Our second stop on our highlights tour in St. Petersburg, Russia, was at the reopened — back in 1997, so it was closed on an earlier visit — Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood.
“The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood [Russian: Храм Спаса на Крови] is a marvelous Russian-style church built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated a number of reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost enslaved to their owners) from their ties to their masters and undertook a rigorous program of military, judicial and urban reforms, never before attempted in Russia. However, during the second half of his reign Alexander II grew wary of the dangers of his system of reforms, having only barely survived a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage.” – Saint-Petersburg.com
“The decision was taken to build a church on the spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded. The church was built between 1883 and 1907 and was officially called the Resurrection of Christ Church (a.k.a. The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood ). The construction of the church was almost entirely funded by the Imperial family and thousands of private donators. Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day (V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov and M.A. Vrubel). Interestingly, despite the church’s very obviously Russian aspect, its principle architect, A. Parland, was not even Russian by birth. The church was closed for services in the 1930s, when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed and under restoration for over 30 years and was finally re-opened in 1997 in all its dazzling former glory… NOTE: Translations of the church’s name vary between guidebooks and include The Church of the Savior on Blood, The Resurrection Church and The Church of the Resurrection of Christ.” – Saint-Petersburg.com
“On July 20, 1970 the church was made a branch of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral museum, and eighty percent of the church’s extraordinary restoration was funded by profits from St. Isaac’s. The decades of deterioration and then restoration culminated in the dramatic re-opening of the church in August 1997, when thousands of eager visitors swamped the church. The project was estimated to cost 3.6 million rubles, but ended up costing 4.6 million rubles, mainly from the extravagant collection of mosaics. The more than 7500 sq. meters of mosaics link Alexander II’s murder with the crucifixion.” – Saint-Petersburg.com
“Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg’s other structures. 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.” – Wikipedia
“The Church contains over 7,500 square meters (8,970 square yards) 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 7,700 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 (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church’s construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million rubles 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.” – Wikipedia