Seili (Själo in Swedish) is a small island in the Archipelago Sea. The island is known for its church and nature, a research institute and a former hospital. The first hospital on Seili was established in the 1620s. Before that there were two farms on the islands belonging to the Crown and thus available when the authorities looked for a suitable island to which the leper hospital at the outskirts of Turku could be moved.
According to a Royal Decree in 1619 by King Gustav Adolf of Sweden, the buildings of the hospital in Turku, with the exception of the chapel, were burned down and the inmates transported to Seili. The Selihospital for lepers was dedicated to St George. The last leper patient died in 1785, and the establishment on Seili became a hospital or a place of confinement for mentally afflicted people until 1962. The hospital was self-sufficient with agriculture, and fishing. The present-day buildings on the island, with the exception of the chapel, date from the 19th and the 20th centuries, and most of them have been built for the mental hospital.
The wooden chapel of Seili was built in as a replacement of the Church of Saint George, the former hospital church which had been transferred to Seili from Turku in the beginning of the 17th century. The museum church has a cross-shaped plan and it is made of pinewood grown in archipelago islands. The original untreated wooden surface can still be seen inside the church and nowadays it is beautifully patinated by passed centuries. The only colourful objects in the otherwise quite barren but impressive interior are the pulpit decorated by C.J. von Holthusen and the modernistic altarpiece The Storm on Lake Genesaret painted by the Finnish artist Helge Stén.
Currently the island hosts the Archipelago Research Institute that is a part of the University of Turku. The island is open to the public in summertime and there are guided tours available. During the summer season, the connecting ferry m/s Östern operates on the Nauvo-Seili-Hanka (Aasla, Rymättylä) route. Therefore, Seili is accessible from both Nauvo and Hanka.
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.