In the Medieval Period, Vamlingbo was the largest parish in the south of Gotland. A stone church was built here at a very early date. Remains of the original church can still be seen by way of sculptures that have been incorporated in the south wall of the nave of the new church. The baptismal font is also from the original church.
The present church was built of sandstone in the 13th century. The steeple was struck by lightning in 1817. The top of the tower collapsed, and was replaced by a lower, simpler one. Nine crossed vaults can be seen in the nave, borne up by four sturdy supports.
Many of the murals are of the same age as the church. There is a huge fresco on the north side of the nave interior – it depicts the angel Michael weighing the Emperor Henry’s soul. There are also several tombstones and commemorative paintings in memory of people buried in the church. The reredos date from the 13th century, and the pulpit from 17th century.
The church has also been renovated several times during the 20th century. South of the church is what might be Gotland’s most magniﬁcent parsonage. From the road, you can see the impressive driveway leading to the main house, with two long wings and two pairs of gateposts.
One wing is a barn and the other a cowhouse. The priest’s dwelling-house and two smaller wings, from the late 18th century, are in the house garden. The house is two-storeyed, and has retained its outer appearance. The beautiful entrance has been furnished with striking details in sandstone. The wings originally functioned as a brewhouse, baking oven, meat store and farm-hand’s quarters. The parsonage now houses the Museum Lars Jonsson.
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 the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.