Also known as the Church on Spilt Blood and officially the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is among the major tourist attractions in Russia at St. Petersburg. It is so named because of the blood of Tsar Alexander II of Russia who was fatally slain in 1881 on the location of the sacred church. Originally built in tradition Russian style and heavily funded by the imperial members and private donors, the Church is situated along the Griboedov canal and is famous for its onion domes and rich mosaics.
Alexander II was brutally wounded at this site due to the bombing on his royal carriage by some revolutionaries. He actually died after few hours at his Winter Palace. So, his son,
Alexander III took the decision to build a church in his father’s memory whose foundation was laid in 1883 under his supervision. However, its progress was on a very slow scale that could only be completed in 1907 during the reign of Nicholas II.
A temporary shrine existed on the wounded site in the beginning. Then, it was resolute to enclose the part of the street where assassination happened in the walls of a church. Due to this, that area of the embankment was lengthened up to the canal so that the shrine could fit and that enough space would be there on the exterior wall for a memorial. A detailed shrine was built on the exact location of assassination adorned with topaz, lazurite, and some more semi-precious stones. In contrast to this, the shrine’s floor exposed the cobblestones on which the blood was spilled.
Due to no place in the design plans, there was no baptisms, funeral services, weddings, or other traditional church services held in the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Only weekly requiems for Alexander II and discourses were held that themselves were enough to draw countless numbers of devotees.
This Cathedral is unique as compared to other such edifices in St. Petersburg in the sense that the city exhibits Baroque and Neoclassical styles, while the Cathedral holds the medieval Russian architecture. Further, it looks similar to the St. Basils Cathedral of Moscow.
The first site to behold in the church is its special place of the elaborate shrine on the spot where Alexander II was wounded in the interior. The base of the shrine comprises of the four columns of gray violet jasper. Further, small rectangular columns join the stone shelter. A frieze, cornice, and stone pediment flanked by the jasper vases support the columns. There are also rich mosaics portraying the patron saint of the Romanov family.
Another attraction is its brilliantly produced iconic mosaic collection. Much of these icons were done in the way of academic painting, modern style, and Byzantine painting. The walls and ceilings exhibit these mosaics that are mostly the biblical scenes or figures with superb
patterned borders. Among all the icons, the icon of St. Alexander Nevsky made by Nesterov’s design is the large one. Other attractive icons are that of the Mother of God with Child and the Savior painted as per the Vasnetsov’s design. Do not miss to see the mosaic panel named Pantokrator (Almighty) wherein Lord Jesus Christ is showering a blessing via his right hand and is holding the gospels in left hand. This panel is in the podium of the middle cupola painted as per the Kharlamov’s design.
The visiting hours are summer
10 am to 8 pm, winter: 11 am to 6 pm, except for Wednesdays when it remains closed.
Behold the view of the church from Nevsky Prospekt, which is really captivating.