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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan is one of the best-known symbols of St. Petersburg. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, it was built in 1811.

Some interesting facts about the church

Built by Russian architect Andrei Voronikhin

Tsar Paul I thought of building the Kazan Cathedral on the spot where the old Church of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin had stood. He held a competition, in which architects from across Europe participated, including Pietro Gonzago from Italy, Charles Cameron from England and Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon from France. The emperor had already approved Cameron's design when Count Stroganov recommended a young Russian architect by the name of Andrei Voronikhin, who had not submitted an entry in the competition. Tsar Paul liked the design, and Voronikhin was appointed chief architect.

Leading Russian artists embellished the interior

Both the interior and external façade of the Kazan Cathedral are adorned with sculptures and bas-reliefs. Bronze statues of the saints were sculpted by Stepan Pimenov, Ivan Martos and Vasily Demut-Malinovsky. The walls are decorated with paintings created by famous artists, such as Karl Bryullov and Vladimir Borovikovsky.

Memorial shrine of the Franco-Russian War of 1812

The cathedral was completed a year before the French invasion of 1812. Before leaving to join the army, commander-in-chief Mikhail Kutuzov visited a mass held in the church. After the war, trophies were brought to the cathedral, such as military banners and standards, keys from seized cities and the baton belonging to Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout. Kutuzov himself was interred in the cathedral after his death in 1813.

Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism

In 1929, the Bolsheviks closed the cathedral and three years later gave the building to the Academy of Sciences. On the dome, a gilded globe and spire replaced the cross. All the church items were distributed among the city's museums, and the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism was established inside the cathedral. Its exhibits illustrated the appearance and evolution of Christianity, Islam and Eastern religions.

From Culture.r

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Additional Photos by Piotr Fagasiewicz (PiotrF) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 4577 W: 2 N: 8216] (39628)
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