We got off at Kropotinskaya subway station, and when we walked up the last stairs, already saw a golden cupola high above us. When we emerged from the underground, a gigantic white church with golden domes towered high above us. We had arrived at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The sun was hesitant, and often hiding behind clouds, when we walked to the neatly organized small square under the platform on which the cathedral was built. Tulips and roses gave this area a cheerful atmosphere. On the other side, a statue of Alexander II solemnly looked down on all visitors. We walked up towards the cathedral, and the closer we got, the more we realized what an enormous building this was.
People were flocking to the entrance, and also walking around the walls of this house of God. Now that we were close enough, we started to notice the details. The heavy doors were full of sculptures, while the space above the doors was filled with yet more bronze reliefs. The four towers at the corners of the cathedral all had golden cupolas, while the main dome has a much larger golden cover. Higher up, in circular decorated sculptures, Christ, mother Mary and others were depicted. All together, it gave the cathedral a rich look; apparently, no effort had been spared to make it. While there were plenty of people coming to the church for prayers, many others just seemed to be here to enjoy its appearance. While walking away from the cathedral, using the footbridge connecting to an island in the Moskva river, the sun was shining always brighter, making the golden domes and the white cathedral stand out even more.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has a curious history. Originally, after the defeat of Napoleon, a cathedral was planned in Moscow, the location was finally decided at the current one, but construction was only started a few decades later, and works finished in 1860. At the time, it was a gigantic structure. However, the cathedral was doomed under the secularist policies of Stalin, and the carefully embellished cathedral, with frescoes and marble, was dynamited in 1931. The idea was to replace it with the Palace of the Soviets, which was supposed to be a large building with a massive statue of Lenin on top, but lack of funds and World War II prevented those plans to materialize. Instead, the empty lot was turned into the largest swimming pool of the world. It was only in the mid-1990s that plans to rebuild the cathedral were carried out, resulting in the present structure. The tallest Orthodox church in the world has replaced the largest swimming pool. It seems that it should now last longer than the original church.
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