The Church of the Holy Ghost (Helligåndskirken) is one of the Copenhagen's oldest churches. The first abbey in Copenhagen was a Franciscan monastery founded in 1238, just 12 years after the death of Francis of Assisi. Prior to that, Archbishop Eskil had founded two Cistercian monasteries, Esrom Abbey and Herrevad Abbey. Typically for the order, they had been founded at more remote locations in Northern Zealand and Skåneland. At first, the new institution in Copenhagen was more of a hostal and workshop for travelling monks than a monastery proper. It was expanded on a number of occasions and remained the only monastery and a central part of the city's life for the next 250 years.
In 1296, a hospital was built by Roskilde Bishop Johannes Krag who was member of the powerful Krag-Hvide noble family. Johannes Krag's strict rule over the city had brought its population to an uprising. They attempted to storm Bishop's Palace at Slotsholmen and as part of a settlement, Krag agreed to build what was known as a House of the Holy Ghost. Such houses were facilities which cared for the sick, the poor and the old, more refuges for the weak and disabled than hospitals in the modern sense of the word.
The construction of the new building was to be paid for by the bishop and the citizens in equal shares. For its support, an annual ground rent was assessed all properties. Over the years, the hospital also received its own endowments, mainly of property, which provided income for its support. Next to the hospital a small church was built although it is not known exactly when it was added to the complex.
In 1469, King Christian I transformed the hospital into an abbey. Later, on his journey to Rome in 1474, Pope Sixtus IV acknowledged it as an institution under the Order of the Holy Ghost, with Santo Spirito in Rome as inspiration and mother church.
The abbey consisted of four wings around a courtyard. Of these the present-day church has evolved from the south wing while the House of the Holy Ghost is the former west wing. Originally the church did not have a tower. Construction of a tower was commenced in 1520 but before long the Reformation brought things to a standstill and in 1530 the abbey was decommissioned.
After the reformation the church was converted into a parish church. At the initiative of Christoffer Valkendorff, at that time Governor of Copenhagen, work on the tower was resumed in 1582. Brickwork was continued in another bond, making the transition between the old and the new part of the tower easily detectable. The tower was topped by a spire mounted in August 1594.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.