Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral or Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor (Russian: Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р), also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia.


The construction was started in 1801 and continued for ten years (supervised by Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov). Upon its completion the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos which was disassembled when the Kazan Cathedral was baptized.

It was modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Some art historians assert that Emperor Paul intended to build a similar church on the other side of the Nevsky that would mirror the Kazan Cathedral but his plans failed to materialize. Although the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the plans to create a replica of the Catholic basilica in Russia's then capital, several courtiers supported Voronikhin's Empire Style design.

After Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, and the commander-in-chief Mikhail Kutuzov asked Our Lady of Kazan for help, the church's purpose was to be altered. The Patriotic War over, the cathedral was perceived primarily as a memorial to the Russian victory against Napoleon. Kutuzov himself was interred in the cathedral in 1813; and Alexander Pushkin wrote celebrated lines meditating over his sepulchre. In 1815, keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses were brought by the victorious Russian army from Europe and placed in the cathedral's sacristy. In 1837, Boris Orlovsky designed two bronze statues of Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly in front of the cathedral.

In 1876, the Kazan demonstration, the first political demonstration in Russia, took place in front of the church. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the cathedral was closed. In 1932, it was reopened as the pro-Marxist "Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism." Services were resumed in 1992; and four years later the cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Now it is the mother cathedral of the metropolis of St. Petersburg.

The cathedral's interior, with its numerous columns, echoes an outward colonnade and is reminiscent of a palatial hall 69 metres in length, 62 metres in height. The interior features numerous sculptures and icons executed by the best Russian artists of the day. A wrought iron grille, separating the cathedral from a small square behind, is sometimes cited as one of the finest ever created.