Oct 13 2014
It’s a ChurchPoolChurch!
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was built over the span of 40 years, and opened in the 19th century. This church is the archetype of what all churches hope to be: it was the largest Orthodox Church ever built, and was a prime example of opulence. The inner sanctum was circumscribed by two galleries, the uppermost of which was for the church choir. The walls were covered with about 1,000 square meters of marble plaques depicting major accomplishments of the Patriotic War of 1812. The dome itself was the first in history to be gold-plated via the use of electroplating. Most impressive, however, was the twenty tons of gold recovered from the church after its demolition.
Despite all its glory, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was not saved from the wrath of the Soviets. It was targeted for demolition during the Soviets’ anti-religious campaign, for that site was to be used to construct a massive building, the Palace
of the Soviets. Eventually, in 1931, the building was filled with dynamite and destroyed. Some of the marble from the building was saved and used in the Moscow Metro, and some of the marble reliefs were saved and preserved and are on display today.
However, the construction of the palace halted when funds ran out and the nearby Moscow River flooded the construction site. The palace was eventually abandoned, and the construction site remained flooded. Eventually, however, Nikita Khrushchev turned the site into the world’s largest open air swimming pool (which was heated to boot!). The link below will show you people swimming in the pool, and also give you an idea of the size of it. Also note the snow on the ground, and the people walking around in heavy winter coats (All of the above except photos taken from “Cathedral of Christ the Saviour”).
The pool was eventually deconstructed, and an (almost) exact replica of the original cathedral was built in its place, and the completed cathedral was opened on 19 August 2000 (“Cathedral of Christ the Saviour”).
The destruction of the original cathedral is a sad example of how ruthless the Soviets were during their anti-religious campaign, destroying something of such beauty in the name of societal unity and revolution. However, the fact that the palace-in-construction was eventually turned into a communal swimming pool (even though that was not the original plan) is indicative of the strong bond the average man felt with his comrades. For a Palace of Soviets could be used only by the select few elite of society, but instead a heated public pool was put in its place. This was indicative of the shift in Russian thinking away from focus on the individual and towards others; away from benefiting the one and towards that of the collective.
“Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
“Moscow’s Open-Air Heated Swimming Pool (1961).” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqmLXFA-hxI>.
Featured image taken from http://02varvara.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/18-february-2009-a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words-the-revival-shall-not-be-televised-the-revival-shall-be-live/putin-in-church-at-the-presentation/
October 13, 2014 @ 5:23 pm
The destruction of the Cathedral is one of the saddest events of the history of the Soviet Union. This building was one of the most recognizable places in Russia, and I feel like this would be comparable to the destruction of the Lincoln or Washington Monument. The fact that the government would later fail to rebuild on this site shows an interesting paradox within the government. While they were trying to push the unification of everyone and diminishing the role of individuals, the inability of the government to rebuild something that could serve as a replacement for the Cathedral proves the lack of industrial ability the U.S.S.R. still faced. While they were claiming the state was moving more and more towards socialism, how successful this transformation would be was challenged by failures such as this.
October 13, 2014 @ 11:02 pm
This is pretty impressive and crazy all wrapped up in one. I agree that the loss of architecture, and such a beautiful church, is a shameful result of Stalin’s soviet communism. The palace would have been an even worse showing of Soviet thought if it had been completed, but the silver lining of making a public swimming pool does lend credit the regime being about the people.
October 14, 2014 @ 1:36 am
The swimming pool really was impressive — and it looked just like the British Pathe film clip you used (from the 60s) in the 80s. I couldn’t imagine how expensive it was to heat that a pool of that size in the dead of winter.