23 March 2005

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

After Napoleon's defeat in 1812 Tsar Alexander I ordered that a new church be built in Moscow to commemorate the Russian victory over the French emperor's armies. The cornerstone was laid in 1839 and the completed building was dedicated in 1883, the year that Alexander III was crowned tsar. The story of the church is told at the webpages of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Valery Kiselev

The original cathedral

In 1931 the church was ordered demolished by Joseph Stalin. The site of the building was subsequently occupied by a heated outdoor municipal swimming pool. In my personal library I have a book, Moscow and Leningrad Observed, published in 1975, containing a photograph of this swimming pool and indicating that a church had once stood here.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communist rule, a decision was made to rebuild the church according to the original plans and on the original site. This was begun in 1995 and completed five years later in 2000. Judging from the following photograph, it is difficult to tell the difference between the two buildings:

Russian Orthodox Church

The rebuilt cathedral

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the seat of the Patriarch of Moscow, who, quite appropriately, writes of the "miracle of the resurrection of the Cathedral."

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