Church of the Savior on Blood

Trip Start Feb 05, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Flag of Russian Federation  ,
Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Church of the Savior on Blood is one of the many monuments of St Petersburg's architecture. The entrance fee is about 100 rubles, another 100 rubles if you want to take pictures, another hundred if you want to film (and so on...).

the inside is astonishing. every square centimeter of the walls is covered with mosaics. sometimes there is a piece missing. in one corner you can even find an ATM machine. if you can omit the error of the detail, it is a wonderful place. i am in no way entitled to judge about all the beauties of this building. so let's refer to Wikipedia.

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Church of the Savior on Blood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Church of the Savior on Blood is one of the main Russian Orthodox churches of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood (Храм Спаса на Крови) and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (Собор Воскресе 85;ия Христова), its official name. The name refers to the blood of the assassinated Alexander II of Russia, who was mortally wounded on that site on March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), and that of the crucified Jesus.

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Royal family with the support of many private investors.

The church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. As the tsar's carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by a conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. Another conspirator took the chance to explode another explosive device, killing himself and wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.

Detail of the richly decorated fašade and onion domesA temporary shrine was erected on the site of the attack while the project for a more permanent memorial was undertaken. It was decided that the section of the street where the assassination took place was to be enclosed within the walls of a church. That section of the embankment was therefore extended out into the canal to allow the shrine to fit comfortably within the building and to provide space on the exterior wall for a memorial marking the spot where the assassination took place. Inside, an elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander's death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones. Amid such rich decoration, the simple cobblestones on which the tsar's blood was spilled and which are exposed in the floor of the shrine provide a striking contrast.

Architecturally, the cathedral is out of place in St. Petersburg. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. The church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics -- according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world.

Frescoes and mosaics in the interior.The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day - including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel - but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (and Russian, despite his name). Perhaps not surprisingly, the church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics - the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures - but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Savior on Potatoes. It suffered significant damage during the Siege of Leningrad. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for a nearby opera theatre.

In July 1970, management of the church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the cathedral were ploughed back into restoring the church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been resanctified and does not function as a full-time place of worship. Before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, it commemorated only funeral liturgies. The church is now one of the main tourist attractions of St. Petersburg.
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