Architecture can play an important role in the visual identity of places, especially major cities. Iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building (1931), the Sydney Opera House (1973) and the Eiffel Tower (1889) instantly distinguish New York, Sydney and Paris. The same can be said for Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. But Saint Basil’s has been around for hundreds of years longer than these newcomers.
It is hard to believe that this stunning building, constructed by Ivan the Terrible, has stood for 450 years despite many close calls. Napoleon ordered it blown up during his hasty retreat, but heavy rains prevented his orders being carried out. It was shelled during the Bolshevik Revolution and early Communist leaders wanted it destroyed because it blocked the path of military parades.
The Cathedral is now a museum and is regarded as one of the world’s most iconic sacred places. How boring the Moscow skyline would be if Napoleon had been successful in destroying it.