Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is an Orthodox memorial cathedral of the 19th century and a rare example of the "Russian style" in the architecture of St. Petersburg.

The cathedral is built on the place of the terrorist attack on the Russian Emperor Alexander II “the Liberator”, who abolished serfdom in Russia in 1861. The tragic event happened on March 1st, 1881, when the terrorist Ignatius Grinevitsky thrown a bomb and mortally wounded the Emperor.

The attempt took place in the very center of the city, on the Catherine’s Canal (now the Griboedov Canal). The Emperor lost his both legs and almost two hours later he died of blood loss in the Winter Palace.

On the next day after the tragedy, it was decided to build a memorial church on the site of the assassination attempt. Soon the place was fenced and a temporary chapel was constructed.

They announced a contest for the best project of the future church. The ruling emperor Alexander III did not approve of any of the proposed projects. The Tsar wished the memorial temple to be designed in the “Russian style”, just like Moscow churches of the 17th century. Therefore, the second competition was announced, and in 30 days they had a winner - Alfred Parland - a Russian architect of Scottish origin. He developed his project together with the Farther Superior of the Trinity-Sergius monastery.

The construction was started on October 6, 1883. In order to commemorate the event, the memorial medal was made, and it was placed at the base of the altar of the future church.

Construction lasted for 24 years.

Parland rejected the traditional Saint-Petersburg practice to use pile foundations and instead of it he used concrete pad foundation.

According to the original project the spot of the assassination attempted was to be preserved inside the future church. In other words, the church was to be built around the place of the assassination. It was quite a difficult task to fulfill, because Alexander II had been standing right at the railing of the embankment, so partly the church was to be located on the water.

4 606 756 rubles were spent on the construction of this magnificent cathedral – a lot of money in those days. Most of the money was paid from the state treasury, though some donations were made by the Royal family, different institutions and common people.

The church was consecrated in 1907 in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, though nowadays it is more famous as the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. From the very beginning, the cathedral had the status of a memorial church and it was under full state support. Daily services were held in the temple as well as a memorial service in honor of the Emperor Alexander II.

There are 9 domes on the roof of the cathedral, some of them are gilded, and some are covered with enamel. The height of the cathedral is 81 meters. It is richly decorated with marble of different kinds and semiprecious stones from Russia and other countries.

The cathedral boasts elaborate interior. The floor is paved with multi-colored Italian marble from Genoa, and consists of 45 mosaic "carpets" with a plate thickness of 0.5 - 1 cm. The walls are decorated with mosaics which depict scenes from the Bible. The total area of the mosaic is 7000 square meters.

In order to select the best mosaic workshop, a contest was announced. There were a lot of participants, including the Russian Academy of Arts, the German company “Pull and Wagner”, the Italian firms “Venetian Workshop Antonio Salviati” and “Societa Mussiva”, as well as St. Petersburg workshop of the Frolov brothers. It was this workshop that was declared the winner in 1896. The Frolov brothers’ method of performing the mosaic was the cheapest and fastest one, and the sample of their mosaic showed the best result in testing in St. Petersburg climate.

After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 the property of the church was nationalized. It became an ordinary parish church. In 1920 the church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood took over the role of cathedral church of the Petrograd Eparchy. In those days it was given to the representatives of a new reformed branch of the Orthodox Church - "obnovlentsi" – who were loyal to the Soviet government.

In 1930, the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood was closed. For a short time, it hosted an exhibition dedicated to the history of the revolutionary movement in Russia, glorifying murderers of Alexander II. And in 1934, it was decided to destroy the cathedral. It was announced that the church "did not represent historical and artistic value." The cathedral was to be blown up in 1941, until that time it was used as a warehouse and a vegetable store. The destruction of the cathedral did not take place, because in 1941 the Great Patriotic War began.

During the Siege of Leningrad, a morgue was located in the cathedral. The building was badly damaged by damp climate and constant bombing. Just in 1961 it was discovered that a high-explosive shell had hit the main dome during the War, but it did not explode.

In 1968 the Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood was recognized as a monument of historical and artistic heritage, and the long years of restoration began. In 1997, the cathedral was first opened to visitors. Currently, the Cathedral belongs to the museum complex "St. Isaac's Cathedral." There are guided tours in it, though Orthodox services are held on Sundays and on significant Orthodox holidays.

Opening hours:

The Museum "Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood" is open from 10:30 to 18:00. Day off – Wednesday.

Museum evening programs - from 18:00 to 22:30 (from May 1 to September 30, the day off is Wednesday).

Ticket offices and the admission of visitors stops 30 minutes before the closure of museum objects.

Chapel Museum (chapel of the Museum of the Savior on Spilled Blood) is open from 10:00 to 18:00 (daily from May 1 to September 30; day off from October 1 to April 30 - the second Wednesday of the month)

Ticket offices and the admission of visitors stops 30 minutes before the closure of museum objects.

St. Petersburg 4-Day Break

St. Petersburg 4-Day Break

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