Friday, August 19, 2011
Russia - Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
Sent by Anya, a postcrosser from Moscow, Russia.
This is from Wikipedia : The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя) is a Church in Moscow, Russia, on the bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks west of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 105 metres (344 ft), it is the tallest Orthodox church in the world.
When Napoleon Bonaparte retreated from Moscow, Emperor Alexander I signed a manifest, 25 December 1812, declaring his intention to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour "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 actual work on the projected cathedral to get started. The first finished architectural project, by Aleksandr Lavrentyevich Vitberg, was endorsed by Alexander I 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 insecure.
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 project selected by his brother. He commissioned his favourite architect Konstantin Thon to create a new design, taking as his model Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Turkey. Thon's Neo-Byzantine design was approved in 1832, and a new site, closer to the Moscow Kremlin, was chosen by the Tsar in 1837. A convent and church on the site had to be relocated, so that the cornerstone was not laid until 1839.
The Cathedral took many years to build and did not emerge from its scaffolding until 1860. Some of the best Russian painters (Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Surikov, Vasily Vereshchagin) continued to embellish the interior for another twenty years. The Cathedral was consecrated on the very day Alexander III was crowned, 26 May 1883. A year earlier, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted there.
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 precious 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 meters 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 for the first time in history was gilded using the technique of gold electroplating, replacing the older and insecure technique of mercury gilding.