The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was built in the 19th century for the money collected by ordinary people all over the country. It was devoted to the victory of the Russian army over Napoleon’s troops in the Patriotic War of 1812.
Initially, it was planned to build the cathedral on the Vorobyovy Hills. Emperor Alexander I approved the project of A. Vitberg. Russian artist and mystic wanted to erect three temples on the spot. The first one was to be built underground and have the form of a coffin, symbolizing and death. The second temple, as the symbol of the soul was to appear in the form of a cross above the first one. The foundations of the cathedral were laid in 1817, but the project was not carried out.
In 1839 the construction work started in another place chosen by Emperor Nicholas I. The tsar ordered famous Russian architect Konstantin Ton to build the cathedral at the bank of the Moskva river. The style created by Konstantin was called “Russian-Byzantine”. It was an imposing structure: white-stone building, which could house more than 10,000 people, with five traditional domes. The golden cupolas of the cathedral were clearly seen from everywhere in Moscow.
Many prominent Russian sculptors and painters decorated the interior of the cathedral.
The construction work was finished in 1883, under Alexander III.
In the late 20s, Bolsheviks searched for a place to build a gigantic “Palace of Soviets”. They removed the marble plates, statues and other valuables from the cathedral. A 100-meter-high statue of Lenin was to crown the building. It was to become the tallest building in the world. Taller than the Eiffel Tower (300 m) in Paris, and even the Empire State building (381 m) in New York! World War II destroyed the plans of building the palace. A swimming pool was built there in the late 60s.
But the cathedral remained in the hearts of millions of Russians, symbolizing the spirit of the nation and deep respect for all who died for Russia.
On the 7th of January, 1995, the foundations of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour were laid in Moscow. The cathedral was finished in 1997, when Moscow celebrated its 850th anniversary.