The Italian Synagogue of Padua is the only synagogue in city still in use from the Renaissance through World War II. It was built in 1584 and restored in 1581, 1631, 1830, and 1865. It was closed in 1892 when the community built a modern synagogue, but reopened after the war because in 1943 fascists burned the modern synagogue.
The synagogue is located in the historic ghetto. The baroque synagogue measures 18 by 7 meters. As is usual in Italian synagogues, the Bimah and Torah Ark are located at opposite sides of the room, with the space in between left vacant to accommodate the processional. What is unusual about the synagogue at Padua is that the Ark and Bimah are placed on the synagogues's long walls.
The baroque, sixteenth century Torah Ark is made from the wood of a plane tree that was struck down by lightning in the University's famous botanical garden. It features gilded doors, four Corinthian columns made of black marble with white veining, and carved foliage. The balduchin is in the form of a broken pediment.
The ceiling is coffered and painted. The area between the Torah Ark and Bimah is a coffered barrel vault, with large, heavily-carved baroque rosettes in each recess.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.