The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic constructions. They comprise the elaborate Er-Grah tumulus passage grave, a dolmen known as the 'Table des Marchand' (Merchant's Table) and 'The Broken Menhir of Er Grah', the largest known single block of stone to have been transported and erected by Neolithic man.
The Broken Menhir of Er Grah was erected around 4700 BC, at the same time as another 18 blocks nearby, it is thought to have been broken around 4000 BC. Measuring 20.60 metres, with a weight of 280 tonnes, the stone is from a rocky outcrop located several kilometres away from Locmariaquer. The impressive dimensions of this menhir still divide specialists about the techniques used for transport and erection, but the fact that this was achieved during the Neolithic era remains remarkable.
The Table des Marchand is a large dolmen containing a number of decorations. The main capstone of the chamber includes a large carving on its underside depicting an axe, and part of a carved depiction of a plough, apparently pulled by oxen. This fragment indicates that the capstone was originally part of the broken menhir, since the design matches up with carvings on the broken remains across the breaks. Other parts were used in the tumulus and in the nearby dolmen of Gavrinis, on a nearby island. The stone at the back of the chamber contained an engraved stele with whorls and arched decorations which may represent fields of crops.
The Er-Grah tumulus is 140 metres long. It was probably originally constructed in the fifth millennium BC as a cairn, which was extended in both directions. A pavement surrounded the stepped structure. The capstone indicates that the monument was completed at around 3,300 BC.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.