St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, located in Red Square, is definitely a must-go visit in the Russian capital. The entrance costs 700 rubles (it’s free for children up to 16 years old). In this article I tell you what to see in St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and how to organize your visit (tickets, schedules, duration and guided tours).
Updated on January 20, 2020 (written on July 14, 2016)
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1. St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow: don’t confuse it with the Kremlin
St. Basil’s Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the moat) is an Orthodox church on the Red Square in Moscow and constitutes the symbol or icon of the city.
You definitely must visit both its interior and exterior as its architectural style is unique. It was declared in 1990 a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the entire Kremlin.
Keep in mind that St. Basil’s Cathedral is not the main cathedral in Moscow, nor is the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, since in both cases this honor belongs to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Many people confuse this cathedral with the Moscow Kremlin, since they are situated next to each other, but the truth is that they are not absolutely related. The visit to this cathedral is often complemented with other tourist attractions also located in the Red Square and the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum or GUM department store.
- Official website: https://en.shm.ru/museum/hvb/
2. The origins of St. Basil’s Cathedral
According to legend, the czar blinded Postnik Yakovlev, the architect of this cathedral, so he could not build a church that was better than this one, though it is known that this is not true since Yakovlev also participated in the construction of the Kremlin of Kazan some years after.
Throughout its history (in 2016 it will be 455 years old), the cathedral has been in danger of disappearing on more than one occasion, surviving fires, Napoleon’s invasion and even a demolition plan by Stalin collaborators , who considered that the cathedral hindered military parades in Red Square.
3. What to see in St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow
Outside the cathedral you can see its beautiful domes, all different, which highlight a its striking colorful and rounded shapes. In front of the church, in a garden, a bronze statue stands in honor of Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who gathered volunteers for the army that fought against the Polish invaders during the Time of the Riots (between 1598 and 1613).
I recommend seeing this cathedral with night lighting too
Inside many people expect to find a huge room given its external dimensions, but St. Basil’s Cathedral is composed of nine rooms or chapels, each decorated differently and dedicated to each of the saints on whose festivities Ivan the Terrible won a battle. For this reason, its interior is like a maze.
In some of the chapels you can find groups of choirs singing,
4. Schedules, tickets, guided tours and rules
You can visit the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow in approximately 1 hour or even less. The schedules are as follows:
- June – August: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. + Territory of St. Basil’s Cathedral open daily 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. during summer months
- November – April: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- May, September, October: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closes the first Wednesday of each month for cleaning. The ticket office closes 45 minutes before closing time.
Tickets are purchased at the cathedral itself. Also they can be purchased online: https://tickets.shm.ru/en/#id=1.
- Entry ticket: 700 roubles
- Entrance ticket with audioguide (English, French, Chinese, Spanish): 1200 RUB
- Children and teenagers up to 16 years can enter for free. There are also reduced tickets for certain groups.
- Detailed Rates (in Russian): http://shm.ru/visit/tickets/hvb/
Buying tickets online is very simple. Note that you have the option to buy the normal ticket (700 rubles) or the audio guide ticket (1,200 rubles):
If you prefer, you can also take a guided tour through the GetYourGuide platform.
Finally, it is worth noting the rules for access to the cathedral:
- You can’t touch the windows, nor any exhibit objects and decoration.
- You can take pictures or videos for free without flash and without tripod. However, in temporary exhibitions, both photos and videos are prohibited.
- Due to the characteristics of the cathedral, where the accesses are by stairs, children and disabled carts are prohibited.
- Don’t leave small children unattended because it is easy for them to get lost inside the cathedral
- Bags and backpacks whose size exceeds 30 × 40 cm and umbrellas, must be left in the designated storing areas.
- When the temperature is below -15 degrees, schedules can be reduced.
5. Zaryadye Park: relax after the visit
At the end of your visit you can relax in Zaryadye Park, just behind the St. Basil’s Cathedral and opened officially in 2017.
In 2018, Time magazine included this park in its list of best places in the world. The park recreates the different landscapes of Russia and ends with a floating bridge over the Moskva River from which you can admire an impressive view of Moscow and the monuments in Red Square. The entrance to the park and the visit to its floating bridge are free.
Have you visited the Cathedral of St. Basil? You can leave your comment below