St. Basil's has come to represent the epitome of Russian architecture, even though it is highly unusual in many ways. St. Basil's was built between 1555-1561, at the direction of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. (Watkin, 2005) It is now considered the epicenter of Moscow, the tallest structure there for 39 years before Tsar Ivan erected a bell tower that was taller than the cathedral. Ivan, the first ruler to carry the title "Tsar of All Russia," had great power over the country's secular and religious life. (Perrier, 2002) A devoutly Orthodox ruler, Ivan was also prone to terrible rages and acts of barbaric cruelty that put him at odds with the Church. Although the Orthodox Patriarch of Russia was the head of the Church, the Tsar did have the authority to convene church councils, and to make important decisions about church planning and design. In this day and age with the separation of Church and State, it may seem extreme to allow a political figure so much religious influence-but during the first 1600 years of Christianity it was very common. The beliefs of the Church were codified and clarified during a series of seven ecumenical councils that took place over several hundred years and were convened by political rulers, not religious officials. Voting on doctrinal matters, however, was solely under the jurisdiction of the bishops in attendance.