- Sophia Cathedral
Infobox religious building
building_name = St. Sophia (Ascension) Cathedral Софийский (Вознесенский) собор
infobox_width = 300px
image_size = 300px
caption = St. Sophia Cathedral and its
bell towerin winter 2008
Russia, Saint Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo
geo = coord|59|42|18.89|N|30|23|38.05|E|type:landmark_region:RU_scale:2000
Saint Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo
consecration_year = 1788 (1989, 1999)
functional_status = Active
architecture = yes
architect = Charles Cameron,
Ivan Starov; the bell tower - Leon Benois
architecture_type = Cathedral
architecture_style = Palladian
facade_direction = West
groundbreaking = 1782
year_completed = 1788
specifications = yes
capacity = 5,000
dome_quantity = 5
spire_quantity = Stone,
designated =Infobox church
imagesize = 300px
landscape = yes
diocese = Saint Petersburg and Ladoga
division = Tsarskoe Selo
parish = St. Sophia Cathedral
dean = Rev. Gennadiy Zverev
address = 1, Sofiyskaya pl., Tsarskoye Selo, St. Petersburg Санкт-Петербург, Царское Село, Софийская пл., 1
country = "flagicon|Russia
phone = +7 812 465-30-19
The Ascension Cathedral in the town of Sophia (now a part of Pushkin) in the vicinity of
Saint Petersburg, was one of the first purely Palladianchurches to be built in Russia. Rather paradoxically, it may also be defined as "the first example of Byzantinism in Russian architecture" [Anthony Cross. "By the Banks of the Neva". Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-55293-1. Page 292.] .
The cathedral was founded in July 1782 at the instigation of
Catherine II of Russia. The Tsarina, eager to liberate Constantinoplefrom the Turks, wished to have a replica of the Hagia Sophiain the proximity of the Catherine Palacewhere she spent her summers. In addition, the cathedral was to be the chapter church of the newly established Order of Saint Vladimir.
The Empress called upon her favourite architect, Charles Cameron, to design this "Byzantinesque" church, but the Scottish architect, though well versed in the Palladian idiom, had a vague idea of what
Byzantine architecturestood for. His design called for an austere and monumental whitewashed exterior, with Doric porticoes on each side, probably a reference to the works of Lord Burlington.
Construction works, supervised by
Ivan Starov, lasted for six years. In the eventual variant, the five wide domes were placed on squat drums, vaguely reminiscent of the Hagia Eirene. The church was consecrated on 28 May, 1788in the presence of the Empress. During the two decades that followed, the Imperial Academy of Artshad the interior adorned with Neoclassical paintings. A detached two-storied belltower was added considerably later, in 1905, to a design by Leon Benois.
Alexander I of Russiagave the cathedral to a hussarregiment of his Leib Guard, which was quartered in Sophia. During the rest of the 19th century, the regiment had the cathedral transformed into a sort of military museum, its walls lined with marble plaques honouring the hussars' victories. Near the altar, for instance, were placed the banners captured by General Cherniaev from the Khan of Kokand.
In 1934, the Communist government had the cathedral closed down, with marble plaques and precious furnishings either nationalized or stolen. It stood abandoned until 1990, when the
Russian Orthodox Churchresumed worship there. The same year, a bust of Alexander Nevskywas added nearby, by way of commemorating the 750th anniversary of the Battle of the Neva.
* [http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/sophia.html Sophia Cathedral on the Alexander Palace Time Machine] - history, pictures, floorplans
* [http://www.alexanderpalace.org/2006tsarskoe/sophia_cathedral.html Sophia Cathedral, Kazan Cemetery and nearby Hospitals] - from Tsarskoe Selo in 1910
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