Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood - History and Facts | History Hit

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Palace District, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is a stunningly colourful and ornate nineteenth century church in St Petersburg, Russia.

Image Credit: dimbar76 / Shutterstock

About Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of St Petersburg’s most impressive churches. With multi-coloured onion domes reminiscent of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is a breath-taking sight both outside and within its ornately decorated walls.

History of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Officially called the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, initial construction on the church began in 1883, when Emperor Alexander III commissioned it to commemorate his father, Alexander II. Alexander II was actually assassinated on the site where the church was built in 1881: anarchists bombed his carriage, and he died hours later from his injuries, thus lending the Russian Orthodox cathedral its alternative name referring to spilled blood.

Completed in 1907 during the reign of Nicholas II – and running an estimated 1 million roubles over budget – The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is an incredible mixture of colours and design. Unlike most of the buildings in St Petersburg, it is not built in a Baroque or neoclassical style, but rather a more medieval Russian one. Inside, the Church Of The Saviour On Spilled Blood is densely adorned with 7000 square metres of vivid mosaics created by world famous Russian artists such as Mikhail Vrubel and Viktor Vasnetsov.

The church was looted and damaged quite severely during the Russian Revolution of 1917: the new Soviet Government closed the church to the public in 1932. During the Secodn World War, it was reopened to be used as a morgue throughout the Siege of Leningrad, and was later used as a storehouse for potatoes. Evocative photos show the land surrounding the church being used as a vegetable garden during the war. During this period, some nicknamed it the Saviour on Potatoes. 

It was only in the 1970s that the church was reopened and in 1997, after 27 years of renovation, that it was returned to its former glory. The church has never been reconsecrated, meaning it is effectively simply a mosaic museum.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood today

Today, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of St Petersburg’s most popular tourist attractions and rightly so: the ornate mosaics are truly remarkable and photographs will never do them justice. Unsurprisingly, it can get very busy, so go later in the afternoon if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds. Expect to spend an hour or two here enjoying the fabulous interiors. Closed Wednesdays.

Getting to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

The church is located at the west end of the Mikhailovsky Garden: it’s hard to miss. The nearest underground station is Nevsky Prospekt, on Blue Line 2: it’s a 5 minute walk north along the canal to reach the church itself. If you want to approach the church in its full majesty, come through the Mikhailovsky Gardens, from the entrance on Sadovaya Street.

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