Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Red Square

Red Square (red being an old word for beautiful), in the center of Moscow. First mentioned in the 15th-century chronicles as the Great Marketplace and main trading center of town. It served as everything from a public gathering place for festivals and markets to a place of execution. It is bounded by the Kremlin walls (photo immediately below), St. Basil's Cathedral (last three photos below), the Lenin Mausoleum, the Historical Museum (second photo below), and the GUM Department store.

Erected by Ivan the Terrible from 1555-1561 to commemorate the annexation to Russia of the Mongol states of Kazan and Astrakhan, which occurred during the festival of the Intercession of the Virgin; this gave it its original name, the Cathedral of the Intercession on the Moat (there used to be a moat around it). In 1588, the architects added a chapel in one corner where the holy prophet Basil (Vasily) was buried. Basil was a half-wit believed to have a direct connection to God; canonized after his death, he had opposed Ivan's policies in life and since most of the population despised Ivan, the cathedral took St. Basil's name after Ivan's death. It wasn't until the 17th century that the Cathedral got its more colorful appearance.

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