2019-02-13 / Front Page

Off the Beaten Trail:

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
By Catherine Tsounis

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. A great Love story and political violence surrounds The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, one of the main sights of Saint Petersburg, Russia. “We almost had our first  Russian born Tsarina,” said our guide. “Emperor Alexander II’s assassination ended this.”

The day we visited the Church on Spilled Blood, it was closed. The design is incredibly beautiful. It is famous for the assassination of Emperor (Tsar) Alexander II in March 1881. Our guide told us an incredible love story. “Tsar Alexander II was in love with a teenage Russian Aristocratic woman,” she said. “He had two children with her. Tsar Alexander II was planning to marry her. But, he was assassinated suddenly.”

The royal family and private donors raised funds to build a church on the spot of the assassination. Their love story inspired me to read more of the great love of Tsar Alexander II with his young mistress, Catherine ‘Katya’ Dolgorukaya.

“This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II wasChurch of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of Russia's disastrous defeat in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated several reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost enslaved to their owners) from their ties to their masters and undertook a rigorous program of military, judicial and urban reforms, never attempted in Russia. However, during the second half of his reign Alexander II grew wary of the dangers of his system of reforms, having only barely survived a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage.”1

“The construction of the church was almost entirely funded by the Imperial family and thousands of private donators. Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day (V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov and M.A. Vrubel).

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.Interestingly, despite the church's very obviously Russian aspect, its principle architect, A. Parland, was not even Russian by birth. The church was closed for services in the 1930s, when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed and under restoration for over 30 years and was finally re-opened in 1997 in all its dazzling former glory. The view of the church from Nevsky Prospekt is absolutely breathtaking.”2  I was impressed with the mosaic at the entrance of the Resurrection of Christ, a traditional Byzantine mosaic. The architecture is Medieval Russian with the Russian domes that tourists find fascinating. I am sorry we were unable to see the church’s famous mosaics.



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