Moscow Cathedrals and Churches

Named the city of sixteen hundred churches for more than four hundred years, Moscow was for all intents and purposes the Christian Orthodox religious centre. The Russian capital has a vast and varied repertoire of religious architecture, arguably more than any other metropolitan city.

Many Russian and foreign architects exercised their skill and efforts to build the wonderful cathedrals and churches around Moscow. The most popular and worth of mention are the eccentric St. Basil's Cathedral in the Red Square, the imposing Christ the Saviour Cathedral on the bank of the Moscow river and the charming Church of the Ascension, a UNESCO world heritage site in Kolomenskoye Estate. In addition, there are many other medieval wooden churches around the city and the golden onion-domed postcard favourites in the Kremlin.

The most famous in Moscow is no doubt St. Basil’s Cathedral located in the Red Square and built in the geometric centre of Moscow. This unique structure is striking in its beauty and vivid colours, with no analogues in Russian architecture. St. Basil’s Cathedral was built in 1554 by the order of Ivan IV named "The Terrible", to commemorate the capture of the Kazan capital of the Khanate of Kazan and the last stronghold of Tatar-Mongolian invaders.  According to legend, the architect was blinded after its completion in order not to replicate such a beauty elsewhere! It is unsurprisingly a UNESCO world heritage site.

The original Christ the Saviour Church, which was built to commemorate the victory over Napoleon’s army, took forty years to be completed. The church was destroyed by the order of Josef Stalin who wanted to build the "Palace of Soviets" on this site but a lack of funds, problems with its foundations and the outbreak of war left the area a construction site. For a while the empty foundations were utilised as the world’s largest outdoor pool but eventually, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the mayor of Moscow ordered the building of a perfect replica of the original Christ the Saviour Cathedral. It was completed in 2000 at a cost of $360 million and is still to this day a striking symbol of Moscow’s post-Soviet revival.