Augustinian Church was originally built in 1327 as the parish church of the imperial court of the Habsburgs. In 1634, the Augustinerkirche became the parish church of the imperial church. As imperial church, many Habsburg weddings took place there, including the wedding of Archduchess (and future Empress) Maria Theresa in 1736 to Duke Francis of Lorraine, the wedding of Archduchess Marie Louise in 1810 to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France, and the wedding of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1854 to Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria.
The nave was built under architect Dietrich Landtner from 1330 to 1339, but not consecrated until 1 November 1349. As the nearby Hofburg expanded, the Augustinerkirche gradually became engulfed by it and today is a part of the complex. Although inconspicuous from the outside, the inside is more ornate. During the reign of Emperor Joseph II, 18 side altars were removed in 1784 when the church was restored in the gothic style. A new side altar was added in 2004, dedicated to Emperor Karl I of Austria (1887–1922) who is on the path to being recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Loreto Chapel, to the right of the main altar, holds the silver urns containing the hearts of Habsburg rulers, while their bodies are kept in the Imperial Crypt. Herzgruft contains the hearts of 54 members of the imperial family.
Notable among the church's monuments is the memorial to Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria sculpted by Antonio Canova, in 1805.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.