Friday, September 18, 2015
Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
This Church in St Petersburg, Russia was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. It should not to be confused with the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, located in the city of Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918) and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.
During World War II, the church was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of “Savior on Potatoes.” It suffered significant damage during the Siege of Leningrad and after the war, it was used as a warehouse for a nearby opera theatre.
In July 1970, management of the church passed to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the cathedral were ploughed back into restoring the church.
The church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The section of street where the assassination took place was enclosed within the walls of the church, and part of the canal filled to allow the street to pass around the building.
Architecturally, the church is out of place in St. Petersburg. The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood is more in line with medieval Russian architecture. It intentionally resembles the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day – including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel – but the church’s chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known. An elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander’s death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones.