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Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

When the last of Napoleon's soldiers left Moscow, Tsar Alexander I signed a manifesto, December 25, 1812, declaring his intention to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

It took some time for actual work on the projected cathedral to get started. The first finished architectural project was endorsed by Alexander I in 1817. It was a flamboyant Neoclassical design full of Freemasonic symbolism. Construction works were begun on the Sparrow's Hills, the highest point in Moscow, but the site proved insecure.

In the meantime Alexander I was succeeded by his brother Nicholas. Profoundly Orthodox and patriotic, the new Tsar disliked Neoclassicism and Freemasonry of the project endorsed by his brother. He commissioned his favourite architect Konstantin Thon to create a new design, taking as his model Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Thon's Neo-Byzantine design was approved in 1832, and a new site, closer to the Moscow Kremlin, was chosen by the Tsar in 1837. A convent and church on the site had to be relocated, so that the cornerstone was not laid until 1839.

The Cathedral took years to build and didn't emerge from its scaffolding until 1860; elaborate frescos by some of the best Russian painters continued in the interior for another twenty years. The Cathedral was consecrated at the very day Alexander III was crowned, May 26, 1883. A year earlier, Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" was debuted there.

After the Revolution, the prominent site of the Cathedral called out for redevelopment by the Soviets, who planned to replace the church with a monument to socialism, known as the Palace of Soviets that would rise in modernistic buttressed tiers to support a gigantic sculpture of Lenin, arm raised in blessing, perched atop a dome. On December 5, 1931, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble.

Funds for the largest building in the world remained unavailable, however. A foundation hole gaped on the site until under Nikita Khrushchev it was transformed into a huge public swimming pool.

With the end of the Soviet rule, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in February 1990. A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year.

A construction fund was opened in 1992 and foundations began to be poured in the fall of 1994. The lower church (Church of the Transfiguration) was consecrated in 1996, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated August 19, 2000.


Guinea, 2008, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 1994, Thon and Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 1997, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2008, Nikolay I, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2012, Patriarch Aleksei II, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

USSR, 1991, LZ-127 over Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, Moskow. Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, Moskow. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 1994.05.25, Moscow. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2000.04.09—17, Moskow. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2008.05.26, Moskow. Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 1996, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2001, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2001, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2004, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2004, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2011, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2003.06.20, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2004.02.24, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2004.02.24, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2008, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

Russia, 2008, Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour

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