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The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. The name refers to the blood of the assassinated Alexander II of Russia, who was mortally wounded on that site on March 13, 1881.

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907.
The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. As the tsar's carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. Another conspirator took the chance to explode another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.

It was decided that the section of the street where the assassination took place was to be enclosed within the walls of a church. Inside, a shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander's death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones. Amid such rich decoration, the simple cobblestones on which the tsar's blood was spilled and which are exposed in the floor of the shrine provide a striking contrast.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by hostile Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary storage site for the corpses of those who died both in combat and of starvation and illness. It suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Savior on Potatoes.

The church was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration.

(extracts of Wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by Paul Bulteel (pauloog) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1416 W: 79 N: 1894] (11747)
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