A Landmark of the Patriotic War of 1812: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

September 13
Culture

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was originally planned as a memorial. The manifesto on its construction was published on 25 December, 1812 – the day the last Napoleonic soldiers left Russia.

Moscow's Main Archive Directorate (Glavarkhiv) contains documents related to the history of the church. The most important of them are those from the Commission for the Construction of a Cathedral in Moscow in the Name of Christ the Saviour and the Office for the Economic Management of the Moscow Cathedral in the Name of Christ the Saviour.

The idea of building​​ it emerged immediately after the end of the Patriotic War of 1812. In 1816, the project for a memorial church on Vorobyovy Gory, proposed by architect Alexander Vitberg, an Academy of Arts member, was approved. However, in 1826, due to poor organisation, the procurement of building materials halted and the excavations ceased, and in 1827, construction drew to a halt as well.

In the early 1830s, a new project was adopted, proposed by architect Konstantin Ton. A location next to the Kremlin was chosen, on the site of the old Alekseyevsky Convent built in the 14th century. Preliminary foundation work began by the mid-1830s.

A few figures to give an idea of the new project’s scale – in 1835 alone, 750,000 roubles were allocated for the construction of the cathedral. For reference, a cubic fathom of quarry rock cost 70 roubles in 1838-1839; a 20-pound barrel of lime – between 5.50 and 7.00 roubles, delivery included; and 1,000 bricks, 24 to 26 roubles. Bricklayers, stove-makers, carpenters and other workers were compensated at 1.70 roubles per day.

In 1838, the groundwork was started. The best material used was quarry rock from a deposit near the village of Grigorovo in the Ruzsky District of the Moscow Province. It was made from large blocks laid in several layers, each of them levelled and filled in smoothly. The work cost 1.5 million roubles, and more than 100,000 builders were employed.

The foundation was laid by the late summer of 1839. On 10 (22) September, 1839, a groundbreaking ceremony was held. The documents describe the details of the ceremony. Preparations for it took almost six months. That was when the special commemorative medals were minted – gold, silver and bronze ones.

Special seats were arranged for spectators and the ceremony’s participants. It began with a prayer service in the Assumption Cathedral. After that, the procession went through the Taynitsky Gate to the Kremlin Garden, then to the Borovitsky Gate, along Mokhovaya and Prechistenka streets, proceeding to the cathedral’s location. The procession was led by 12 veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812, the clergy, and the emperor with the royal family members and courtiers.

The construction was completed in 1883. Total costs exceeded 15 million roubles – an enormous amount for that time.

Source: mos.ru

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