The Cathedral of Christ The Savior

Although the Cathedral now stands out in the Moscow skyline, with its gold cupola shining over the city, the cathedral has only recently been reconstructed. The history of the Cathedral begins on December 25, 1812. This was the day that the last soldiers of Napoleons' 600,000-man army were driven out of Russia. Emperor Alexander I signed a Manifesto ordering the construction of a magnificent Cathedral in honour of Christ the Saviour in Moscow as a thanksgiving to God and to honour the victorious Russian army.

The first site was on the Sparrow Hills. However, unsteady ground and underground waters made this site unfeasible. On April 10, 1832 Emperor Nicholas I approved a new project - on the bank of the Moscow River, near the Kremlin. The cornerstone was laid on September 10, 1839.

The Cathedral took forty years to build and of course, only the best architects, builders and artists of the time fulfilled the designs. Overall, the Cathedral is modelled on ancient Russian churches built in the Byzantine style. However, it differs from Byzantine archetypes with its more regular shape and lighter form. The actual prototypes of the Cathedral include the Dormition and Archangel Cathedrals (from the Kremlin), the Donskoy Cathedral (Moscow) and the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenkoye (Moscow). The exterior of the cathedral also pays homage to the largest church in Saint Petersburg - the St. Isaac Cathedral. The Cathedral is shaped as an equal-sided cross with the corner pillars forming a square laid over this cross. On December 13, 1880 the new church was officially named the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and priests and other clergy were assigned.

The Great Consecration of the Cathedral took place on Ascension, on May 26, 1883, which was also the day Alexander III was crowned. Regular services were conducted in the Cathedral from this time on. All important church and civic events were marked in the Cathedral.

After the revolution, the site of the Cathedral, along with ideological principles, became the reason for the decision to destroy the Cathedral. The plan entailed constructing a grandiose Palace of Soviets on the site of the Cathedral. This palace was meant to be the largest building in the world - a monument to victorious socialism and Lenin - the leader of the world proletariat. A new Moscow, with no vestiges of the "cursed past and its' monuments" was to arise around this Palace. A massive wave of propaganda preceded the actual destruction. The newspapers wrote, "the Cathedral is grotesque and totally inartistic", that "the Cathedral is a poisonous mushroom on Moscow's face" and that it was "a source of slothfulness" and so forth. In 1931 it was destroyed.

The planned palace was never built. During the thaw, the city built an enormous swimming pool instead of the Cathedral.

In 1990, The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church blesses the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The Synod appeals to the Russian government asking for permission to resurrect the cathedral on its' original site. The reconstruction of the cathedral began in 1994. Although the Cathedral wasn’t officially consecrated until 2000, it was used for services, festivals and other important events during its restoration.

Essential Information for Visitors

Address and Contact Details

15, Volhonka Ul
(495) 637-12-76
Metro: Kropotkinskaya

Opening Hours

Daily 10.00-18.00
Closed on every last Monday of the month.

Admission Prices


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