The Savior on Spilled Blood


Church of the Resurrection of Christ (also known as the Savior on Spilled Blood) is within a five minute walk from “Nevsky Prospect” metro station, alongside with The Mikhailovsky Palace Garden, the Field of Mars and the Arts Square. It is probably one of the most striking landmarks in the whole city.

The Saviour on Spilled Blood
The Emperor Alexander II

The Savior on Spilled Blood was constructed on the spot where in 1881 a fatal attack on the emperor Alexander II had been made. A revolutionary and a member of the organization “People’s Will” Ignatiy Grinevitsky committed a terrorist act by throwing a bomb at the emperor’s feet.  Both Alexander II and Grinevitsky died after some time because of the wounds caused by shrapnel. The very next day after the monarch’s murder, his son and the new emperor Alexander III ordered to construct a chapel on the site of the Tsar’s bloodshed. The imposing church designed by Leontiy Benoit was constructed in such a way that the part of the sidewalk, where Alexander II lay dying, became the part of the church and the date of the terrible event was immortalized in the construction’s height – 81 meters (the emperor’s murder took place in 1881).

However, the church was opened only 24 later: sketches of the architectural complex carefully selected personally by the new Tsar required huge investments and a long work. St. Basil’s Cathedral and Ivan the Great Bell Tower in Moscow were considered as benchmarks. New building technologies of the time were used in the construction, and the whole building was electrified, which was not common for the begging of the XX century.  After the construction was finished, the Savior on Spilled Blood remained under the state maintenance and one could not enter without a pass. 

“During the Leningrad siege the building was used both as a morgue and a vegetable store – that’s why in Soviet times some people called it the “Savior on Potatoes”

With the advent of Soviet authority the state financial support of the church stopped, and in 1938 it was decided to deconstruct the Savior on Spilled Blood and to use the place for something more useful. Soon, however, the World War II began and the fate of the church ceased to be a priority. During the Leningrad siege the building was used both as a morgue and a vegetable store – that’s why in Soviet times some people called it the “Savior on Potatoes”. When the war ended, city authorities decided not to demolish the church and for many years it was used for the storage of decorations of the Small Opera Theater (Mikhailovsky Theater nowadays).

The Saviour on Spilled Blood
The Saviour on Spilled Blood
The Saviour on Spilled Blood
The exhibition of mosaics

Today, religious services are rarely conducted in this incredible architectural monument. In addition to its architectural value, Russia’s largest exhibition of mosaics (over 7,000 sq.m.) operates in the Savior on Spilled Blood. It includes the Italian colored marble, Ural and Altai semiprecious stones and mosaic collections of Russian heraldry. So if you walk along Nevsky Prospekt, don’t forget to turn to Griboedov Canal and enjoy this truly magnificent architectural masterpiece.

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