Moscow: St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral stands as Moscow’s most famous artistic work of architecture. St. Basil’s is Russia’s most recognizable building, and gives to the Russian people the same sort of symbol of romantic pride as the Eiffel Tower provides to the French. Legend says that Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect after he was finished to prevent him from building another cathedral as magnificent as St. Basil’s. Originally, its sides were wooden, but during the reign of Catherine II the Great, the walls were reconstructed in the same stone seen today, and covered in swirling colors and designs. There are more than 400 icons painted between the 14th and 19th centuries by the most famous schools of Novgorod and Moscow hanging on the walls. A narrow pathway leads you from one alter to another, passing through a wooden spiral staircase so well hidden in a wall, that it was only found during the 1970 restoration of the cathedral. Taking in the medieval aura and mystical spirituality of St. Basil’s imbues visitors with what can only be described as a quintessential Russian experience.