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 cathedral in 2005, but since then it is opened only on special occasions.
The first Orthodox church in Kronstadt was built in 1728–31. The wooden church remained the main place of worship in Russia"s largest naval base until 1840, when the counterweights balancing the church bells broke through the rotting floors and seriously damaged the belltower structure. Emperor Nicholas I personally ordered the shutdown of the unsafe church and it was demolished in 1841. For the next half century worship was performed in temporary locations. A temporary wooden church built in 1861 was inadequate for the ten thousand Kronstadt seamen from the start.
Construction management, extremely centralised until the reign of Alexander II, was gradually decentralized in the 1880s–1890s. The right to initiate individual construction projects passed from the Emperor himself to imperial ministers and department chiefs. In 1896 admiral Pavel Tyrtov, director of the Imperial Russian Navy, started preparations to build a cathedral in Kronstadt in earnest. Tyrtov insisted that the cathedral be built on the site identified nearly two centuries earlier by Peter I and reasoned that it should not cost more than the new Kharkiv cathedral (200,000 roubles).
October 27, 1901 the 14,000 strong garrison of Kronstadt was summoned for the groundbreaking on Anchor Square. Earthwork and work on concrete foundations and a granite base continued through 1902; the walls were laid down in a massive ceremony May 8, 1903 with the Emperor in attendance. Despite social unrest that culminated in the Russian revolution of 1905, the cathedral was structurally complete in 1907. Anyway numerous amendments and changes were implemented by spring of 1909.
The cathedral operated as such for only 16 years. October 14, 1929 it was closed and valuables were nationalized to state treasury. A small portion of these relics were displayed at the Museum of Navy and the Russian Museum. In 1930—1931 the cathedral was defaced: its crosses and bells were toppled over and hauled to the foundries. One bell, weighing 4,726 kilograms (second largest) remained in place — either due to technical difficulties or deliberately, as an emergency alarm signal. Internal marble items, including the iconostasis and the memorial boards with names of the fallen seamen, were ripped out, broken or cut and reused for ordinary construction needs. A small number of memorial boards ended up in the Museum of Navy and were 'written off' in 1970.
In 1932 the cathedral hall was converted to a cinema, frivolously named New Star, but soon renamed to more appropriate Maxim Gorky; in 1939 the cinema was upgraded to a House of the Officers (akin to a community center) of Kronstadt garrison. During World War II it was closed; the dome received three direct artillery hits. Post-war 'reconstruction' of 1953—54 finally converted the cathedral to a functioning concert hall. This time, the builders added a suspended ceiling that isolated the hall from the dome; it remained in place as at end of 2007. Reduction of military personnel in 1960s made the concert hall redundant; in 1980 the cathedral reopened as a branch of the Central Museum of Navy.
The Church attempted to repossess the cathedral since 1990s. In 2005 the first Divine Liturgy in held the Naval Cathedral since 1929. As of September 2008 the cathedral is operational, but it is opened only on special occasions. The cathedral is undergoing extensive repairs and improvements, and was reconsecrated in April 2012. In his remarks, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said the cathedral looked 'better than 100 years ago.' Repairs are scheduled to be completed in 2013, in time for the cathedral"s centennial anniversary.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.