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St Pete's famous church outdoes Alhambra in terms of tourist popularity

May 19, 2016, 2:26 UTC+3 St PETERSBURG

A year ago, tourists from different countries named the Savior on Spilled Blood the most interesting attraction in Russia

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The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood

© ITAR-TASS / Yuri Belinsky, archive

St PETERSBURG, May 19. /TASS/. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, one of the landmark architectural sights in St Petersburg, has outdone the Alhambra palace and fortress compound in Spain in terms, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Cathedral of Milan in terms of popularity among tourists in 2016, the TripAdvisor tourist portal said.

"The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood occupies the seventh position in the world and the third position in Europe on the list of most significant tourist sights five positions up versus the 2015 ranking," a spokesperson for the city's Committee for Development and Tourism said on Monday quoting TripAdvisor

"This year, the rating embraces 731 sights around the world," he said.

"A total of seven monuments of St Petersburg and its environs have been listed among the Top Ten tourist sights in Russia. Apart from the Savior on Spilled Blood, they are the St Isaac's Cathedral, the Palace Square, the Palace Bridge, the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Palace at Peterhof, and St Nicholas's Cathedral at Kronstadt. The list of most popular places visited by tourists in Russia also includes the Moscow Kremlin and the Kazan Kremlin.

A year ago, tourists from different countries named the Savior on Spilled Blood the most interesting attraction in Russia. Those polled by TripAdvisor also included it in the Top Five European architectural monuments and twelve most significant sights in the world.

The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid in 1883. It stands on the embankment of Griboyedov (Yekaterininsky) Canal right on the spot where the terrorist revolutionaries from the Popular Will organization bombed and wounded fatally Czar Alexander II on March 13, 1881.

Construction of the Church lasted a whole twenty-four years and was financed on private donations raised both in Russia and in the countries that were liberated from Ottoman domination during the Czar's reign. To commemorate the donators, more than a hundred mosaic emblems of cities, governorates and counties where the donations had come from were placed on the walls of the bell tower, while a gilded imperial crown on the cross serves symbolizes the allocations made by Russia's Imperial Family who were the biggest donators.

The unique mosaic ornamentation of the church is ranked among the largest collections of monumental mosaics in Europe. The Russian masters who were skilled in the Italian mosaic techniques outperformed the Italians and the Germans in a creative contest and did more than 600 icons and mosaic compositions occupying a total area of more than 7,000 sq m.

The mosaics were created over a period of nine years and the sketches for them were done by 32 artists including Viktor Vasnetsov and Mikhail Nesterov.

The icons in the church reflect the entire history of Russia from the early medieval time through to the end of the 19th century and feature all the highly revered Russian saints St Prince Alexander of the Neva, Princes Olga, St Duke Vladimir of Kiev and others.

The church was never used for full-fledged Eastern Orthodox services but was a place for remembrance prayers. The Soviet authorities closed it in 1930 and the building served for the next forty years as a warehouse and a morgue during the Siege of Leningrad from 1941 through 1944. Its restoration began in 1970 when it had placed under the management of the St Isaac's Cathedral museum, which runs it to this day.

Data provided by the Savior on Spilled Blood ticket offices shows more than a million Russian and foreign tourists visit it every year.

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