be given a guide in 4 languages, a city map and a plastic card. It is possible to buy it online or in the 2 City Expert points at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior or in Tryumfalnaya Square. The City Pass is valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and is activated upon first use.
- Watch out for restrictions: There are basic rules once you enter St. Basil's Cathedral: it is strictly forbidden to touch the windows and objects on display, you cannot use flash and tripod while taking pictures or videos, which are allowed but not when they are in be temporary exhibitions, it is impossible to access with strollers and wheelchairs due to the structure with many stairs, it is forbidden to leave small children unattended, bags and backpacks larger than 30x40 cm must be left in the storage service inside the cathedral, the access is limited when the temperature is below -15 °,
- Minimum time: St. Basil's Cathedral contains many works of art, so consider spending at least a couple of hours inside.
Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
Originally, the site on which St. Basil's Cathedral stands was a crucial trading area between the Spasskaja Tower and the posad, an external residential settlement. History tells us precisely that Tsar Ivan the Terrible, to celebrate his victory against the Mongol forces, wanted to erect a wooden church which in a few years was surrounded by 7 other wooden churches. The architect of the structure has always been anonymous, even if there have always been rumors of these Barma and Postnik as likely creators; just as we have always tried to link the design of the cathedral to previous works in history, never managing to prove its appeal with any architecture.
The masonry structure has internal wooden diaphragms that run along the height of the entire structure, confirming the historical presence of the first wooden structures commissioned by Ivan the terrible. Red bricks were then used inside and outside, trying to leave as much masonry as possible, with three-dimensional decorations and motifs. The vibrant colors that characterize the cathedral only reached their definitive identity between the end of the 1600s and the mid-1800s, with the domes covered in tin and gold, creating a vivid contrast with white and red, along with the blue and green ceramics.
The cathedral with its nine domes also wanted to represent a clear allegory to Jerusalem Temple, and hence its greatest historical importance. Over the centuries, St. Basil's Cathedral has undergone countless changes, restorations, fires, robberies, and even today, with the last restoration dated 2008, it is considered the most significant structure of Russian identity, with a troubled past and certainly a bright future.