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The Birth, Destruction and Resurrection of a Russian Cathedral

Martine Self

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The extraordinary tale of an enormous Russian cathedral -- birth, destruction and resurrection.

New Cathedral in Moscow

New Cathedral in Moscow

What can you say about a cathedral that took 40 years to build, was demolished on the whim of one man, who then planned to replace it by building the tallest building in the world, but instead it became the world's largest open air swimming pool and then was rebuilt almost exactly as it first was built in the space of five years? In most other countries, the tale would defy belief, but in Russia, somehow it's easier to understand.

Some see its story as an allegorical tale mirroring the Birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ as well as the torment, endurance and rebirth of the Russian state itself.

The departure of Napoleon's invading forces and the fortitude and sacrifice of the Russian people inspired the then Tsar, Alexander I to sign a manifesto on Christmas Day, 1812, proclaiming the building of an enormous cathedral to celebrate Russia's liberation.

Many years passed before his good intentions were realized. Work first began in 1817 at Sparrow Hills, but was abandoned in favour of its present site, next to the Moscow River on a piece of land paradoxically known as 'Devil's Hill'. The beautiful Alekseevsky Convent which already stood on the site, was demolished by order of the tsar and relocated, but not before the Abbess apparently cursed the ground and foretold that no building built there would stand for any lengthy period of time.

Read the entire article on the American Chronicle website (new window will open).

Posted: 01-Mar-06



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