Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
History and museums
Kazan Cathedral or Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor (Russian: Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р), also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia.
The construction was started in 1801 and continued for ten years while being supervised by Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov. Upon its completion in 1811, the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos, which was disassembled when the Kazan Cathedral was consecrated.
It was modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Some art historians assert that Emperor Paul intended to build a similar church on the other side of Nevsky Prospect that would mirror the Kazan Cathedral but his plans failed to materialize. Although the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the plans to create a replica of a Catholic basilica in Russia's then capital, several courtiers supported Voronikhin's Empire Style design.
After Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, and the commander-in-chief Mikhail Kutuzov asked Our Lady of Kazan for help, the church's purpose was to be altered. The Patriotic War over, the cathedral was perceived primarily as a memorial to the Russian victory against Napoleon. Kutuzov himself was interred in the cathedral in 1813; and Alexander Pushkin wrote celebrated lines meditating over his sepulchre. In 1815, keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses were brought by the victorious Russian army from Europe and placed in the cathedral's sacristy. In 1837, Boris Orlovsky designed two bronze statues of Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly in front of the cathedral.
In 1876, the Kazan demonstration, the first political demonstration in Russia, took place in front of the church. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the cathedral was closed. In 1932 it was reopened as the pro-Marxist "Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism." Services were resumed in 1992, and four years later the cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Now it is the mother cathedral of the metropolis of St. Petersburg.
The cathedral's interior, with its numerous columns, echoes the exterior colonnade and is reminiscent of a palatial hall, being 69 metres in length and 62 metres in height. The interior features numerous sculptures and icons created by the best Russian artists of the day. A wrought iron grille separating the cathedral from a small square behind it is sometimes cited as one of the finest ever created.
The cathedral's huge bronze doors are one of three copies of the original doors of the Baptistry in Florence, Italy (the other two are in San Francisco and on the Baptistry itself).
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