Cathedrals and Churches, Saint Petersburg
My Sunday afternoon wanderings took me south of the Fontanka river where I came across this classical Orthodox church on Izmailovsky Prospekt. This turns out to be the Trinity Cathedral, built between 1828 and 1835 as the regimental church of the Izmailovsky Regiment, an elite guards unit of the Imperial Russian Army.
Prior to the Bolshevik revolution the church was renowned for its collection of icons but after the 1922 dissolution of the Cathedrals its interior was stripped of valuables and in 1938 it became a warehouse used by the Ministry of Telecommunications.
It wasn't until 1990 that it was returned to the Orthodox Church whose restoration project is ongoing to this day. The Cathedral formally re-opened in 2010 but its interior remains starkly bare.
On the square in front of the church is the memorial to the Izmailovsky Regiment's participation in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish occupation. This was constructed in 1886 using trophy Turkish cannons for the column and crowned with the winged-figure of Victory.
For some reason Stalin wasn't impressed with the memorial and sold it off to Germany as scrap metal in 1930.
As part of the celebrations of St Petersburg's 300th anniversary in 2003 a replica column was commissioned, using the original's blueprints, with exact replicas of the Turkish cannon cast by the Novolipetsk Steel Company who gifted them to the city.
This is a place I discovered on my random Sunday wanderings and couldn't help but be impressed by its Baroque splendour.
Located in the Admiralteysky District the church is best known as the St Nicholas Naval Cathedral, St Nicholas being the patron saint of seamen. It was constructed between 1753 and 1762 by the naval architect Savva Chevakinsky and has been the memorial church for the Russian Navy ever since. It is one of the few churches which remained active during the Soviet era, although its bells were removed in 1933, and despite being badly damaged during the WWII seige of Leningrad has been fully restored.
It is still very much a church of worship, rather than a tourist attraction, and I noted that it seemed well attended on the Sunday that I was passing. The interior, by all accounts, is particularly noteworthy for its 18th century icons and the various memorial plaques dedicated to Russian naval history.
Although churches aren't really my thing St Isaac's is a particularly impressive structure. It was built at the height of Russian Imperialism and its construction took 40 years, between 1818 and 1858. The architect, Auguste Montferrand, who was responsible for many of St Petersburg's finest buildings died a couple of months after its completion leaving a fitting legacy.
With is capacity of 14,000 it was at the time the largest church in Russia and is only superseded by the 1990's rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 1990.
As with all the other Orthodox churches in the city it suffered looting and desecration following the 1917 revolution and in the 1930's became a museum best known for the hanging of a Foucault Pendulum from its cupola to demonstrate the Earth's rotation.
This was one of the first churches to be restored following the thaw in relations between church and state. It is now part of the State Museum Complex and only used for worship on major religious occasions.
Of particular interest to myself is the colonnaded walkway around the base of the dome which can be accessed by climbing a 300 step stairway. As well as being open during normal opening times this has extra opening during summer evenings and by all accounts the sunset views over the city are particularly stunning.
Definitely on my list next visit.
In a city renowned for its magnificent buildings the ostentatiously elaborate Cathedral of the Resurrection takes pride of place. Yet it was almost demolished during the Communist era, only surviving as a shell because it was used as a morgue during the Second World War siege of St Petersburg by the Germans.
Although it was originally consecrated in the name of the Resurrection of Christ it has become more commonly known as The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood (and various variations of such). It was built as a memorial to Tsar Alexander II who was assassinated here by a member of the reactionary "People's Will" organisation on March 13th 1881 - a shrine opposite the altar marks the exact spot.
Work began in 1883, after an architectural competition won by the local architect Alfred Parland. The construction was funded by the Tsar's family, along with private donations, and was completed in 1907 with the final cost being 4.6 million roubles.
The architect's brief was to create a structure in the style of 17th century Orthodox churches and in particular to emulate Moscow's St Basil Cathedral. With no expense spared both the interior and exterior feature extensive use of marble, semi-precious stones, gold and silver and most striking of all over 7,500 square metres of elaborate mosaics.
Following the 1917 revolution the church was looted and in 1930 officially closed for religious purposes. It became a warehouse which at one stage was used for vegetables, resulting in the nickname the "Church on Spilled Potatoes".
In 1970 it was in serious disrepair and was passed on to the Museum of St Isaac's Cathedral and the painstaking restoration began. It was re-opened as a museum in 1997 but has never been re-consecrated and so no services are held.
Churches aren't really my thing and with the entry fee at 250 roubles, plus extra for photography, I didn't go inside this visit but by all accounts it is suitably impressive. The outside certainly is and doesn't cost anything.
This magnificent edifice with its main building facing Nevsky Avenue was built about two hundred years ago. It is adorned with different bas-reliefs on Biblical subjects. You can see several sculptures in the niches: Apostle St.Andrew, John the Baptist and Prince Vladimir who baptized the old state of Kiev Rus in 988 AD.
The interior is worth seeing, too. The interior decoration consists of dozens of red granite columns, and a mosaic floor.
The semicircular colonnade consisting of ninety-six 13-meter-high columns will not fail to attract your attention...
The word "Lavra" designates a Russian Orthodox monastery of the highest order of which there are only two in the modern Russia. St Petersburg's Alexander Nevsky Lavra is considered second in rank to the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius at Sergiyev Posad but is still pretty impressive in its own right.
The monastery was founded by Peter I in 1710 on a site believed then to have been where Prince Alexander Yaroslavich defeated the Swedish army in the decisive Neva Battle - in the fact the actual battle took place about 12 miles upriver. Prince Alexander became known as Nevsky and was later canonized by the Orthodox Church.
Once the monastery was up and running Nevsky's remains were transferred to it and in 1750 Empress Elizabeth had a solid silver shrine built to house them.
In the early 20th century the complex boasted 16 churches as well as the accommodations and classrooms for the monks and clerics.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution the churches were closed and the accommodations taken over by the city government. During this period many of the valuables were looted, Nevsky's remains were moved to the Museum of Atheism at Kazan Cathedral and his silver shrine rehoused in the Hermitage.
It wasn't until 1985 that the site resumed religious observance with the first services at St Nicholas's Church. Nevsky's relics were reinterred at Trinity Cathedral in 1989, although the silver shrine remains in the Hermitage, and since then the Lavra has been extensively restored and is now once again the second most important Orthodox site in Russia.
Visitors are welcome to wander the courtyards and gardens, free of charge, although they are expected to treat the site with reverence regarding dress and women expected to wear a head covering. There is a nominal entry fee for the graveyards, where many famous Russians are buried including Tchaikovsky, Rubinshtein, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka and Dostoevsky, and for entry to the churches, except when attending services.
Alternatively, this magnificent church is also named the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.
One of my favourite buildings in the world is St Basil's Cathedral at Red Square in Moscow. So when we were walking, and looked down a canal and saw this magnificent church, of which the "onion domes" are built in shades of blue and green, white and gold, which we later came to know was called The Church of the Saviour on Spilled blood or the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, it was an absolute delightful vision.
It is said that this church is built on the site that Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It was commissioned by Alexander II's son Alexander III, and construction commenced in 1883.
The church was closed as a church and used for storage during Soviet times, and it suffered a lot of damage during World war Two.
It wasn't until 1997 when the church was re-opened to the public as a church, a place of worship.
So today was a pretty cool day! We cashed in on the free breakfast at the hotel. No money made on us here!
Church of the Spilled Blood
Then we made our way to the Church on Spilled Blood. We only wore Tshirts because we didn't think it was very cold, and it wasn't, as long as we were moving. All the Russians wore big coats and jackets. We were ok, but I think they thought we were really confident and tough, or just crazy! Either way, nobody gave us any trouble!
We were astounded by the beauty and uniqueness of the famous church. Incredible really! It was built on the site where Czarist Alexander II was assassinated. Christian orthodox without a bare spot to be had anywhere. Quite an impressive display of architecture and art. We took an audio tour here and it was well worth the investment. Now we know what we looked at and what impressed us and why. we took many photos.
once outside again, Anita spotted a souvenir bazaar! Yup! You got it! Forty minutes later we decided to go back and get our jackets at the hotel which wasn't' far away.
Visit to Female Monastery dedicated to St. John of Kronstadt (Russian: Иоанн Кронштадский) was not be part of guided tour, but we have a luck that our tour guide was so kind to bring us to this sacred place for free.
The Monastery is located on riverbank Karpovka.
The complex of Monastery is very big. It have a very big church, Monastery lodging and courtyard fenced with high walls and with big gate.
The church have a three level. In basement is a church museum. One part is dedicated to mother prioress, head of the monastery from the early 20th century and other the patron of monastery St. John of Kronstadt. From one of nuns you could find out many things of Monastery, life in there, its patron and meritorious.
On ground flour you could find a reception and ask about Monastery.
The regulations require compliance with certain rules about dress code, as in all the monasteries. For women are required skirts and scarves to covered the hair, and men long pants and covered shoulders. Below the stairs is a cabinet with simple skirts that you can pull on pants and scarfs to cover head. If you don't have that themselves you can use for free, and of course, be returned on leaving the temple.
On upper flour first you find a gift shop and big church. The holly mass is run by nuns.
Locally known as the "Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood", the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the spot where Tzar Alexander II, known for abolishing serfdom in 1861, was murdered by a member of a terrorist group called the "People's Will" on March 13, 1881. The group succeeded assassinating the czar by a hand-thrown bomb. His son & heir, Alexander III was determined to erect a church on this site in memory of his father and furthermore to have it built in the "traditional Russian" style to counter what he saw as the "contaminating Western influence of Petersburg." Construction on this remarkable church began in 1883. Inspired by St. Basil's in Moscow, the church is a quintessential Russian design featuring onion domed towers and exquisite mosaics which lavishly decorate the church inside and out.
After the Revolution of 1917, the church was seriously abused and deprived of much needed maintenance. It was closed for decades when the government of the time did anything and everything to discourage and rid the country of its religious heritage. Part of this movement was the destruction of churches. This particular church survived most probably because it was assigned another use!!
Thankfully, the church was made a branch of St. Isaac's Cathedral around 1970 and it was through funding from St. Isaac's that the "Church of the Savior on the Spilt Blood" was able to be so beautifully restored for all the world to appreciate. The restoration took 25 years and cost 4.6 million rubles --- not an insignificant sum considering the relatively unstable Russian economy of the time period. Thus, an architectural & cultural masterpiece was saved and reopened in August, 1997.
We were not allowed inside the church, (probably because of time constraints) but apparently one of the most impressive works inside is the shrine built on the spot where Alexander II was mortally wounded! As you can see from the accompanying photo, it is quite a busy place and one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg. If you have time, look for the flea market located behind the church for souvenirs. We missed that!
A postcard of the "Church on the Spilt Blood" was sent to me by Natalya2006 who lives in St. Petersburg and who gave me my first look at this magnificent church. It was wonderful to see it in person.
Admission to the church is quite expensive because restoration is expensive and still on-going. Additional fees apply for use of cameras & videos. Unfortunately, for some reason many of my photos posted on this page seem to have deteriorated and become lighter and therefore do not actually portray the rich coloring of the mosaics.
From the expresstorussia.com site come the following details of hours and admission prices (2013) Also for more history, please visit that site
Address and Contact Details:
2b Nab. Kanal Griboedova
Metro: Nevsky Prospect
11:00-19:00 in the summer (May 1st – Sept 15th) 10.00-19.00. Last entrance is an hour before closing.
NOTE: This entry does not list separate prices for Russians versus foreigners but I would assume that exists as it does at other sights in the city.
250 roubles for an adult, 150 roubles for a student with an ISIC, 50 roubles 7-18year old.
Audio guide is available in several languages for 100 roubles.
The church was named "The Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist" as it was consecrated on the birthday of John the Baptist. As it was built to honour the Battle of Chesma which the Russians won in 1770, the church is also popularly known as the "Chesme Church."
The church is located in Red Village, which was a country estate of the Sergey Poltoratski family, friends of Alexander Pushkin. It is situated in an area that was known as Kekerekeksinen (Finnish: frog swamp) which is now in a housing area known as Moskovsky Prospekt, approximately halfway between Park Pobedy and the Moskovskaya metro station. While the church was built at a very ordinary location in 1770, over the centuries, it become part of the city of Saint Petersburg. Located between St. Petersburg and the Summer Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, it served as a traveler's resting place.
In 1777, King Gustav III of Sweden attended the laying of the church's foundation. The church was built between 1777 and 1780. It is a memorial church to honour the 1770 Russian victory at the Battle of Chesme. Empress Catherine II chose the site as it was here that she got the news of the Russian victory over the Turks. Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor was present at the church's consecration.
The knights of the Order of St. George were also in possession of the church at some point when it was given the third name, "St. George’s Church."
The church and the Chesme Palace became a labour camp when the Soviet government occupied it. In 1923, the church was closed and used as a storehouse. Between 1941 and 1945, the church suffered damages during the "Great Patriotic War". During the Second World War, the Institute of Aviation Technology took possession of the Church and the Chesme Palace. During 1970–75, it was fully restored under the supervision of the architects M.I. Tolstov and A.P. Kulikov. In 1977, the church became a museum of the Battle of Chesme (with artifacts from the Central Naval Museum). Religious control was restored to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, and regular church services have been held at the church since then.
The church, built in Gothic Revival style faces southwest. Painted pink and white, the church appears like a "candy cone, with long, vertical white stripes (embossed vertical string cornices drawn together with figured horizontal fascias) giving the impression that it’s rising straight up from the earth like a mirage and shooting upwards." The church was built by Yury Felten who was the court architect to Catherine the Great.
The inspiration for adopting the pseudo-Gothic style of architecture was a symbol of "the exoticism of the Turkish architecture but also reflected the Anglomania that significantly influenced the design of Catherine’s palaces and the parks surrounding them". While the Chesme Palace was built on these lines, the Church of John the Baptist was also built in a similar style. This style introduced during Catherine's time came in vogue in Russia in the subsequent centuries as well. It is also said that the choice of the Gothic Revival architecture style was indicative of "triumph for ancient northern virtues in the spirit of the crusaders."
The church was built with brick and white stone. It has a "quatrefoil" layout in the form of four semi cylinders with barrel vaults. Filials, spires and lancet windows were built over it, and the edifice emerged as a fusion of Gothic and neo-Gothic motifs. The quatrefoil design was common in the late 17th century in many private estate churches and the style was known as the “Moscow baroque”. During the 18th century, its adoption during Catherine's reign was considered an experimentation reflecting "the increasing secularization of the upper nobility." The entrance to the church has a neo-Gothic Rose window and a round window above it. The entrance portal has sculptures of angels. The main tower and four small towers have small domes, which are replacements of the traditional onion domes commonly seen in Russia. The cross that was fixed on the central turret originally was substituted with the Russian proletariat symbol of toil in the form of a hammer, tongs and anvil. The walls are striped and crenellated. The impressive relief design on the top of the walls is also in the form of crenellated parapet with pinnacles. There is also a 100 kilograms (220 lb) bell in one of the towers. The interior, which originally had Italian icons, was destroyed in a fire in 1930. However, it was restored when the church was refurbished.Inside the church, there are many iconic paintings and one particular painting of interest is that of Christ’s arrival in Nazareth. When it was a naval museum, there was a vivid painting, in rich colours, depicting the sea battle and Russian victory over the Turks, in place of the “Christ the saviour in the iconostasis-less altar apse”. Nothing remains of the original interiors.
The exterior views of the church are impressive. The lanterns on the roof are stated to be similar to those seen on the Gothic temple at Stowe House.
The church precincts have been used as a reliquary for war heroes since the time of its consecration and during the Siege of Leningrad. The cemetery is known as the "Chesmenskoe War Veterans' Cemetery", and contains unnamed graves dated 1812-1944 of those who died in Russian wars.
The coffin of Rasputin rested in Chesme Church before his burial at Tsarskoye Selo in 1916.
Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral is dedicated to the citizens who died in the Siege of Leningrad. The cathedral was laid down on 29.08.1996 on the place where during the siege used to be the cemetery.
In the city center there rises up a wall of a fortress or better to say its part. The wall is well-known to those who come to the Moscow railway station by car. But for me when I saw the wall, it was a wonderful view.
Actually it is a part of a temple of the Feodorovsky icon of Divine mother which was constructed for the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. The temple was constructed in 1910-1913 according to the project of architect S. S. Krichinsky. Now the church is closed for renovation, but the works on the bell tower are already finished and next to the temple a rather big chapel is constructed.
It is very nice to walk around the the little island of the Peter and Paul Fortress: lots of greenery,
nice beaches, benches, small kiosks where you can buy the delicious Russian ice-cream and other goodies, and if you are not to tired after all the walking, you can continue on the other side, crossing the bridge and getting into the Alexandrovsky garden.
Saint Peterburg on foot is just great!
The history of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in St. Petersburg starts in 1891 with a little chapel of the Immaculate Conception being built by the French catholics, who were a part of the multinational community of St. Catherine of Alexandria church. The main sacred thing in the chapel was the statue of Our Lady, brought from Lourdes, France. The worship of Our Lady of Lourdes was very widespread by that time throughout the Catholic Church, after defining a dogma of Immaculate Conception in 1854, and appearance of the Lady in Lourdes in 1858.
The French community ordered the stone church of Our Lady project from the architect Leonty Benoit (1856-1928), son of a famous Petersburgian architect, academician Nicolas Benoit (1813-1898), who has been for a long time the syndic of the French catholic community of St. Petersburg. The preliminary plan, made by 1902, suggested the building of three-aisled basilica in the Roman style using the elements of Northern Modern.
In spite of all the efforts made by the French Community, the building constantly lacked the money. This was the major circumstance to stop the works and remake the architect project. L. Benoit developed the new project together with M. Peretyatkovich (1872-1916), who changed the project to make it cheaper.
A number of the significant events from the Catholic Community of St. Petersburg and even Catholic Church in Russia history are connected with the church in Kovensky lane. For many years it was the only operating Catholic Church in St. Petersburg and one of two throughout Russia. From the middle of 1990s there have been several: the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought from Portugal (November 6-7 1997), the relics of Thérèse of Lisieux (France) (March 5-8 1998), Our Lady icon “The icon of wisdom” (Greece) (April 2004).