Begun as a three-aisle hall church at about the same time as the town Ribnitz was founded, the oldest pre-Romanesque parts of the St. Mary's Church are located in the western outer wall of the building. Pilister corner strips, a rounded frieze and lanset windows are amongst other remanents of this first church.
In the 14th century, the church was enlarged by the addition of two bays, and decorated by the addition of peaked arch portals in the north of south of these. After a 1455 fire, the building was rebuilt with a pentagonal choir bay and a massive ornamental helm on the top of the spire. The Great fire of 1759 destroyed this ornamental helm, as well as the building's vaulting and medieval interior. Under instruction of the court masterbuilder Johann Jachim Busch of Ludwigsluster, the tower's roof and its interior was rebuilt in a Gothic style.
The centre aisle of the church was distinguished from this time on by a semi-circular barrel-shaped timber supports, the side-aisles by a flat wooden roof. Busch envisaged a pulpit alter, and after the pulpit was relocated into the church nave, the alter was completed with the addition of the Ludwigluster court painter J.H. Surlandt; the image is a copy of Annibale Carraci's 'The Burial of Christ'. The church's northern and southern side-chapels were never restored due to insufficient funds, with the foundations also removed. Between 1841 and 1843, Georg Adolph Demmler oversaw the addition of a latern to the of a Baroque-style tower crown, heighening the tower, which still offers a sightseeing platform to visitors. In the 1970s, the church was threatened by structural damage, losing once more much of its interior: the 1883 organ, built by Friese of Schwerin, was removed. After 1980, the church was renovated, the interior again altered and a winter church on the site added.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.