Incredible Russian Orthodox Churches
The Russian Orthodox Church is renown for its places of worship which have easily recognisable architectural features. As eastern and western forms of Christianity diverged from each other, so did the appearance of churches depending on location. In Eastern Europe, orthodox churches evolved to feature a large central dome symbolising heaven with some also having additional towers and smaller domes. In Russia, some domes would be designed with steeply rising sides. Orthodox architecture has remained traditional and conservative with many newly built churches replicating previous designs.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, or Saint Basil’s Cathedral, is perhaps the most famous Russian Orthodox site and was built during the mid-sixteenth century under the supervision of Ivan the Terrible. Its construction celebrates the defeat of Kazan in 1552 and Astrakhan four years later. Located in the very centre of Moscow, it’s shape represents the flames of a fire and does not follow typical Russian architecture. The distinctive colouring of the cathedral first developed in the late-seventeenth century as paints and dyes became more readily available. Due to the Soviet Union’s policy of state atheism, the building has operated as part of the State Historical Museum since 1929. It was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1990.
Source: Kwong Yee Cheng
Sources: Petar Milošević and Ирина Мерцалова
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, Russia
Lying on the banks of the Moskva River, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world standing at 105 metres tall. It was built in honour of Christ for saving Russia from the advances of Napoleon Bonaparte’s failed invasion attempt in 1812. The unexpected defeat of the French Grande Armée resulted in over half of its soldiers being killed and saw a shift in power away from France. The cathedral would eventually be consecrated in 1883 after a long construction period which included a change in location and architectural style. However it was demolished in 1931 during the Soviet Union’s anti-religion campaign, with the Palace of the Soviets planned to replace it (it would never be built). After being given the green light to rebuilt the cathedral in the 1990s, it was reconsecrated in 2000 thanks to donates from approximately one million Muscovites.
Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, Yekaterinburg, Russia
The Church of All Saints (as it is usually known) is a modern church having been consecrated in 2003. It is built on the site of Ipatiev House where the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were kept for seventy-eight days before being murdered by the Bolsheviks during the country’s civil war. ‘The House of Special Purpose’ would eventually be demolished in 1977 with future Russian President Boris Yeltsin, chairman of the local Communist party, making the final decision as the building had become a shrine for pilgrims. The church commemorates the sainthood of the Romanov family after being canonised by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000. It has five domes with the largest reaching sixty metres high. Featuring both an upper and lower church, there is also a museum dedicated to the former imperial family.
Source: A viento
Sources: Anagoria and A viento
Church of the Savior on Blood, Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Church of the Savior on Blood, also known as the ‘Church on Spilt Blood’ and the ‘Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ’, is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated in 1881 by members of the left-wing ‘People’s Will’ movement. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Prince of Finland. Construction began two years later under the rule of his son, Alexander III, although it took until 1907 for it to be completed. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Saint Petersburg and is no longer used as a place of regular worship, but as a museum. Its design differs from much of the city’s architecture which follows Baroque and Neoclassical rules, and resembles the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral of Moscow.
Sources: Dionysus and Mannat Kaur
Annunciation Cathedral, Voronezh, Russia
Voronezh is Russian city of 900,000 people situated 467 kilometres south of Moscow. It is one of the few major provincial cities in the country to be growing in population. The Annunciation Cathedral is the tallest church in Russia outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Its highest point is ninety-metres with the height of the temple reaching eighty-five metres. Constructed between 1998 and 2009, it was the first cathedral to be built in the city since the previous one was damaged beyond repair during World War II. It is styled on Saint Vladimir’s Cathedral, another cathedral in the city that was literally blown up in 1931 by Bolsheviks.
Source: Виктор Вакуленко
Sources: Виктор Вакуленко and Бычков Денис
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia
It is one of the largest Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia with the capability of holding five thousand worshippers within its 3,170 square metres of space. Located in the capital city of Estonia, it originally opened in 1900 after a six year construction period when the country was still a part of the Russian Empire. Designed by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in the traditional Russian Revivalist style of the late ninteenth century, the cathedral is Tallinn’s largest place of worship. The building was carefully restored to its former glory after Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Source: Georg Mittenecker