The Orthodox Russian cathedral The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood towers into the skyline of the Russian city of St. Petersburg along the Griboedov Canal. The ‘Blood’ in the name of the church refers to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as that the blood of Tsar Alexander II who was killed on the site. The church was designed by Alfred Alexandrovich Parland and is inspired by the St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and the Yaroslavi churches of the 17th century. The architectural style of the cathedral is reminiscent of the medieval Russian architecture a far cry from the Baroque and Neoclassical architecture of the other buildings of the city.
The history of the cathedral dates back to 1881 when the Tsar Alexander II was assassinated while his carriage passed along the canal. A temporary shrine was erected at the exact spot of the assassination and the canal was shortened so that the road that the Tsar took on the fateful day could be included in the church. On the orders of the next Tsar Alexander III the construction started in 1883 but took almost 24 years to complete.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 took its toll on the church and was ransacked and looted before being closed down by the government in 1930s. During the siege of Leningard by the Nazis, the cathedral was used as a morgue while after the war it was unbelievably used as a warehouse storing potatoes which got the cathedral its caustic name – Savior on Potatoes. The church reopened for the public in 1997 after going a reconstruction for about 27 years being funded by the proceeds of St. Issac’s Cathedral.
When you visit the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood the beautiful mosaics on the interior and exterior of the cathedral catch your eye. These were designed by the most prominent artists of the period. You will be surprised to know that the cathedral has never been used as a place of public worship and the only services that have been held are panikhidas or memorial services. The exact spot where the Tsar was assassinated has been adorned with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious gems.
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