The Shocking Origin of Russia's Church on Spilled Blood

As far as Russian landmarks go, few rival the spectacular Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, located at the heart of St. Petersburg. 

In fact, this structure along with St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow are top-of-mind for when one thinks of icons that are "authentically Russian".

* However, this awe-inspiring building holds a very dark and shocking origin story.

* But before we get into that, let's take a moment to admire the Church's ornately decorated facade.

* Built in 1907, the Church serves as a perfect example of the Romantic Nationalistic style of architecture, which evokes traditional (even folksy) Russian features such as onion domes.

* The interior of the Church is strikingly colorful, and richly decorated with artwork depicting scenes from the life of Christ, as well as an assortment of Christian saints, bishops, and holy people.

* Serving as a beacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, and sharing all the elements of the Orthodoxy worldwide, but in a whole different level of magnificence.

* Check out the fantastic detail!

* Explanation boards can be found everywhere; befitting the church's current status as a museum and tourist attraction, not just a place of worship.

* With tourists and the Orthodox faithful, always seen wearing veils to signify their faith, coexisting in this spiritual place.

* So many stories, from every point of view!

* Prepare to spend more than 70% of your time inside, looking up, to admire every nook and cranny.

* All in all, the Church containing an astounding 7,500 square meters of mosaics, the most in any church in the world!

* Kind of like the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but holy!

* So why is the edifice referred to as the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood? What is its shocking origin?

* The Church was in fact built on the ground that the Russian Tsar, Alexander II, was assassinated on over a century ago.

* Back in 1881, on an area that used to be a paved road running on the side of a canal, Russian anarchists, armed with grenades, waited for the carriage containing the Russian Tsar to pass by.

* And as the grenades exploded, leaving the Tsar to bleed all over the area with his legs torn, stomach ripped open, and face mutilated (in the exact area denoted by the memorial above), chaos ensued with the royal guard quickly whisking the dying Emperor away to the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage) where he soon succumbed to his wounds.

* Leaving the dead Tsar's son and heir, Alexander III, to hunt down, torture, and execute all conspirators. 

* And in the process erect this Church on the grounds of that heinous and bloody attack.

* Unfortunately, Alexander II would not be the last Tsar to die horribly with the end of the Romanov Dynasty coming over 30 years later.

* Today the area is one of St. Petersburg's most popular sites with trendy cafes, restaurants, and activities like kayaking being a big hit for all visitors. 

* With one such restaurant, offering fantastic Georgian cuisine resembling kebabs, serving as our lunch and recharge stop that morning.


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