If you walk slowly along the embankment of the Griboedov canal towards the Nevsky prospect, you will soon see the counterpart of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome – the Kazan Cathedral.
The Cathedral looks fascinating due to its monumentality on the outside and the amazing beauty inside. The Kazan Cathedral was built and named in honor of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, which Is placed inside the temple and is considered to be one of the most revered icons in Russia. So the queue of people wishing to touch the shrine is a common thing here.
The Cathedral was created by the talented Russian architect, the former serf, Andrey Voronikhin. According to a legend he created the design of the cathedral at will of emperor Paul I, who said, “I want a cathedral in Saint Petersburg that will comprise a bit of St. Peter’s Cathedral and a bit of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.”
However, the construction works on the site of the old Kazan church began after the murder of the emperor. Voronikhin confronted a difficult task. Construction of the new cathedral was planned on the section of the Nevsky Prospect which extended from the West to the East. In orthodox churches the altar should always face East and the main facade with the entrance should face West, though Nevsky Prospect was on the North side of the future temple. Voronikhin found an elegant solution — side facade was visually turned into the main facade by building a semicircular colonnade, which unfolded toward the main alley of the city. Grand 96 columns in four rows! This solution not only helped to avoid violation of basic rules of the construction of an orthodox church, but retained the symmetry and harmony of the cathedral with Nevsky Prospect and everything that surrounded this piece of architectural art.
“After the defeat of Napoleon’s army by Kutuzov, military banners and keys of the French fortresses were brought here and placed on the walls of the cathedral”
After the defeat of Napoleon’s army by Kutuzov, military banners and keys of the French fortresses were brought here and placed on the walls of the cathedral. Nowadays most of the trophies are kept in the Historical Museum in Moscow and the Kazan Cathedral keeps only six trophy banners and keys in twenty-six bundles beside the tomb of field marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who was buried in the North aisle of the Cathedral in 1813. And in 1837 the monuments of the 1812 war heroes – Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly – were erected on the square in front of the Cathedral .
Today the Kazan Cathedral is an operating church with daily divine service and free admission. The Cathedral is always crowded and there is a little light inside, the absence of which creates a feeling of tranquility when you are in the temple.
Inside the temple is divided by granite columns to three so-called hall-corridors, whose ceilings are decorated with painting of flowers, and on the floor there is a mosaic of the Karelian marble in pink and grey shades.
No doubts that the Kazan Cathedral alongside with the Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, is the main church of St. Petersburg. It possesses a great historical value and is considered to be an architecture masterpiece, visited by thousands of tourists and city residents every year.