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Saint Basil's Cathedral is the most recognizable symbol of Russia. Its colorful onion domes are instantly recognizable around the world as emblems of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. The church is actually the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God, known as "Theotokos" or "Bogoroditsa" in the Orthodox Church. But most know it as Saint Basil's Cathedral, named after the man who roamed the streets of Moscow trying to win converts during the reign of Ivan the Terrible (Tzar Ivan IV or Ivan Grozny). In spite of the brutal Russian winters and unforgiving summers, he many times he conducted his crusade naked. It is the domes that make this, and other Russian Orthodox architecture unique. Saint Basil's has a total of ten towers sporting domes. The largest is at the center of the cathedral known as the Church of the Feast of the Pokhrov. There are four more, each topping a church located on an cardinal point, north, south, east, and west. Then an additional four at the northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest points. Each of these eight churches represent an important historical event in Russian history. Then there is one that does not stand on a rose point. It was built in 1555 and is located over the grave of Saint Basil. It became part of the Cathedral in 1588. The cathedral may have been designed by Russian architects Posnik and Barma. But the early records are confusing, and they may be a single person. There is also a legend that the cathedral was designed by an Italian architect who was blinded so he could never create a more beautiful building. The root of this legend may lie in the fact that between 1475 and 1510 Italian architects were employed to restore the Kremlin and two of its churches. In some ways, it is amazing that the cathedral has survived as long as it has. Two of the world's most ruthless leaders -- Napoleon and Stalin -- tried to destroy it. Napoleon tried to burn it down with little success. Stalin wanted to have it razed so his military parades would have more room. Another Moscow legend has it that the demolition was stopped by an architect who threatened to slit his own throat on the cathedral steps in protest.

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Additional Photos by Vivek Pratap Singh Sisodia (Dragonheart) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 541 W: 53 N: 755] (8434)
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