The Copy-Cat Cathedral

DSC_0164You can see the similarity as you admire the domes flashing in their multi-coloured paints. The Cathedral of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, or the Church of Resurrection was opened in 1907 after being built in memory of Tsar Alexander II. It echoes the style of St. Basils, Russia’s most famous Cathedral.Of course, there are also differences. The red brick base of St Basil’s appears shorter, squatter, than the grey brick height of the Church of Resurrection. But the spinning-top domes and the bright colours which make the church look like a cluster of buildings or bright lollipops has been copied quite obviously. This was reportedly the intention of the architect, Alfred Parland, who in some ways created a most quintessential Russian church.

DSC_0153In my post about St. Basil’s (actually St. Vasily’s), I noted that the iconic Cathedral was notably different from traditional Russian churches because of its small cramped rooms, passageways, and individual shrines to different saints. Most Russian churches, in contrast, have large open spaces inside, generally taller than wide, adorned with long murals and bright colours. The newly re-build Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is an overwhelming testament to this. Thus, the symbol of Russia is not at all representative of the general architectural style of the orthodox church.

When designing the Church of Resurrection, Parland managed to pair this traditional tall building style with the pomp and extravagance and excitement of the coloured domes of St. Basils. On the outside the church is multifaceted, striking and different from all sides, like an oversized sculpture. From the inside, the bright mosaics and classic portrayals of religious saints and stories impress any viewer.

DSC_0136This combination means that the Church is possibly St. Petersburg’s most famous church, and it stands out amongst the European architecture, somewhat out of place. Like St. Basils, the Cathedral survived the reign of the Communists, and was used as a representation of the ‘old’ or ‘backward’ Russia. The Church was preserved as a form of political statement- a representation of the large sums of money that the Russian Royals were willing to spend on sentimental memories, instead of investing into the population. This was especially poignant because there had never been a formal religious ceremony in the building- it served instead as a giant memorial to the dead Tsar.  Eventually, the Church was closed and used as a warehouse until the fall of the Soviet Union, and has now been refurbished and opened as a museum.

Lots more historical information is available here.

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