The Church on Spilt Blood, or The Church of the Saviour on Blood, or if you’re after it’s proper name, the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, has had as many names as hot dinners, and is probably one of the most typically Russian looking things you will see in St Petersburg.
In fact, one of the most disconcerting things about St Petersburg is that you get used to feeling like you’re in Paris, and then you walk round the corner and see something like this.
When founding St Petersburg in 1703, Peter the Great wanted to create a great city in the European style, complete with baroque and neo-classical architecture. However, when construction of the Church on Spilt Blood began in 1883, times and fashions had changed and the church was designed in the Russian Revival style popular at the time.
The inside is just as beautiful as the outside, with the interior covered in over 7,000m² of mosaics which have to be seen to be believed. It’s really just one big mosaic. I had no idea what to expect from this church, but stunning doesn’t even begin to cover it. At first I thought the mosaics were paintings – I can’t even begin to imagine the work that must have gone into them.
The church was built as a memorial to Emperor Alexander II at the place where he was assassinated, and they even narrowed the canal in order to fit the shrine on the exact assassination spot inside the church walls.
The Church on Spilt Blood was looted and badly damaged in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution, and restoration took 27 years, from 1970 until the church reopened in 1997. It was never reconsecrated, and is now technically a museum of mosaics.