How To Tell The Difference Between Saint Basil’s And The Kremlin

How To Tell The Difference Between Saint Basil’s And The Kremlin May 18, 2017


Just a word for everyone re-sharing that striking and horrifying cover picture of Time magazine today.

Do you see the famous Russian building which the White House is morphing into in that picture? The one that is also portrayed in my obligatory cover stock photo? The one everyone is calling “the Kremlin,” as in “Eerie Time picture shows The Kremlin taking over the White House?”


This is the Kremlin:


The picture is of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which is not the Kremlin nor is it in the Kremlin.


Saint Basil’s Cathedral is in the Red Square.

The Kremlin is about 1.3 kilometers away, a brisk seventeen-minute walk according to Google Maps.


Take a moment to appreciate the Russian ability to make a cityscape look really, really nice at night.

The Kremlin is a fortified, ancient portion of Moscow which has had people living in it since about two centuries before the birth of Christ. It was known as the “Grad of Moscow” up until the the fourteenth century. I don’t know what “The Grad of Moscow” is in Russian because, as we’ve established, I don’t speak Russian.  But it probably sounds awesome just as most Russian sounds awesome to my ears. It used to be the home of the Tsars, and was later established as the headquarters of the Soviet government.

There are three cathedrals and two domestic churches in The Kremlin: The Cathedral of the Dormition, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, the Church of the Twelve Apostles and the Church of the Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral is not in there.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, named for the Russian Orthodox saint Basil Fool for Christ, is not a government office of any kind. It’s a giant Orthodox church, which has been sadly relegated to a museum since the 1920s. There has been an Orthodox church on that spot since the 1300s, and it just kept growing and getting more ornate. It’s a symbol of faith and has become a symbol of Russia as a whole, but it’s never been a Russian government office. In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, the Russian government was run out of the Kremlin, not Saint Basil’s.

I’m still trying to figure out what buildings the Russian government operates out of now, and if they’re in the Kremlin, but I’m having trouble because all the Wikipedia pages seem to be in Russian and I already admitted I don’t speak Russian, nor does Google Translate know how to render Russian into intelligible English. All I know for sure is that they definitely don’t operate out of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Saint Basil’s is a museum (but really a church).

Time magazine is probably not confused; more likely they needed a picture of a quintessentially Russian building and they went with that one. But everyone else calling Saint Basil’s the Kremlin is confused, and it’s annoying. Saint Basil’s is a church/museum named after a beggar who picked pockets and criticized Ivan the Terrible, and the chances that it had anything to do with the president’s current legal woes are very low. The Kremlin is a walled city-within-a-city which housed the Russian government for centuries, and that’s the one you have to look out for.

So, to summarize, Saint Basil’s:


The Kremlin:


Let’s try to get this right, people.



(all images courtesy of Pixabay) 

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