Cathedrals in Russia

Ryazan Cathedral

Ryazan"s most famous site is probably the magnificent Dormition Cathedral. It was built between 1693 and 1699 by the architect Yakov Bukhvostov in the Naryshkin baroque style. In form it consists of a tall red brick structure decorated with carved white stone window frames and topped with five central domes. Inside the cathedral has a towering iconostasis 27 metres in height which includes two miracle-working icons: ...
Founded: 1693-1699 | Location: Ryazan, Russia

Pechersky Ascension Monastery

Pechersky Voznesensky Monastery is usually said to have been founded ca. 1328-1330 by St. Dionysius, who came to Nizhny Novgorod from Kiev Pechersk Lavra (i.e., Kiev Monastery of the Caves, pechery meaning 'caves') with several other monks, and dug for himself a cave on the step Volga shore some 3 km southeast of the city. Later on, he founded at that site a monastery with a church of Resurrection of the Lord. The monast ...
Founded: 1328-1330 | Location: Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia

Saint George Cathedral

Saint George Cathedral in Yuryev-Polsky is one of a dozen surviving white-stone churches which were built in Vladimir-Suzdal Principality in the northeastern Rus prior to the Mongol invasion. Constructed between 1230 and 1234, the cathedral was also the last of these churches to be built, completed just three years before the invasion. Unlike most of the other pre-Mongol Vladimir-Suzdal churches, the St. George Cathedral ...
Founded: 1230-1234 | Location: Yuryev-Polsky, Russia

Assumption Cathedral

Assumption Cathedral, also Dormition Cathedral is one of the oldest churches of Russia, dating from the second half of the 12th century. It is one of the few surviving pre-Mongol buildings in Russia, and the northernmost one. The cathedral is the katholikon of the female Assumption Monastery, one of the several monasteries in Staraya Ladoga, and is located on the left bank of the Volkhov River. Staraya Ladoga was the fir ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Staraya Ladoga, Russia

Saint Sampson's Cathedral

St Sampson"s Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in St. Petersburg. Rumor has it that it was in St. Sampson"s Cathedral that Catherine II of Russia secretly married Grigory Potemkin in 1774. The original wooden church was built in 1710 to honor Sampson the Hospitable. It was on the feast day of that saint that Peter the Great defeated Charles XII of Sweden in the Battle of Poltava. The existing church was b ...
Founded: 1740 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.