Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg is a neoclassical church located in the historic square of Place Royale in central Brussels. The medieval abbey church that originally stood on this location was demolished by command of Charles Alexander of Lorraine during his expansive urban planning projects, despite having escaped the great fire of 1731 that destroyed the nearby Coudenberg Palace. The new church was built in line with rue Montagne de la Cour/Hofberg on its present location at the Place Royale. Construction of the facade was started by architect Gilles-Barnabé Guimard after the designs of Jean-Benoît-Vincent Barré (1775). The first stone was solemnly laid by Charles Alexander of Lorraine on the 12th of February 1776. The portico was finished in 1780. The nave, transept, choir and sacristy were built under supervision of Louis Montoyer in the years 1785-1786. After the consecration of the building it was in use as abbey- and parishchurch at the same time. Moreover it was the official church of the court of the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands. The present building was designed to serve as the Church of the Abbey of Saint-Jacques on the Coudenberg and therefore has a deep extended choir with place for choir stalls for the monks.
During the French Revolution, the abbey was suspended and the church was made into a Temple of Reason, and then later into a Temple of Law. The church was returned to Catholic control in 1802. On July 21, 1831, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha took the oath that made him H.M. Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, on the front steps of the church. The building lost somewhat of its typical neoclassical temple-like appearance by the addition in the 19th-century of a bell tower (after the design of Tilman-François Suys) and a coloured fresco by Jean Portaels on the pediment.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.