Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
This grandiose collection of golden domes is difficult to miss. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has a tumultuous history, and this version is in fact a replica – Stalin tore the first one down to build a palace.The original was commissioned by Tsar Alexander 1 in 1812 after victory against Napoleon, but was not finally finished until some 45 years later, when Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ was debuted at the opening.
rnOn 5 December 1931 the main symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church was dynamited and reduced to rubble by Stalin, in order to build the 300m tall ‘House of Soviets’, which would have been topped with a statue of Lenin. It was never built – the foundations were not strong enough – so it was then transformed into an enormous public swimming pool.
rnAt the fall of the Soviet regime, Mayor Luzhkov started rebuilding the cathedral by popular request, and over $200 million of public money was spent, causing a huge scandal, but at least it put the ‘last nail’ in Stalin’s coffin.
rnThe gaudy interior is gleaming with gold and marble and is Russia’s largest and most lavish church, holding up to 15,000 people. Worth a look, for the sheer spectacle and a reminder of what can be achieved in Moscow when politics and economics come together.