Just like most of the countries around the world, notably in Europa and Asia, religion has a powerful impact on the country, Russia was no exception. Religion had many impacts on people and government in Russia for centuries. One of the powerful religion in Russia is the Orthodox church. Several orthodox cathedrals including the largest one in Russia built in St. Petersburg, the Kazan Cathedral is one of those.
The Kazan Cathedral locates in the heart of Nevsky street near the Griboedova canal. The 6200 m2 cathedral is 71.6 m high and before construction of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral, in 1858, was the largest Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Andrey Voronikhin assigned to build the cathedral, in 1801. He decided to build a replica of the St. Peter's Basilica Cathedral in Rome, but some of the Orthodox church people opposed the idea to build a duplicate of a Catholic church in back then capital of Russia, But the others were impressed by the Imperial design of the Cathedral and got Andrey Voronikhin's back. Some talks are suggesting that Paul the first, emperor of Russia until 1801, desired to build a copy of the cathedral on the other side of the Nevsky which never happened.
The exterior of the cathedral is hardly unnoticeable, the west to the east wing decorated with a large dome at the center with a gilt cross installed on top of it, and curved shape wings with many Petoskey stone columns guarding the front. The interior designed with 56 pink Finnish granite and the floor tessellated with pink and gray marble. The wall paintings and iconography is the main structure of the interior design of the cathedral.
The naming of the cathedral dates back to the 16th century when Ivan the Terrible conquered the Kazan, in 1579, and set half the city on fire including half of the Kazan Kremlin. After the fire was extinguished, a little girl named Matrone claimed that Virgin Mary visited her in her sleep and told her the location of the Our Lady of Kazan icon which was hidden by the Christians back when Muslims raided the area. After the Icon retrieved, it transported to the Annunciation Cathedral. During transportation, two blind men declared that they're cured by the Icon wonderwork and after that many others claimed the same thing till the point that people told the same story about the Icon's copies as well.
Since the Icon saved in the Cathedral, it gave its name to the Cathedral as well. When Napoleon invaded Russia, Kutuzov, one of the army's general asked the Our Lady from Kazan icon for victory in the battles. After the victory against French, people recognized the cathedral as a monument of victory in the first patriotic war. The general Kutuzov himself buried in the cathedral, and Boris Orlovsky built a bronze statue of Kutuzov in front of the cathedral, in 1837. After the October Revolution, in 1917, the Kazan cathedral closed and abandoned until 1932. At that time, the government decided to dedicate the cathedral area to the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, or as one of the contemporary writer said: "The Leningrad Largest Anti-Religion Museum."
The Kazan Cathedral name mentioned as one of the most well-constructed structures in Russia since you can observe the glory and majestic look in both the exterior and the interior of it. The Large bronze door of the cathedral is one of the four copies of the famous Florence Baptistery's door. While the Kazan Cathedral was a model of the Saint Peter's Basilica Cathedral in Rome, it became the model for famous Helsinki Cathedral in Finland.
The Kazan Cathedral has always been the place of worship and imperial ceremonies before the October Revolution, and after that turned into the Museum of History of Religion and Atheist until 1992, and gave back to the Orthodox church, in 1996. However, the church didn't cut the relation with the Museum even after reclaiming the cathedral and continued to work with them until 2001, the date that they've agreed on with the government. The Icon of Our lady from Kazan returned to the Cathedral from Saint Prince Vladimir's Cathedral after the Museum vacated the place, in 2002. However, many believed that the Icon is a fine replica from the th16th century, and the real Icon destroyed in 1904, but the church never accepted it.
It's true that like all the tourist's spots in St. Petersburg and Russia, the Kazan Cathedral is packed with people all the time as well, and you can notice tourists in Kazan square around the Cathedral's pond. However, the cathedral had always been the place to worship the god, so the administration graciously asked the visitors not to break the pure calmness that runs in the place.
It's not hard to imagine why the Kazan Cathedral is one of the main targets for the tourists in St. Petersburg with the impressive exterior and the beautiful interior of the cathedral with amazing wall-paintings and Iconography, especially "Our Lady from Kazan" icon, the Kuzutov's grave and the war memorials, it is so exciting to visit the place.
The Kazan Cathedral, besides all the history and sufferings, keeping the relationship with the museum, and overcrowding area, kept its main goal as a cathedral and gave religious services as well as the ceremonies. Since Nevsky street is very popular among tourists and tour agencies, It's almost impossible for anyone not to visit this street during their stay. The Kazan Cathedral located at the heart of this street, right in front of the Singer House building, so it would be quite pleasant to visit the place even for a short visit.
Besides the Kazan Cathedral, you can find several other churches and cathedrals on your travel to St. Petersburg. We also introduced several other cathedrals in St. Petersburg which you can find in our blog at Star Travel Group.