Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow


Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
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The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя, Khram Khrista Spasitelya) is a cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks southwest of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 103 metres (338 ft), it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.

The current church is the second to stand on this site. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. It was destroyed in 1931 on the order of the Soviet Leader, Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets to house the country's legislature, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Construction started in 1937 but was halted in 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II. Its steel frame was disassembled the following year, and the Palace was never built. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the current church was rebuilt on the site during 1995-2000.

The original church was the scene of the 1882 world premiere of the 1812 Overture composed by Tchaikovsky, which became internationally famous.


When Napoleon Bonaparte retreated from Moscow, Tsar Alexander I signed a manifest on 25 December 1812 declaring his intention to build a cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

It took some time for work on the projected cathedral to get started. The first finished architectural project, by Aleksandr Lavrentyevich Vitberg, was endorsed by the Tsar in 1817. It was a flamboyant Neoclassical design full of Freemasonic symbolism. Construction work was begun on the Sparrow Hills, the highest point in Moscow, but the site proved unstable.

In the meantime Alexander I was succeeded by his brother Nicholas I. Profoundly Orthodox and patriotic, the new Tsar disliked the Neoclassicism and Freemasonry of the design selected by his predecessor. He commissioned his favorite architect Konstantin Thon to create a new design, taking as his model Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Turkey. Thon's Russian Revival design was approved in 1832. A new site closer to the [[Moscow Kremlinwas chosen by the Tsar in 1837. A convent and church on the site had to be relocated, so the cornerstone of the new church was not laid until 1839.


The cathedral took many decades to build; the scaffolding was not taken down until 1860. Its painting was overseen by Evgraf Sorokin, and thereafter some of the best Russian painters (Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Surikov, V. P. Vereshchagin) continued to embellish the interior for another twenty years. The cathedral was consecrated on 26 May 1883, the day before Alexander III was crowned. Although Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was written with the building's completion in mind, it had its world premiere in a tent outside the unfinished church in August 1882.

The inner sanctum of the church (naos) was ringed by a two-floor gallery, its walls inlaid with rare sorts of marble, granite, and other stones. The ground floor of the gallery was a memorial dedicated to the Russian victory over Napoleon. The walls displayed more than 1,000 square metres of Carrara bianca marble plaques listing major commanders, regiments, and battles of the Patriotic War of 1812 (with the lists of awards and casualties appended). The second floor of the gallery was occupied by church choirs.

The giant dome of the cathedral was gilded using the new technique of gold electroplating, replacing the older and insecure technique of mercury gilding.


The cathedral in the early 20th century

Under the state atheism espoused by the USSR, many "church institution[s] at [the] local, diocesan or national level were systematically destroyed" in the 1921-1928 anti-religious campaign. After the Revolution and, more specifically, the death of Vladimir Lenin, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin chose the prominent site of the cathedral as the proposed site for a monument to socialism known as the Palace of the Soviets. It was to have modernistic, buttressed tiers to support a gigantic statue of Lenin perched on top of a dome with his arm raised in the air.

The economic development in Russia during the 1930s required more funds than the government had at the time. On 24 February 1930, the economic department of the OGPU sent a letter to the Chairman of the Central Executive Committee asking to remove the golden domes of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The letter noted that the dome of the church contained over 20 tons of gold of "excellent quality", and that the cathedral represented an "unnecessary luxury for the Soviet Union, and the withdrawal of the gold would make a great contribution to the industrialization of the country." The People's Commissariat of Finance did not object to this proposal.

On 5 December 1931, by order of Stalin's minister Kaganovich, who was Jewish, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble. It took more than a year to clear the debris from the site. Some of the marble from the walls and marble benches from the cathedral were used in nearby Moscow Metro stations. The original marble high reliefs were preserved and are now on display at the Donskoy Monastery (see the photo). For a long time, these were the only reminders of the largest Orthodox church ever built.

The construction of the Palace of Soviets was interrupted owing to a lack of funds, problems with flooding from the nearby Moskva River, and the outbreak of World War II. The flooded foundation hole remained on the site. Under Nikita Khrushchev, it was transformed into the world's largest open air swimming pool, named Moskva Pool.

Rebuilt cathedral

The rebuilt cathedral, view across the Moscow River.

In February 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission from the Soviet Government to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year. The restorer Aleksey Denisov was called upon to design a replica of extraordinary accuracy. A construction fund was initiated in 1992 and funds began to pour in from ordinary citizens in the autumn of 1994.

In this year the pool was demolished and the cathedral reconstruction commenced. About one million Muscovites donated money for the project. There are still arguments about the reconstruction. First the project was supervised by architect Aleksey Denisov. Soon he was fired from the project because of disagreements with the Mayor’s office.

When construction was well under way, Denisov was replaced by Zurab Tsereteli, who introduced several controversial innovations. For instance, the original marble high reliefs along the walls were replaced by modern bronze ones, which have few, if any, parallels in Russian church architecture. The lower church was consecrated to the Saviour's Transfiguration in 1997, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated on the Transfiguration Day, 19 August 2000.

A footbridge across the river from Balchug was constructed between 21 June 2003 and 3 September 2004 (photo). On the slope of the hill to the right of the cathedral are the monumental statues of Alexander II and Nicholas II. The cathedral square is graced by several chapels, designed in the same style as the cathedral.

In 2000 the cathedral was the venue for the Canonization of the Romanovs when the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family were glorified as saints. On 17 May 2007, the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was signed there. The ROCOR had been separate since the 1920s. The full restoration of communion with the Moscow Patriarchate was celebrated by a Divine Liturgy at which the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexius II and the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Laurus, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy for the first time in history.

The first Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who died of heart failure on 23 April 2007, lay in state in the cathedral prior to his burial in Novodevichy Cemetery.

In 2009 the cathedral was visited by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen), former primate of the Orthodox Church in America, who celebrated the Liturgy with Patriarch Kirill I. Metropolitan Jonah later described the event, saying that even with a congregation of approximately 2,500, the vast church was only half full. About 16 bishops attended the ordination of a new bishop that day. Below the new church is a large hall for church assemblies.

In 2012, five members of the group Pussy Riot staged an uninvited performance in the Cathedral, expressing irreligious expressions of political opinions critical of the government. The members were arrested and jailed.

Photo (27)

DSC07063Christ the Saviour Firework салут 9 May 2005 Moscow Московский Кремль. Москва. Россия.MoscowПамятник Александру Освободителю, Храм Христа Спасителя, м.Кропоткинская. Moscow, RussiaБассейн Москва 1969Moskva Hram Hrista Spasitelja + Moscow, Temple of Christ the SaviourХрам Христа СнасителяПанорама Центра МосквыХрам Христа Спасителя /Cathedral of Christ the Saviour/Москва меняется (июль 2006 года)Roofs of Ostojenkaалександр IIРайон станции метро "Кропоткинская".Район станции метро "Кропоткинская".Cathedral of Christ the SaviourCathedral of Christ the SaviorМосква́ / Moskau (Россия / Russia)Район станции метро "Кропоткинская".Район станции метро "Кропоткинская".г. Москва, храм Христа Спасителя..Храм Христа СпасителяChurch of the Christ of the Savior. MoscowКолокольня Храма Христа СпасителяРайон станции метро "Кропоткинская".Catedral ortodoxa de Cristo Salvador . Moscú. Rusia.

Street view

Yandex panorama


All days Monday at 13:00-17:00, except Monday at 10:00-17:00


17.10.2016 Alina Pechenkina
This Church has become a meeting place with God, but just a Museum with a strict dress code and rude staff. Was friends with foreigners as a translator.Not allowed, because the young man was in jodhpurs( no shorts, no sweatpants). Despite the fact that the heat +35, in jeans resemble. Not allowed, and even laughed after the guard. Explained to them, with shame to fail. Shame
11.10.2016 Stanislav
The most elite Park in Moscow.
01.10.2016 Dasha
Definitely go inside if you have the chance! Beautiful!
11.09.2016 Aleksandr
The main Temple of Russia, but it would be easier rules of entry and inspection made, it would be remarkable
04.09.2016 Lyudmila Vinyukova
Very beautiful and interesting temple! The cultural heritage of Russia!
30.08.2016 Evgeniy Ostrovskiy
The main temple of the country and that's it. The outside looks great, inside, of course, not lyrically but there is a highlight in the scale. More for tourists than for believers.
23.08.2016 Evgeniya
Insanely beautiful
20.08.2016 Pavel Kostromin
Not really. To get inside need to be fully clothed, shorts are not allowed, and something to cover your legs do not give. The temple was beautiful only on the outside, inside is nothing to do, and the staff (security) is too boorish and arrogant
08.08.2016 Traveller Hints
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow was built in consideration of God’s help and protection during the difficult times for Russia - the Patriotic War with Napoleon in 1812. It is considered to be a monument to Russian people for their courage and heroism. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is the largest temple of the Russian Orthodox Church. It can accommodate as many as 10000 people.
13.07.2016 Roman Soplenkov
Very beautiful Temple. Inside was never. A lot of people constantly. I think that tourists need to visit this place.
09.07.2016 Aaron Thai
Very majestic architecture of the Orthodox Church. Excellent tourists location and near there has an excellent Italian restaurant.
29.06.2016 Artem
The place turned rather in a business center rather than in the heart of the spiritual Russia.
21.06.2016 M
Love this great cathedral, it is beautiful and huge. It also has a gr8 views of the city skyline. Make sure you walk over the bridge and check out the other side. I didn't go inside. The garden looks really nice too.
16.06.2016 Inna Savenkova
We were very impressed. The beauty and grandeur, I want to go back.For the soul has touched the names of the warriors who participated in the war of 1812,we ought to remember them. Happened to be in the service, which was led by Patriarch Kirill, for the first time plunged into this world,came out of the temple with a light heart.
10.06.2016 Vitaliy Belyovtsev
A neat and beautiful Church, some of which want to wander and enjoy the tranquility.
15.05.2016 Wanna Ursiripant
Even I'm a Buddhist but I came here for faithful and respectful. There's very peaceful inside, an interior decoration is great. Fresco on dome and walls are gorgeous with their owns. This is a Must in Moscow.
12.05.2016 I Inerren
Huge, monumental, beautiful, impressive... Probably the law of the main Cathedral.... But really gives some novelty. There's still the feeling zasevshih in the centuries of time... But still, very cool
09.05.2016 Natasha
Spacious, came in Procession, there were many foreigners, illuminated with Holy water, the congregation venerated the cross, the tourists looked on with open mouths
08.05.2016 Anton
Very beautiful temple. Very sorry that it is impossible to photograph inside.
29.04.2016 Danilo Rodrigues Jr.
If you think the outside is majestic, go inside. It's a very beautiful and peaceful place.
21.04.2016 Maksim Ulitin
nice, beautiful Church that we attend. Yes, I am atheist and I don't really care what religion needs, but the Church is beautiful and spent on its restoration a lot of taxpayers ' money
15.04.2016 Simon Long
Stunning and incredibly ornate. Particularly the main interior.
08.04.2016 Georgiy Slinkin
Honest about anything. Give Zurab Tsereteli such a large-scale work was impossible. The outside looks like a toy, inside the same. Look at the way he was supposed to look originally. I'm talking about the project of Vitenberga. That's really cool. It is especially annoying when you consider how much it cost...
26.03.2016 Liang Xiao Long
Super amazing. Grand cathedral and impressive onside decoration !!
15.03.2016 Aleksandr
If you perceive it as a large Museum, then everything is fine-frame at the entrance and the guards on the walls. But in order to pray, it is better to go to a different Church-for example,in a new monastery nearby.
05.02.2016 Chichenev Viktor
A huge and beautiful temple! And from the bridge You can enjoy a splendid view of the Kremlin!
27.01.2016 Alexei Melnikov
The main temple of Russia. Very beautiful on the outside and majestic on the inside. This temple is important for Russia but is constantly better to visit the smaller temples)))
11.01.2016 Michal Kolodziejczyk
This is a must see when in Moscow. Stalin times saw a destruction of the original but it was later rebuilt.
06.01.2016 The Suleyman
A very impressive structure.
31.12.2015 Pasquale Perozzino
One of the most impressive cathedral in Moscow. Both the exterior and the interior are worth to be seen. During the night is particularly suggestive
20.12.2015 Kirk Dedenbach
The reconstructed church is beautiful, but I would have liked to seen the original before it was destroyed by the Communists. There was no photography allowed inside when we visited, but there was a small shop where you could purchase books of the history and photos of the church.
31.08.2015 Dmitry Ovchinnikov
PU assurances editions Neskuchny garden (ROC MP) is the municipal property, and the clergy on him onwhat rights (sic) don't have. Controversial in artistic terms, but stunning the audience vneshny kind, surpassing every mind internal finish in the box toy got - coupled with the massive (stone) elements of the interior and memorial galleries forced to go with an open mouth. A magnificent temple. It is a pity that its current inhabitants have forgotten the grandeur of conception - Church Savka has stood in the books part of the marble slabs with the names and the chronicle, in the cavern of the "chronicle" of the same boards are mobile scaffolding... But in conception and in execution it is an indescribable, all need to go...
12.08.2015 mhs
It's got quite a long story; built in 44 years then destroyed completely; again rebuilt 8n five years just like the original one.
10.07.2015 Olga Segodina
Remarkably,sensationally,stunningly beautiful and magnificent temple of God. Inthis temple oschuschaesch the greatness and power of God. Feel the fear of God (in a good sense, i.e. the desire to repent of their sins), and, however, he is very bright and joyful, filled with light. I almost every time when I go to Moscow on business,I try to come here to pray.Even in the lower Church there is a wonderful beauty icon of the virgin,decorated with pearls, all so bright, pink-pearl, pray to her for children and family always. I love the venue there.Was at the exhibition of Dionisy's frescoes and icons,extremely elaborately embroidered with the way,the show is free. And who sees only the material side, I'm appalled.Bless your soul, whether you are perfect to judge the guards for the severity of (their concern is your safety)and priests because there is a charge for certain services?most likely,this money on orphans, orphanages, the hungry,the homeless and so on. You served the poor and needy? P. S. don't blame anyone,sorry if I offended you.
04.05.2015 Ilker
Quite spectacular, a beautiful view on the bridge on the river side of the Kremlin. Entry to the church is free.
17.04.2015 Sofi
How're walking, each time falling in love ❤it's amazing
06.04.2015 The Suleyman
Quite impressive cathedral. At mass on Sunday I came across was interesting.
09.03.2015 Mariya
Is there inside the temple, another Church (of the ascension), down on the minus first floor (follow the signs in the hall of the Cathedral is the Church benches)
26.02.2015 Andrey
A magnificent temple! But sometimes it is problem to get...
10.02.2015 Lika
Managed to latch on to one of the most powerful miracle-working icons of the Mother of God "Hodegetria", the power of the icon, standing as the magnet. Grace is incredible. People on their knees in front of her stood.?
21.01.2015 Viacheslav
Inlet total control with check bags in the basement there is a Church and an interesting exhibition. No foto, no mobile, no WC.
01.01.2015 Kirill
The beautiful temple. I think believers don't need comments... Leave all the bad behind.
18.12.2014 Jay
Beautiful, peaceful, interesting design, must visit the lower floor
02.12.2014 Sveti
By it go past? hours 19.00 beats bell. The gold on the domes coming off. And don't forget to see the list of sponsors, whose names are immortalized on a granite boards of the Church.
22.11.2014 Sofi
Beauty! When repair is no, really.
15.11.2014 Viktor
A very large concert hall, good acoustics
04.11.2014 Taras
Very beautiful inside! And, you can descend the spiral staircase down. When I was there, the service was very impressive!
31.10.2014 Paul
One of the largest and most beautiful churches in Moscow! You can go inside and tour the observation deck on the roof of the temple - the center of the capital - excellent!
27.10.2014 Tanya
A Beautiful Temple! Beautiful place! You can wander through the public gardens, bridges. For photo shoots it)
25.10.2014 IGGY=
large beautiful Church. quiet. near night club..;)


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