Russian Culture - Classical and Contemporary

Russian Architecture - Русская архитектура

St. Basil's Cathedral (16th c.)

The evolution of architecture in Russia includes early wooden churches in the north, develops through fabulous onion-domed structures that have become iconic images of Russia, and culminates in classic imitations of European styles in massive secular structures.


Kizhi (14th c.)

Moscow State University (20th c.)


Russian Church Architecture

The earliest stone buildings in Russia reflected strong influence of Greek Byzantine styles, notably in the churches of ancient Rus' (in Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine). To the right is St. Sophia, founded in 11th-century Kiev. To the left is St. Vladimir in Novgorod, representing medieval (12th-c.) architecture of the north. The style of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow (below and at top) represents the peak of Russian decorative church architecture.

Western Influence: St. Petersburg (17th & 18th c.)

The great architects of Russian secular architecture borrowed from Western European models. Bartolomeo Rastrelli created magnificent palaces in the Baroque style (among the most notable, The Winter Palace on the left). The second signature architectural style of St. Petersburg is the Neo-Classical, whose leading architect was Carlo Rossi. Across the Palace Square from the Winter Palace is Rossi's Staff Headquarters (picture on the right, dominated by the Alexander Column).


Communism and Soviet Monumental Style


During the Soviet period (1917-1991), the government built massive structures in a monumental style that symbolized the power of the state and the eternal promise of Communism. The most remarkable of these structures were built under Stalin and still dominate Moscow's skyline. The series of "tall buildings" were built in a "wedding cake" style exemplified by the picture of Moscow State University on the left (designed by Lev Rudnev, built 1949-1953). To the right is a picture of his Palace of Culture in Warsaw (1952-1955).



Contemporary Moscow



Post-Soviet Moscow continues the tradition of monumental, super-sized structures which characterized city building in the 20th century. Moscow today is building enormous sky scrapers no longer in a distinctive national manner, but using a global international style of architucture seen throughout world capitals where the power of international business is on display.


"Sparrow Hills" Complex,
188.2 meters (617 feet, 5 inches)


The "Moscow-Citi" International
Business Center
(268.4 m, 880.5 ft)


<<Back to the Russian Page>>