July 12: Cathedral of Candyland

2016/07/12 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1561 Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat was consecrated.

You probably know it as St. Basil’s Cathedral.  It was built at the order of Ivan the Terrible, who was smart and artsy but man that guy had a temper.  It’s a weird thing: a strong symbol of Russia generally and Moscow specifically (it stands at the city’s geographic center) but a completely unique building–it has neither precedent nor progeny.  It suggests something of the vernacular wooden traditions of Russia, something of Byzantine form and color, but isn’t really indebted to either.  Even the details of its craftsmanship–usually the smoking gun of mystery buildings–are silent.  It’s a cacophony of shapes and colors, but the plan is rigorously symmetrical and organized around the compass points and dedications to specific saints and liturgical  needs.  It’s a gigantic pile but the interiors are relatively cramped.

What is this thing doing in Moscow, or anywhere, save, perhaps, Disneyland or a sweets-themed board game?  Is it a church, sculpture, monumental carnival ride, or model for a birthday cake?  Ivan’s Terrible joke on architecture?  Or in the excellent description of Marquis de Custine, “A sort of irregular fruit bristling with excrescences, a cantaloupe melon with embroidered edges.”  This one asks more questions than it answers, and we have to leave it at that.

Image: the Cathedral

Advertisements

Tagged: , ,

Clio loves comments! Please leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading July 12: Cathedral of Candyland at Clio’s Calendar: Daily Musings on Architectural History.

meta

%d bloggers like this: