Christian's Church is a magnificent Rococo church in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. After Christian IV founded Christianshavn in 1617 as a town specially for merchants, a large community of German tradrers and craftsmen settled there. Even though Christianshavn had been incorporated into Copenhagen prior to 1674, they did not attend St. Peter's Church like the rest of the city's German community but preferred to use the local Church of Our Saviour. This lasted until they finally asked King Christian VI for permission to build their own church. The King approved the plans and contributed with a lot, a former saltern, located at the end of Strandgade in the southern part of the neighbourhood. He also granted permission for a lottery to be held to cover the project's financing with the result that the finished church used to be colloquially known as the Lottery Church.
Nicolai Eigtved, the king's preferred architect at the time, was charged with the design of the new church but died in 1754, before construction started. Instead his son-in-law, Royal Master Builder Georg David Anthon, was entrusted with supervising the actual construction of the church which was completed in 1759. Anthon also designed the spire which is an addition from 1769.
The church originally called Frederik's German Church (Danish: Frederiks Tyske Kirke), and served its original purpose as a church for the German congregation until it was dissolved in 1886. In 1901 the name of the church was changed to the current Christian's Church to complement and avoid confusion with Frederik's Church in Frederiksstaden in the other side of the harbour, as well as to conmemorate Christian IV, the founder of the Christianshavn area. Since 1991 it has been a regular parish church for Christian's Parish which includes part of Christianshavn as well as Slotsholmen.
The church has a rectangular layout, the nave occupying the space between the shorter rather than the longer sides of the rectangle, giving it exceptional width. Standing on a granite plinth, the church is a yellow brick (Flensborg sten) building with sandstone finishing for the portal and tower. Ionic pilasters decorate the portal and the round-arched windows are tall and slender. The tower stands 70 metres high. Designed by Eigtved's son-in-law D. G. Anthon, the spire was added in 1769.
The unusual interior of Christian's Church is reminiscent of a theatre. In addition to the benches on either side of the nave, three tiers of galleries complete with boxes rise the full height of the building on the northern, western and southern sides. They are all arranged to provide the congregation with an excellent view of the podium on the eastern side which is reminiscent of a stage. It is dominated by the tall slender altarpiece which consists not only of the altar table itself but also of the pulpit above it and the organ at the very top. The ornate entrance, topped by the royal box, is opposite the altar and under the tower on the western side.
The organ stands in the integrated altarpiece above a clock face in the medieval tradition. The original instrument was built in 1759 by the leading authority of the day, Hartvig Jochum Müller. In 1917, I. Starup built a new pneumatic instrument on Müllers facade, and in 1976 the church acquired today's organ designed by P.-G. Andersen.
The church also has a large crypt covering the full area of the nave above. Divided into 48 burial chapels, it has been used for burials ever since the church's consecration in 1759 and is still in use today.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.