St Martin's Church (Sankt Mortens Kirke) is one of the city's medieval churches. Known from records since approximately 1280, it is believed to have been built and put into service around 1200. The building was constructed as the city's parish church. It is dedicated to St Martin of Tours considered its patron saint.
The church is a Gothic structure built with bricks. The oldest parts of the church are from the 1220s. The tower was added in the 15th century but the baptismal chapel and the porch were completed as late as the 1850s.
The arches bear a portrait of St Martin. There are many frescoes of the period; one depicts him as a soldier sitting on his horse, while he cuts a piece of his officer cap and gives it to a beggar. The church's first organ, installed in 1587, was made by Hans Brebus (d. 1603), a Flemish organ builder who practiced in Denmark and Sweden. The altarpiece (1667) of 6m height is decorated with figures wearing grotesque masks or with mustaches, some of whom are stooping low) and is attributed to thewoodcarver Abel Schrøder (1602-1676) who was also the church's organist for forty-two years. Today's Frobenius organ dates to 1975. The pulpit was built by Abel Schrøder's father.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.