Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Onion Dome

When I think of Russia and Russian architecture, I almost immediately think of the prevalence of onion domes atop colorful cathedrals. These domes are also commonly seen on Russian Orthodox churches not geographically located in Russia. Because of this strong architectural association I have between Russia and its onion domes, I decided to find out more on this topic. What I found out is that no one really seems to know the origin. There are timeframes developed based on historical evidence of cathedrals without onion domes and then a transition into the usage of these domes, seemingly during Ivan the Terrible's rule with Saint Basil's Cathedral getting its iconic onion domes under the rule of Ivan's son. Popular belief says the domes are to represent candles; however, it does not seem that the original architects had this in mind. Regardless of the rationale and development of the onion dome with regards to Russian Orthodox churches, it seems that for many, there is a strong association between the two.

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