The Church of St. Ouen is a large Gothic Roman Catholic church, famous for both its architecture and its large, unaltered Cavaillé-Coll organ. Built on a similar scale to nearby Rouen Cathedral, it is, along with church of Saint Maclou, one of the principal Gothic monuments of Rouen.
The church was originally built as the abbey church of Saint Ouen for the Benedictine Order, beginning in 1318 and interrupted by the Hundred Years' War and sacked and badly damaged during the Harelle. It was completed in the 15th century in the Flamboyant style. It was dedicated at first to St. Peter when the body of St. Ouen, Archbishop of Rouen (d. 678), was buried there; the name of St. Peter and St. Ouen became common and finally St. Ouen only. In 1660 the monastery was united to the Congregation of St. Maur, and when suppressed, in 1794, the community numbered twenty-four. The abbey building itself was vacated by the time of the French Revolution and was subsequently occupied by the Town Hall of Rouen.
The church is 137m long with 33 m high vaults. The central crossing is surmounted by an unusual lantern-style tower similar to that at Ely Cathedral in England. The tower was completed in the Flamboyant style. The well-preserved stained glass of the nave dates to the 15th and 16th centuries, and features jewel tones among panels of clear and frosted white glass. These materials allow more light to filter into the nave, creating a brighter interior than is typical of Gothic churches. Despite the use of Flamboyant tracery in the aisles, triforium, and clerestory, the nave maintains a conservative appearance through the use of compound piers, trumpet bases, and capitals which helps maintain harmony throughout the edifice. The west façade was never completed during the Middle Ages. It was constructed between 1846 and 1851 in a Neo-Gothic style that bears little resemblance to the original Late Gothic designs.
The church contains a large four-manual pipe organ built in 1890 by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. This instrument is considered to be one of the most important organs in France, and is notable for its unusually powerful 32' Contre Bombarde. The organ stands unaltered and thus is one of the few of the master's works to speak with its original voice.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.