*Travel in Moscow, Russia – travel guide, travel information and travel blog! Admire onion domes in Moscow, an iconic Russian architectural feature, especially the Kremlin!*
Russia, to me, used to be cold, closed and, mysterious. It seemed like the country unwelcomed any outsiders and much more approachable until recent years. After my Russia trip, I don’t think the Russian are unwelcoming at all – I would say… they are just straightforward and efficient. They don’t smile, they are cool, but they are not cold-blooded. I met some of them who are helpful (but not exactly… friendly). Besides, many of them look like Asian with dark hair and dark eyes. Then I realize, of course, Russian is a Euro-Asian country and though most of its population spreads within the Europe side, most of its land lies within the Asia side. So… anyway, we joined the Moscow Free Tour and it gave us a great overview of the Red Square and the nearby landmarks. Then we had to actually enter and explore the sites on our own. Check out “We Are Here! Moscow!” for information about the free tour and travel tips!
About the Onion Domes
Art historians had different views about when onion domes were used in Russian churches, and some estimated that onion domes began in architecture from as early as the 13th century. Besides, the domes existed in many different shapes, colors, and numbers that allegedly represent the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists in different combinations. The design was also popularly believed to symbolize burning candles.This episode is about the onion domes. They are the signature to Russian architecture, and they could be seen basically anywhere in the country. This architectural style is, in general, not exclusive to Russia but somehow the Russian made it much more adorable. Theories about how the Russian started the onion fest were diverse. Some suggested this feature was brought to Russia from Muslim countries. The domes of Byzantine churches, however, were broader and flatter (called helmet domes that looked like the shape of Hershey Kiss); the domes of Russian churches had a wider drum and a higher tip, which looked much more like an onion (so-called onion domes).
As an appetizer of our onion domes adventure, we ventured to the Novodevichy Convent, it’s not exactly in the historic city center but also not that far away. We took a 10-minute walk from the Sportivnaya subway station and soon the skyscrapers in the Presnensky District could be seen. The UNESCO World Heritage Site may not be as famous as the landmarks like the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, yet it has great historic value with its cloisters remained virtually intact since the 17th century, unlike others in Moscow.
The complex is so similar with the Kremlin and it’s a combination of buildings including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk, Octagonal bell tower, and almshouses. How the houses are transformed into exhibition rooms to showcase valuable artworks. Visit the church store, I found some very nice worship items in there at a good price.
St. Basil’s Cathedral
I have written a few times about this iconic, opulent architecture in the country and so I put it on the second and just to share some of my favorite photos that I took inside the museum.
Check out the stories of the cathedral and find out more about my favorite cathedrals at My Top 12 Cathedral in Europe (2)!
The structure consists of 8 flamboyant onion domes and each of them was originally a stand-alone church. I love the fresco of the churches so much I took some photos of the soft and colorful patterns and made it my iPhone’s wallpaper until I replaced it with Joan Carmella’s work.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
As much as the St. Basil’s Cathedral was impressive, my friends shared with me that he was actually expecting something… bigger. As a first-time traveler in Europe, he was hoping to see a cathedral with grandiose. So I brought him to the here, a rather new, but giant church built on the North bank of the Moskva River, while the Kremlin and Saint’s Basil’s Cathedral are in sight from the Patriarshy Bridge. The current church was a second built, completed in 2000, while the original was destroyed in 1931. Given that it’s a new cathedral, it was an important site of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although the cathedral is a reconstruction, the exterior of the church was decorated with life-like statues and the interior of the church has some beautiful paintings and décor that worth a visit.