Excursions with Kazan Cathedral
The Kazan Cathedral was founded in 1801 instead of a small stone church housing the making-miracle icon of Our Lady of Kazan brought from Moscow to Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great. Russian Emperor Paul I wished a future cathedral become just a grand symbol of Russian Orthodoxy's capital, as St. Peter's Basilica is for Catholicism. The cathedral's construction was entrusted to A. Voronikhin, a former serf and talented architect.
Working over the cathedral's project Voronikhin met with a rather complicated problem. According to church canons the altar had to face eastwards as well as its main entrance — westwards. Hence the future cathedral would be turned with a side fa?ade, not main, to famous Nevsky Prospect. The architect had brilliantly solved this problem by projecting grand colonnade along the northern side of the cathedral faced Nevsky. At first Voronikhin planned to put similar colonnade along the southern fa?ade but these plans had never been fulfilled.
The Kazan Cathedral's construction lasted for 10 years — rather quickly for such a monumental edifice. Thousands of Russian laborers, mostly serfs, worked hard day and night. The cathedral was opened in 1811. Reaching 71.5 meters in height it was the biggest church in Saint Petersburg at that time. Its fa?ade and interiors were decorated by impressive columns made of granite.
The Kazan Cathedral was originally erected to house the miracle-making icon of Our Lady of Kazan, but its fate had been crucially changed by the Patriotic War of 1812. After this war the cathedral hosted victory relics of Russian army and in 1813 famous field marshal M. Kutuzov was buried there. In 1837 when Russia celebrated 25-th anniversary of defeating Napoleon monuments to Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolli designed by sculptor Orlovsky were placed before the cathedral.
After October revolution of 1917 the Kazan Cathedral was taken from Russian Orthodox Church. In 1932 it became the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Only more than seventy years later, in 1990 the Kazan Cathedral was again used for proceeding a sermon — Divine Liturgy honoring the feast of the miracle-making icon of Our Lady of Kazan.