Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Kazan Cathedral (Russian: Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р), also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most venerated icons in Russia.

Kazan Cathedral is one of the largest temples in St. Petersburg. It was built on Nevsky Prospect in 1801-1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin to store an honored list of the miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Kazan. After the Patriotic War of 1812, it acquired the significance of a monument of Russian military glory. In 1813 the commander Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov was buried here and the keys to the taken cities and other military trophies were placed.

In 1932 it was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Since 1991 – the current church, coexisted for several years with the exposition of the museum. Since 2000 – the Cathedral of the St. Petersburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since March 9, 2019, the rector is Metropolitan Barsanuphius (Sudakov) of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.

The cathedral gave its name to Kazan Square, Kazan Street, Kazan Island in the Neva Delta, and Kazan Bridge at the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt and the Griboedov Canal.

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On September 6 (17), 1733, a stone baroque church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was laid on Nevsky Prospekt, with a wooden dome and a bell tower above the entrance. The author of the project was the architect Mikhail Zemtsov. The consecration of the temple took place on June 13 (24), 1737 in the presence of Empress Anna Ioannovna. The day before the consecration, the venerable image of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, a list of the miraculous icon found in Kazan at the end of the 16th century, was transferred to the temple. In 1747-1748, the painter Louis Caravac created the temple image of the “Nativity of the Virgin.”

In 1773, Tsarevich Pavel Petrovich was married in the church. The church was a place where many victories of the Russian army were celebrated.

In the middle of the XVIII century it was planned to give the temple a more formal appearance. So, the architect Semyon Volkov developed a five-domed project and a new bell tower, but it was not implemented. At the end of the 18th century, another project was developed by Giacomo Quarenghi and Nikolai Lvov.

From this church there remained a marble tablet, where the imperial crown is carved, and under it there is an inscription that reads (literally the full text in modern spelling): “by the grace of the god of the trio of the famous father and son and the holy spirit, the church was founded by decree of the pious autocratic great empress of the all-Russian empress Anna Ivanovna this is in honor of the blessed mistress of our virgin to commemorate the appearance of her holy image of Kazan in the summer from the creation of the world 7241e from the incarnation of the god of the word September 1733th, 6 days. ” The tablet is placed on the wall inside the Kazan Cathedral under the icon of all the saints.

The construction of the Kazan Cathedral
In 1799, Emperor Paul I announced a competition for the design of a new cathedral to replace the dilapidated Nativity of the Virgin Church. Among the participants of the competition were well-known architects: P. Gonzago, C. Cameron, D. Trombara, J. Tom de Tomon. Initially, Paul I chose Cameron’s project, but six months later changed his mind. As a result, not a single submitted project was approved.

A year later, Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov, near whose residence the temple was located, proposed to the emperor a new project created by a talented young architect (and former serf of the Stroganovs) A.N. Voronikhin. This project received approval, and Count Stroganov became chairman of the board of trustees during the construction of the cathedral.

The laying of a new church took place on August 27 (September 8), 1801 in the presence of Emperor Alexander I. The architect and engraver Nikolai Fedorovich Alferov worked as an assistant to Voronikhin on the construction of the Kazan Cathedral. The construction was completed in 1811 and cost the treasury 4.7 million rubles. On January 1, 1811, the author of the Kazan Cathedral project, architect A.N. Voronikhin, was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th degree.

On September 15 (27), 1811, Metropolitan Ambrose consecrated the cathedral. In the same year, the old church was dismantled.

Cathedral in the XIX – early XX centuries
Kazan Cathedral was perceived by contemporaries as a monument to the military victories of the Russian people in the Patriotic War of 1812. In 1812, trophies were brought here: French military banners and the personal baton of Napoleonic Marshal Davout. Field Marshal Kutuzov was buried here.

Until the end of 1829, decoration continued under the supervision of Auguste Montferrand. The first repair in the cathedral took place in 1844-1845, the second, which included the restoration of images and wall paintings, in 1862-1865.

Despite the cult character of the building, the square in front of it always attracted the interest of the revolutionary-minded masses. On December 6 (18), 1876, the first demonstration of the populist group “Earth and Freedom” took place and George Plekhanov spoke for the first time (after the October Revolution, his temporary monument was located between the statues of Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly). Here, student demonstrations peaked at the Anichkov Bridge. On Bloody Sunday, 1905, a crowd erected barricades from benches in the newly formed square near the cathedral.

On October 27 (November 8), 1893, Peter Tchaikovsky was buried in the cathedral.

On February 21 (March 6), 1913, a stampede occurred in the cathedral during the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, according to the official version, killing 34 people.

On May 24 (June 6), 1917, the election of the ruling bishop (the only time in the history of the diocese) was held in the cathedral by “free voting of the clergy and laity ”. Most of the votes cast were received by Bishop Benjamin of Gdovsk.

On January 18, 1921, Metropolitan Veniamin consecrated the “cave” winter chapel of the holy martyr Hermogenes, the Patriarch of Moscow.

Since the 1930s
The persecution of the church during the Soviet era also affected the Kazan Cathedral. The interior of the cathedral was badly damaged during the seizure of church property in 1922. According to rough estimates, about 2 tons of only one silver were seized from the temple. A unique silver iconostasis died: silver was melted, and it disappeared without a trace. In 1923, the cathedral was transferred to the Renovationists and since the mid-1920s served as the cathedral of the renovationist Leningrad Metropolis. January 25, 1932 was closed, and on November 15, 1932 the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism was opened in the building. In 1950-1956, the restoration of the interior was carried out, and in 1963-1968 – of the facades.

Divine services resumed on May 25, 1991 in the left aisle. The following year, the main chapel was consecrated. April 30, 1994 the cross was raised to the dome. The full consecration of the cathedral took place on March 29, 1998. It was made by Metropolitan Vladimir (Kotlyarov). In 2000, the cathedral was finally returned to the Russian Orthodox Church and received the status of the cathedral.

Architecture and decoration of the cathedral
Emperor Paul I wished that the temple under construction at his command was similar to the majestic St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. A reflection of this desire was the grandiose colonnade of 96 columns erected by A.N. Voronikhin in front of the northern facade. If the colonnade of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome closes the square, the colonnade of the Kazan Cathedral opens to Nevsky Prospect. Such an architectural solution allowed A.N. Voronikhin to solve the problem that confronted all the builders of the temples on Nevsky. The avenue stretches from west to east, Orthodox churches are organized in the same way: in the west – the entrance, in the east – the altar. Because many church buildings were forced to stand sideways to the main thoroughfare of the city. The colonnade allowed to make the northern, lateral part of the cathedral ceremonial. The dome cross of the cathedral, for the same reasons, is turned to the avenue with an edge and is not fully visible from the front, north side. The same colonnade was supposed to adorn the cathedral from the south, however, the plan of A.N. Voronikhin was not completed. The cathedral does not have a bell tower; the belfry is located in the western wing of the colonnade. Having secured the ends of the colonnade with monumental porticoes, Voronikhin designed passages along the canal and street, towards which the western facade of the cathedral was facing.

Dome of the Kazan Cathedral became the first large dome of ductile iron. It has a diameter of 17.7 m and consists of two rows of iron ribs. Both rows are fixed below on a common base and gradually diverge to the top. Further reinforced struts and horizontal edges, this design supports the “apple” with a cross, it is suspended and the chandelier of the cathedral. Below the iron dome are two more brick ones. Built before the development of methods for the static calculation of bar structures, this dome is an example of successful intuitive design.

The facades of the cathedral are lined with gray pudost stone. Previously, they were decorated with reliefs and statues made by I.P. Martos, I.P. Prokofiev, F.G. Gordeev, S.S. Pimenov, V.I. Demut-Malinovsky. It was not possible to carry out all of the planned. So, up to now, two pedestals on the sides of the colonnade have been preserved; until 1824, they had gypsum sculptures of angels on them, which were to be replaced by bronze ones.

The northern gate of the cathedral was cast in bronze on the model of the famous “paradise doors” of the 15th century in the Florentine Baptistery.

Inside the temple are 56 columns of the Corinthian order made of pink Finnish granite with gilded capitals.

Only two of the bas-reliefs in the interior survived: “Carrying the Cross” by F. F. Shchedrin and “Taking into Custody” by J. D. Raschett, the rest were removed already in 1814.

The image was performed by the academicians of painting: V. K. Shebuyev, A. E. Egorov, A. I. Ivanov, F. P. Brullo, S. S. Schukin, O. A. Kiprensky and others.

Impressions of contemporaries
Sofya Abramovna Boratynskaya, sister of the poet E. A. Boratynsky, who arrived in Petersburg, wrote to her mother on June 15, 1822: “We were in the Kazan Cathedral. What a magnificent canvas! Especially the Annunciation: the Virgin seems to be breathing; and Christ is just a masterpiece. The faces of both Mother and Child amazed me extraordinarily. Very impressive marble colonnade ”
Quoted from the book – A. Peskov, M. Boratynsky: The True Story – M.: Knika, 1990. – 384 p. – S. 211The main shrine of the temple is the revered image of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, a list of the miraculous icon found in Kazan at the end of the 16th century.

The iconostasis of the main aisle was noteworthy. Built in 1834 – 1836 according to the project of the architect K.A. Ton, instead of the original, Voronikhinsky, it was lined with captured silver, taken from the French. 40 pounds of this silver were sent by the Don Ataman M.I. Platov. After 30 years, the iconostases of the northern and southern aisles were lined with silver. During the seizure of church values, the iconostasis was lost. Currently, silver has been restored on the iconostases.

Shrines, relics
Other revered images are not currently in the cathedral:

Savior icon in the iconostasis;
icons of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker and the Czestochowa Mother of God donated by Mikhail Kutuzov;
Calvary with a particle of the Living Coffin, designed by Nikolai Nikonov in 1891;
Icon of the Resurrection of Christ, also with a particle of the Holy Sepulcher, sent in 1906 by Damian, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Monument Temple
Kazan Cathedral is a temple of Russian military glory. In the summer of 1812, before leaving for the army, the cathedral was visited by Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov, appointed to command the Russian army. He fell to the icon of the Kazan Mother of God. In 1813, the ashes of His Grace Prince Kutuzov, who died in the Prussian city of Bunzlau during the Overseas campaign of the Russian army, was buried in the Kazan Cathedral. The lattice enclosing the grave of Kutuzov and the marble slab on it were made according to a drawing by Andrey Voronikhin.

In 1813-1814, 107 captured French banners and standards of the defeated French regiments, 93 keys to fortresses and cities taken by the Russian army were exhibited for inspection in the cathedral.

In 1837, in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon on a semicircular square in front of the Kazan Cathedral, bronze monuments to the famous Russian military commanders Mikhail Kutuzov and Mikhail Barclay de Tolly were inaugurated. The author of the project was the Russian architect Vasily Stasov, and the figures of the generals were cast according to the models of the sculptor Boris Orlovsky. The monuments emphasized the memorial significance of the Kazan Cathedral as a kind of monument to the exploits accomplished by Russian soldiers in the name of the Fatherland.

At the end of the 19th century, next to the royal place, made of Finnish granite, under the glass hung a message from the Holy Synod about the assassination of Alexander II, and on the next column – the manifesto of 1815 on the Holy Alliance.

The parish of Kazan Cathedral participated in several city religious processions:

August 30 (September 12) (starting from 1743), the day of remembrance of the Holy Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky; from the Kazan Cathedral (since 1858 – from the Cathedral of St. Isaac’s Cathedral) to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
April 4 (16), in memory of the fact that Alexander II, after the assassination attempt of D.V. Karakozov, arrived to pray in the cathedral in front of the icon of the Kazan Mother of God; from the cathedral to the chapel near the Summer Garden.
July 4 (16), in memory of the deliverance of the city from cholera in 1849; from the cathedral to the Assumption Church on Sennaya Square.

The cathedral hosted many festivities celebrated by the whole city:

Patronal feast on July 8 (21) with a prayer service before the miraculous image in the square, on a special platform.
On May 11 (24), on the day of Saints Cyril and Methodius, many students from parish schools attended the liturgy and prayer service.
January 14 (27), the day of St. Sava of Serbia, was celebrated by the capital Serbs.
December 25 (January 7), Memorial Day of the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812, a special thanksgiving service was served.

In the era of Nicholas I, when there was a reversal in Russian architecture from copying Western models to an eclectic reworking of the pre-Petrine tradition (the work of K. Ton), Kazan Cathedral was perceived as the beginning of the line that would lead to the “Catholic Masonic” design of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, developed A. Witberg and rejected by the emperor. A statement by F. Vigel is characteristic: “Voronikhin, who was assigned to shoemaking by nature, fell into the architects teaching; and he, on the recommendation of his master, built the Kazan Cathedral, this copyist in architecture, who could do nothing but write Michelangelo’s most bad handwriting to us ”(a hint of borrowing the planmain temple of Catholicism). At the beginning of the 20th century, with the return of interest in classicism, the “rehabilitation” of the Voronikhin project took place. In the poem of the collection “Stone” (1913), Osip Mandelstam compared the Kazan Cathedral with the “light cross-spider”: “But the architect was not Italian, But he is Russian in Rome – well, then! Every time, like a foreigner, you go through a grove of porticoes. ”

Commemorative Coins
On September 1, 2011, the Bank of Russia issued a commemorative coin with a face value of 25 rubles depicting the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg in the series “Monuments of Russian Architecture”. The coin is made of silver of 925th sample with a circulation of 1,500 copies and a weight of 155.5 grams.