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St PETERSBURG, December 27. /TASS/. One of the largest and most known churches in St Petersburg, the St Prince Vladimir's cathedral has opened after a a major restoration, the first one since the commissioning of the edifice 225 years ago.
Also on Sunday, a bishop's liturgy was held in the Cathedral to round up the St Petersburg part of the programme of festivities timed for the 1,000th anniversary since the death of Vladimir the Duke of Kiev, who baptized the early medieval kingdom of Kievan Rus in 988.
"The were no redecorations in the cathedral as of the moments of its opening and it has undergone restoration for the first time," a spokesman for the St Petersburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church told TASS. "
"This is one of the few churches in this city that has never been closed, although four attempts were made in the 1930's to close it down," he said.
The restoration that was fully funded from the city's budget continued for about a years, without a single scheduled service missed out at the same time. A whole five months were taken up by restoration of the crosses the unparalleled works of art. The biggest bell in the cathedral's belfry weighs 400 kg and the total weight of all other bells is about 300 kg.
The restorers fully revived the manual foundry of of 1766 when the crosses tiled with copper and gilded with leaf gold along the precepts of an olden technology.
By the end of the restoration works, the building also received a new system of outside illumination and brightening. It includes 84 searchlights placed on ten new aluminum pylons and 60 photodiode light attachments. One of the tallest architectural dominants in the part of the city that is known as the Petrograd side, it will now be seen at nighttime from different spots in the city.
The St Prince Vladimir's cathedral was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi, Catherine the Great's court architect, and commissioned in 1789. It has the status of the main church of the knights of the St Vladimir's Order, one of the highest awards in the Russian Empire before 1917.
During the Soviet era, it was partly used as a depot for icons and other Orthodox Christian relics and shrines from the churches that had been closed by the authorities espousing an ideology of state-sponsored atheism.
It acquired special prominence as a center of religious and spiritual life during the Nazi Siege of Leningrad that lasted 900 days from 1941 through 1944. Its clergymen and assistants took part in the air defense of Leningrad.