Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour or Khram Khrista Spasitelya is a Church in Moscow, Russia, on the bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks west of the Kremlin. It is the tallest Eastern Orthodox church.
When Napoleon retreated from Moscow, Tsar 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. 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.
In February of 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 gave way to the modern bronze ones, which have few, if any, parallels in Russian church architecture. The lower church was consecrated to the Saviour's Transfiguration in 1996, 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. 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 itself.
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