Religious sites in Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral was built to commemorate the capture of the Tatar stronghold of Kazan in 1552, which occured on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin. It is named after St. Basil the Blessed. Basil impressed Ivan in 1547 when he foretold a fire that swept through Moscow that year. Upon his death, Basil was buried in the Trinity Cathedral that stood on this site at the time. The cathedral was constructed from 1 ...
Founded: 1555-1560 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles

The Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles forms part of the same building as the Patriarch"s Palace. Although building began in 1640, the whole ensemble is primarily associated with Patriarch Nikon (1652 - 1658), whose tenure as head of the Russian Church was marked by the schism that separated the Old Believers from the official church, and by ongoing conflict with Tsar Aleksei. The site of the Palace dates back further ...
Founded: 1640-1653 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. 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 t ...
Founded: 1883-1907 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Dormition Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Dormition is located on the north side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia, where a narrow alley separates the north from the Patriarch"s Palace with the Twelve Apostles Church. The Cathedral is regarded as the mother church of Muscovite Russia. In its present form it was constructed between 1475–79 at the behest of the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III by the Italian architect Ari ...
Founded: 1475-1479 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Church of the Deposition of the Robe

The construction of Church of the Deposition of the Robe was begun in 1484 by masters from Pskov, most likely by the same group of architects who built the adjacent Cathedral of the Annunciation. The church was built on the site of a previous church, built by Jonah Metropolitan of Moscow in 1451. The name of the church, variously translated as the Church of the Virgin"s Robe, The Church of Laying Our Lady’s Ho ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg. The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure, and was the fourth consecutive church standing at this place. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786?1858), who ...
Founded: 1818-1858 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Archangel

The Archangel Michael, a suitably war-like heavenly figure, was chosen as the patron saint of the rulers of Muscovy in the 14th century. The Cathedral that bears his name was erected between 1505 and 1508 - the culmination of a grandiose building project begun by Ivan the Great to reflect the growing power of the state, and provide a fitting resting place for Russian Royalty. The cathedral was built under the guidance of ...
Founded: 1505-1508 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral"s bell tower is the world"s tallest Orthodox bell tower. S ...
Founded: 1712-1733 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Annunciation

The first church was built on the site of current Cathedral of the Annunciation in 1397 by order of Grand Duke Vassily I. The present building dates from 1484, when Ivan III (the Great), the great Muscovite empire-builder, ordered a new cathedral. It was completed in 1489 by Krivtsov and Mishkin, masons from Pskov, who blended Greek and Russian styles in their design. Generations of princes and tsars added to and altered ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia. The construction was started in 1801 and continued for ten years (supervised by Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov). Upon its completion the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos, which was disassembled when the Kazan Cathedral was consecrated. It was modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after St. Peter"s Basili ...
Founded: 1801 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

One of the most imposing and controversial buildings in Russia, the resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has had a short but turbulent history. It was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon, but work did not begin on its construction until 1839. Designed by the great St. Petersburg architect Konstantin Ton, who was also responsible for the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Kremlin Armoury and whose church ...
Founded: 1839-1883 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on a ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Sergiev Posad, Russia

St. Catherine's Church

The Catholic Church of St. Catherine is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Russia. On December 12, 1705 Peter the Great signed a charter that would allow the construction of Catholic churches in Russia. The church itself (though not the building with which it is today associated) was founded in 1710. In 1738 Empress Anna granted permission for the church to erect a structure on Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of St. ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra or Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded by Peter I of Russia in 1710 at the eastern end of the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg supposing that that was the site of the Neva Battle in 1240 when Alexander Nevsky, a prince, defeated the Swedes; however, the battle actually took place about 12 miles away from that site. The monastery was founded also to house the relics of St. Alexander N ...
Founded: 1710 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Kronstadt Naval Cathedral

The Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is a Russian Orthodox cathedral built in 1903–1913 as the main church of the Baltic Fleet and dedicated to all fallen seamen. The cathedral was closed in 1929, and was converted to a cinema, a House of Officers (1939) and a museum of the Navy (1980). The Russian Orthodox Church reinstalled the cross on the main dome in 2002 and served the first Divine Liturgy in the ...
Founded: 1903-1913 | Location: Kronstadt, Russia

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery dates back to the 13th century. It was destroyed by fire in 1501, and the monastery as you see it today was mostly built in the 16th century. For centuries it was one of the biggest monasteries in Russia and by 1764 it owned vast amounts of land and had some 14,000 serfs. Almost every Tsar in history visited the monastery and it was behind its formidable walls that Minin and Pozharsky prepar ...
Founded: 1506-1516 | Location: Yaroslavl, Russia

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this p ...
Founded: 1045-1050 | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Smolny Convent

Smolny Convent (Voskresensky) is a Russian Orthodox convent built to house Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. After she was disallowed succession to the throne, she opted to become a nun. However her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI was overthrown during a coup d"état (carried out by the royal guards in 1741). Elizabeth then decided against entering monastic life and accepted the offer of the Russian thr ...
Founded: 1748-1764 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Cathedral of the Nativity

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal is one of the eight White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal. One of the most complex monuments of Russian medieval architecture. It was originally constructed during the reign of Vladimir II Monomakh during the late 11th century. The Cathedral of the Nativity is surrounded by a ring of earthen walls in an oxbow of Kamenka River. It is notable for being the first cit ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Saint Euthymius Monastery

The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius was founded in the 14th century, and grew in importance in the 16th and 17th centuries after donations by Vasili III, Ivan IV and the Pozharsky family, a noble dynasty of the region. Among the buildings erected during this period were the Assumption Church, the bell tower, the surrounding walls and towers, and the seven-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour. The cathe ...
Founded: 1352 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.

The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.