Svaneke Church stands above the harbour at a height of 18 metres on the site of a small chapel which appears to have existed for quite some time before the town received its charter in the 16th century. The church was expanded over the years, the tower and spire being completed in 1789. In 1881, virtually the whole building was rebuilt by architect Mathias Bidstrup of Rønne, leaving only the tower and a small section of the south wall.
In 1569, the church was referred to as the chapel of Svaneke. With the Reformation, it moved from the Archbishopric of Lund to the Danish crown but is now self-governing. It was initially annexed to nearby St Ib's Church.
The church was renovated and extended in 1881, leaving only the nave's late Gothic southern wall, the western gable and the lower floor of the more recent tower. The older stonework was built of granite. There are traces of the old porch which was demolished in 1837. The tower, also built of granite, was probably built during the 16th century. The belfry is of half-timbered oak finished in red brick. Today's octagonal spire, dating from 1789, still stands today although it had to be repaired in 1905 after being struck by lightening.
In 1881, under the direction of Mathias Bidstrup, the church was expanded and renovated. The northern and eastern walls of the nave were demolished and the church was extended to the east, ending in an apse. These alterations were completed in brick. Large arched windows and a new ceiling were installed. As today, the exterior was finished in red-washed walls. The weather vane on the tower depicts a swan, representing the arms of the town.
The Baroque-styled pulpit is from 1683. The current organ was installed in 1955. The church now has seating for 300. The wooden altar dates from the 1881 restoration while the carved altarpiece contains a painting from 1882 signed by A. Dorph. The old chandelier dates from 1673 while the church bell from 1701, displaying an image of a swan, was cast by Daniel Hinrich Grædener and Arendt Torkuhl.References:
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.