The cathedral of St. Basil, also called the church of the Protection of Mary, is situated on the Krasnoi Ploschad (Red place), between the walls of the kremlin and those of the Kitai Gorod (Chinese city), and an edifice more bizarre, in point of both form and color, can not well be imagined. Standing alone at the extremity of this wide area, the Vassili Blagennoi seems erected in this conspicuous situation as if to show how grotesque a building the ingenuity of man could devote to the service of his Maker. There are no less than twenty towers and domes, all of different shapes and sizes, and painted in every possible color: some are covered with a network of green over a surface of yellow, another dome is a bright red with broad white stripes, and a third is gilded! Some historians affirm that it was built to commemorate the capture of Kazan; others that it was a whim of Ivan the Terrible, to try how many distinct chapels could be erected under one roof, o n a given extent of gro und, in such a manner that divine service could be performed in all simultaneously without any interference one with another. It is also said that the czar was so delighted with the architect, an Italian, who had thus admirably gratified Ills wishes, that when the edifice was finished he sent for him, pronounced a warm panegyric on his work, and then had his eyes put out, in order that he might never build such another! — a strange caprice of cruelty, if true—punishing the man, noti for failing, but succeeding, in gratifying his employer.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855