Construction began in 1883 during the reign of Alexander III. The church was dedicated to be a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Estimates suggest that the construction cost 4.5 million rubles. The construction was complete during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors. The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal; paved roads run along both sides of the canal. On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander's carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Saviour 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 meters 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. 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 rubles 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.
This post is part of the Scenic Weekends meme,
and also part of the Spiritual Sundays meme,
and also part of the inSPIREd Sunday meme.