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Russia's national emblems

Symbols of Russia

Saint Basil's Cathedral
Russia's national emblems symbolically represents a nation. Apart from the formal ones like national anthem, national flag, national coat of arms defined by law, here is a number of unofficial symbols. They have cultural, historic or religious nature and create an immediate association with the country and the people as the national community. The symbols of Russia are always the subject of the country pride.

Saint Basil's Cathedral aka the Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat

The colorful onion domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral are instantly recognizable around the world as emblems of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. Saint Basil's Cathedral was erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–61 on the order of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan.

The cathedral was erected over the grave of and named after the saint Basil Fool for Christ (Vasily the Blessed, Wonderworker of Moscow, Blessed Vasily of Moscow, fool for Christ). Vasily the Blessed is a Russian Orthodox saint of the type known as yurodivy or "holy fool for Christ". He lived during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and had a strong influence over the Russian people. Vasily the Blessed the one who even the tsar was fearful of and paid respect to.

Like is life of Blessed Vasily of Moscow is much different from life of most Russian saints, the Design of Saint Basil's Cathedral has no analogues in Russian architecture. The building of the church is shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky. The cathedral foreshadowed the climax of Russian national architecture in the 17th century.

Saint Basil's Cathedral has a unique layout. Eight side churches arranged around the central core - Church of the Feast of the Pokhrov – each represents an important historical event in a Russian history.

The long and painful history of the cathedral is full of glorious and tragic events. The French troops who occupied Moscow in 1812 used the church for stables and looted anything worth taking. The cathedral stayed intact in the Fire of Moscow after Napoleon invasion. Later on it was the obstacle for Joseph Stalin's urbanist plans but finally spared and operated as a division of the State Historical Museum. Today one of the UNESCO world heritages.

The Moscow Kremlin

Kremlin, Moscow

The Moscow Kremlin (Moskovskiy Kreml, or just the Kremlin) is the symbol of the Russian State and most recognizable of Russian sights. It is the main social, political, spiritual, religious, cultural and historical complex of Russia's capital. This beautiful architectural complex is located in the very heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden.

The Kremlin is also the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels). The fortified complex includes four palaces, four cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The Kremlin is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation and is used in reference to the government of the Russian Federation. It is also a bright illustration of Russian political tradition.

The Kremlin has been heart of the Muscovite empire for over 600 years. During the last millennium, Russia was invaded by Mongols, Lithuanians Swedes, and Poles, Crimean Tatars, Napoleon and Hitler. And thus the Kremlin was not only a physical fortress but also a psychological symbol intimidating all those who might challenge Russia's ruler.

The existing Kremlin walls and towers were built by Italian masters over the years 1485 to 1495. Their overall length is 2235 metres (2444 yards), but the height ranges from 5 to 19 metres, depending on the terrain. The wall's thickness is between 3.5 and 6.5 metres. The number of towers increased from 18 to 20 in the 17th century. The highest tower is the Troizkaya, which was built up to its present height of 73,9 metres in 1495.

Cathedral Square is the heart of the Kremlin. It is surrounded by six buildings, including three cathedrals: The Cathedral of the Dormition, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Cathedral of the Archangel Michael. One of most notable structures in the Kremlin is the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, which is said to mark the exact centre of Moscow and resemble a burning candle. The largest structure in the Kremlin is the Terem Palace (official residence of the President of Russia.) There is also Arsenal, which was originally built for Peter the Great in 1701. Armoury building, which currently a museum housing Russian state regalia and Diamond fund.

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Volga river

Volga river, Russia

The Volga is the largest river in Europe. It is the principal waterway of western Russia and the historic cradle of the Russian state. Its basin, sprawling across about two-fifths of the European part of Russia, contains almost half of the entire population of the Russian Republic. The Volga's immense economic, cultural, and historic importance — along with the sheer size of the river and its basin — ranks it among the world’s great rivers.

The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is often referred to as Volga-Matushka (Volga-mother) in Russian literature and folklore. Volga River symbolized huge open spaces of the country, the freedom and will and its people.

Many Orthodox shrines and monasteries are strewn along the banks of the Volga. Volga criuses are extremely popular and give a chance to see some of beautiful Russian cities located on the banks of the river. They are Astrakhan, the former stronghold of the Golden Horde; Volgograd (formerly called Stalingrad) – the scene of the Battle of Stalingrad, that decided the fate of WWII; Saratov with its longest in Europe Saratov Bridge; Kazan, Samara, Ulyanovsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, the Golden Ring cities Yaroslavl and Tver.

Russian Bear

Russian Bear

The Russian Bear is a national personification for Russia, used in cartoons, articles and dramatic plays at least since the 17th century, and relating alike to Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the present-day Russian Federation.

Russia is often compared with the bear by Westerners in not a flattering context as the big, brutal and clumsy country. One of the national symbols of Russia in the west is a tamed bear, often depicted with balalaika, or riding a bike. The image was greatly originated from the Soviet Circus.

The bear can be seen on flags and coats of arms of many Russian cities, like Ekaterinburg, Novgorod, Norilsk, Perm, Khabarovsk, Yaroslavl. It is a key figure of Russian folklore, a frequent character of Russian proverbs, riddles anecdotes and animation.

More about icons and symbols of Russia

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