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RELIGIOUS SIGHTS
 

 

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, its official name. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.
Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. On March 13, 1881, as Tsar Alexander's carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist 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 bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics—according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. This record may be surpassed by the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which houses 7700 square meters of mosaics. 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.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint-Petersburg, Russia is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral (sobor) in the city and was the tallest Eastern Orthodox church upon its completion (subsequently surpassed only by the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour). It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great who had been born on the feast day of that saint.
The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786–1858), who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon's designer, Charles Percier. Monferrand's design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical pedimented octastyle porticos. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Monferrand's favour.
The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858.
The severe neoclassical exterior expresses a traditional Russian-Byzantine formula: a Greek-cross groundplan with a large central dome and four subsidiary domes. It is similar to Andrea Palladio's Villa La Rotonda, with a full dome on a high drum substituted for the Villa's low central saucer dome. The design of the cathedral in general and the dome in particular later influenced the design of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. and the Cathedral in Helsinki.
The exterior, which barely hints at the riotously rich interior, is faced with gray and pink stone, and features a total of 112 red granite columns with Corinthian capitals, each hewn and erected as a single block: 48 at ground level, 24 on the rotunda of the uppermost dome, 8 on each of four side domes, and 2 framing each of four windows. The rotunda is encircled by a walkway accessible to tourists. 24 statues gaze down from the roof, and another 24 from the top of the rotunda.
The cathedral's bronze doors are covered in reliefs, patterned after the celebrated doors of the Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence) in Florence, designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Suspended underneath the peak of the dome is a sculpted dove representing the Holy Spirit. Internal features such as columns, pilasters, floor, and statue of Montferrand are composed of multicolored granites and marbles gathered from all parts of Russia. The iconostasis is framed by eight columns of semiprecious stone: six of malachite and two smaller ones of lazurite. The four pediments are also richly sculpted.

Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in Saint-Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral's bell tower is the world's tallest Orthodox bell tower.
The current building, the first stone church in Saint-Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its golden spire reaches a height of 404 feet and features at its top an angel holding a cross. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg.
The cathedral's architecture also features a unique iconostasis (the screen which separates the nave of the church from the sanctuary). In the Eastern Orthodox Church the iconostasis is normally a flat wall or screen with three doors through it, the central Holy Doors used only for very solemn entrances, and the two side doors, by which the clergy and others enter and leave the sanctuary. However, at St. Peter and Paul, the iconostasis rises to form a sort of tower over the sanctuary.
The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Also was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years.

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral or Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral temple of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint-Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia.
The construction was started in 1801 and continued for ten years. Upon its completion the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos which was disassembled when the Kazan Cathedral was baptized.
It was modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Some art historians assert that Emperor Paul intended to build a similar church on the other side of the Nevsky that would mirror the Kazan Cathedral but his plans failed to materialize. Although the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the plans to create a replica of the Catholic basilica in Russia's then capital, several courtiers supported Voronikhin's Empire Style design.
After Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, and the commander-in-chief Mikhail Kutuzov asked Our Lady of Kazan for help, the church's purpose was to be altered. The Patriotic War over, the cathedral was perceived primarily as a memorial to the Russian victory against Napoleon.
In 1876, the first political demonstration in Russia took place in front of the church. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the cathedral was closed. In 1932, it was reopened as the pro-Marxist "Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism". Services were resumed in 1992.

Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Alexander Nevsky Lavra or Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded by Peter the Great in 1710 at the eastern end of the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint-Petersburg to house the relics of Alexander Nevsky, patron saint of the newly-founded Russian capital. In 1797, it was raised to the rank of lavra, previously bestowed only upon Kiev Monastery of the Caves and the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius.
The monastery premises contain two baroque churches, designed by father and son Trezzini and built in 1717–22 and 1742–50, respectively; a majestic Neoclassical cathedral, built in 1778–90 to a design by Ivan Starov and consecrated to the Holy Trinity; and numerous structures of lesser importance. It also contains the Lazarev and Tikhvin Cemeteries, where ornate tombs of Leonhard Euler, Mikhail Lomonosov, Alexander Suvorov, Nikolay Karamzin, Modest Mussorgsky, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Karl Ivanovic Rossi, Prince Garsevan Chavchavadze, a Georgian aristocrat, Sergei Witte and other famous Russians are preserved.

Chesme Church

The Chesme Church is a small Russian Orthodox church completed by architect Yury Velten in 1780 at the direction of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. It was erected adjacent to the Chesme Palace between Saint-Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo to commemorate Russia's 1770 victory over Turkish forces in Chesme Bay during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774. The church is a rare example of very early Gothic Revival influence in Russian church architecture. Catherine's lover Alexander Lanskoy had a replica church built in his manor near Staritsa.

 

St. Sampson Cathedral

St. Sampson Cathedral is one of Saint-Petersburg's oldest surviving churches. This charming azure and white baroque cathedral with its striking belltower is both an active church and a museum run by St. Isaac's Cathedral, with a fully restored and richly decorated interior containing several historic works of religious art.
The Cathedral's history dates back to 1709, when Peter the Great ordered the construction of a wooden church on this site to honour Russia's decisive victory over the Swedes at the Battle of Poltava, which fell on the feast day of St. Sampson - 27 June. One of the city's first cemeteries was established next to the church, and became the final resting place for some of St. Petersburg's most prominent foreign citizens, including the sculptor Carlo Rastrelli, the architect Domenico Trezinni, and Peter's private physician, Lavrentiy Blumentrost.
The stone cathedral and belltower replaced the wooden church in 1740. Although there are no records of the name of the cathedral's architect, it is presumed to be the work of Domenico Trezinni. Initially built with only one central dome, the cathedral was altered in 1761 with the addition of four smaller cupolas in traditional Russian style.

 

Smolny Cathedral

The dazzling cupolas of Smolny Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in St. Petersburg, rise majestically from its waterside location on the banks of the Neva River.
Smolny Cathedral was designed by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who came to Russia as a boy with his father, who was invited to the country by Peter the Great and who constructed the Winter Palace and the palace at Tsarskoe Selo. Smolny Cathedral was one of Rastrelli Jr.'s last projects, and one that the great architect left unfinished.
The cathedral was part of a complex planned by the Empress Elizabeth to include a nunnery and a new school for girls - the first and most famous girls' state school in the Russian Empire. Construction began on October 30, 1748, and by 1761 construction of the cathedral was complete. However, in December of that year, Elizabeth died, and work on the monastery came to a halt. Rastrelli was relieved of his duties at Smolny by Catherine the Great, and left Russia in October 1763.