St Basil

St. Basil's cathedral, 1554. Restoration scaffolding, 1968

Found this 1968 photograph of St Basil's Cathedral undergoing a restoration.  Evidently during the Soviet era, the backdrop for news reports was generally one of the other more utilitarian modern faces of Red Square, but today its polychromed glory is the ubiquitous backdrop to anything coming out of Moscow.  

Somewhat surprisingly, for those of us who have never been there, this is a brick building, built in 1554. Previous churches throughout Russia and on this site had been wood, probably much like this one from the mid-1700s.

Richard Davies, photographer: Podporozhye, Arkhangel region, Church of St Vladimir , 1757

During a 1955 restoration of St Basil's, a wood frame was found inside its load-bearing brick walls.  This would seem to indicate that the long tradition of stud or stave churches (that date from the late 900s) was used as the internal scaffolding for the new, aggrandised St. Basil's.  It is, they say, a veritable textbook of experimental brick work.  The traditional tall thin volumes of Russian Orthodox stave churches suits brick well: spans are narrow.

St Basil was something of a mendicant himself, something his beautiful but gaudy presence on Red Square belies.