Cathedral of Christ the Savior
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior that we can now see is a replica of the Cathedral of the same name that had been destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1931.Alexander II had ordered its construction so as to commemorate the victory on Napoleon’s troops in 1812.
Konstantin Ton, architect of the Armory Chamber in Kremlin, was selected to design it. Construction started in 1839 and was only completed 44 years later. It was consecrated in May 1883 under Alexander III.
Built in a Russian-Byzantin style, it had five golden domes hosting a great central bell tower and four smaller side steeples. The white marble walls were decorated with high reliefs dedicated to the orthodox religion and low reliefs depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Red granite from Finland had been used for the front steps. Inside there was a sanctuary a superior gallery and an ambulatory. The greatest painters of the time had been hired. Marble from Italy and Russian stones completed the decoration. Dedicated to the 1812 patriotic war, it hosted many trophies and the one hundred seventy-seven marble panels in its corridor recounted its main events.
On December 5, 1931, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was demolished. However the megalomaniac project of building a Soviets Palace instead never came through. In 1960 a swimming-pool was dug on this site. It was 130 meters long and 6 meters deep at its maximum. The pool was destroyed in 1994 on Yeltsine’s initiative. In 1990, the Holy Synod had asked for the reconstruction of the Cathedral.
The first stone of the new Cathedral of Christ the Savior was set in 1995 and five years later it was already completed. It was consecrated on August 19th, 2000 by Patriarch Alexis II.
The Cathedral was not reconstructed exactly the way it was before: it now hosts in its basement a museum retracing its story, the high reliefs on the facades are not marble anymore nut bronze and a panoramic terrace was added on the level of the bell towers.