Church of the Savior on Blood

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Russian: Церковь Спаса на Крови, Tserkovʹ Spasa na Krovi) is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church on Spilt Blood (Russian: Церковь на Крови, Tserkov’ na Krovi) and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (Russian: Собор Воскресения Христова, Sobor Voskreseniya Khristova), its official name.

“The preferred russian name for this great church is Храм Спаса на Крови (Khram Spasa na Krovi), but each english-language tourist publication seems to list it under a different name. The moniker of “Spilled Blood” is most popular in preference to the likes of the Church of the Resurrection, Church of our Savior on the Blood, Cathedral of the Ascension, Resurrection of the Christ, or Assumption, Church of the Redeemer, or any permutation of the above.”

This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. It should not to be confused with the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, located in the city of Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II (1868–1918) and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.

Construction and features

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.

A temporary shrine was erected on the site of the attack while the project for a more permanent memorial was undertaken. It was decided that the section of the street where the assassination had taken place was to be enclosed within the walls of a church. The embankment was therefore extended out into the canal to allow the shrine to fit comfortably within the building and to provide space on the exterior wall for a memorial marking the spot where the assassination took place. Inside, an elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander’s death, garnished withtopaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones. Amid such rich decoration, the simple cobblestones on which the tsar’s blood was spilled and which are exposed in the floor of the shrine provide a striking contrast.

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