Ivan the Terrible, the first Russian tsar, ruled the country in XVI century. It was long ago, yet in present-day Moscow we can find a lot of landmarks associated with his reign. These are a few of them.
St Basil’s Cathedral.
This famous sacred building was built by the order of Ivan the Terrible as his votive church to celebrate a major victory over the nomads from the East, who devastated Russian lands for centuries. The main battle took place on the day of celebrating the religious holiday of Intercession of Our Lady. The Cathedral commemorated this triumphant moment of victory and was consecrated to the Intercession. Hence the first and the official name of the cathedral is the Cathedral of “Intercession on the moats”. The Cathedral is representative of Moscow’s architecture with red brick walls and accumulation of onion-shape cupolas. 8 cupolas according to the number of victories surround the central pillar. The cathedral was completed in 1561.
But why do we know this Cathedral by the name of St Basil? There lived a man in Moscow whose name was Basil, he was a visionary or prophet. In Russia such people were highly respected and called “fool for Christ sake” because they pretended insane to be able to say the truth about people’s sins. Even the terrible tsar Ivan IV did not dare to argue. After his death he was buried near the place where the Cathedral appeared later. He was so worshiped that the tsar and the Archbishop appeared to pay the last tribute to him and ordered to put a small chapel over his grave. Later when the Cathedral was built, the chapel of St Basil became part of it and it so happened that the small chapel gave the second and more popular name to the Cathedral.
The old English Court
Varvarka street is an open-air museum of Russian architecture with medieval churches lined along the street. Among them there stands an old English Court where the first English embassy was opened back in XVI century. In the middle of XVI century English merchants in their attempt to find Northern route to India suddenly (and not surprisingly) found themselves somewhere near the Northern Russian town of Archangelsk. There the epic trip to Moscow started for them. As a result Ivan the Terrible (not so Terrible in this particular case) signed trade agreement with England and granted significant privileges to English merchants. The relationship between two countries were very prosperous until the English decapitated king Charles I. The embassy was expelled from Russia for a while.
The Kremlin of Moscow
The three cathedrals located in the heart of Moscow represent the credo of Ivan the Terrible as the first Russian tsar. The Tsar’s place in the Cathedral of Dormition tells us the story how the Monomakh hat got from Byzantine emperors to the tsars of Moscow and became the main crown of the Russian sovereigns. The medieval murals in the Annunciation Cathedral show that the Moscow royal family descended from Old Testament Jesse and his son King David. And Archangel Michael Cathedral witnessed the fall of the dynasty and holds the burial place of Ivan the Terrible and his sons. And finally, the Armory Chamber, or the royal treasury, displays personal and family items of Ivan IV, like his ivory throne, measure icon of his elder son, his gold and sapphire Bible binding and the wedding present he made to one of his 7 wives.