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Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a very grand Cathedral in Moscow, on the bank of the Moscow River.

When the last of Napoleon's soldiers left Moscow, Tsar Alexander I signed a manifesto, December 25, 1812, declaring his intention to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

It took some time for actual work on the projected cathedral to get started. The first finished architectural project was endorsed in 1817 and work was begun, but the site proved insecure and boggy, so in 1832 a new design was approved and in 1837 a new site was chosen by the Tsar. A convent and church on the site had to be relocated, so that the cornerstone was not laid until 1839. The Cathedral took years to build and didn't emerge from its scaffolding until 1860; elaborate frescos continued in the interior for another twenty years. The Cathedral was consecrated at the very day Alexander III was crowned, May 26, 1883.

Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" was debuted in the Cathedral in 1882.

After the Revolution, the prominent site of the Cathedral called out for redevelopment by the Soviets, who planned to replace this monument to Czarist religion and 'outdated' religious sentiment with a new monument, a megalomaniacal Palace of the Soviets that would rise in modernistic buttressed tiers to support a gigantic sculpture of Lenin, arm raised in blessing, perched atop a dome. On December 5, 1931, in the depths of the worldwide economic depression, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble.

Funds for the largest building in the world remained unavailable, however. A foundation hole gaped on the site until under Nikita Khrushchev it was transformed into a huge public swimming pool.

With the end of the Soviet regime, the Russian Orthodox Church lost no time in requesting permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in February 1990. A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year. A construction fund was opened in 1992 and foundations began to be poured in the fall of 1994. The lower church (Church of the Transfiguration was consecrated in 1996, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated August 19, 2000.

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