Probably, this is the only temple in Russia, which isn’t called church or cathedral. Informally as well as formally it was always called temple – the Temple of Christ the Saviour. It is the main temple not only of Moscow but the entire Russia. This is the main temple of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Temple of Christ the Saviour was dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ who saved Russia from the armies of Napoleon in 1812. Alexander I issued the manifesto about the construction of the temple I on the same day as the remaining soldiers of the French army crossed the Niemen and left the territory of Russia.
The Manifesto issued on December 25th 1812 read as follows: «The saving of Russia from the enemies as numerous as evil and fierce, with their defeat done in only six months, is a clear sign of Our Lord`s goodness to Russia. In order to thank Him who has saved Russia from the imminent perdition, we intend to build the Temple of Christ the Saviour in Moscow».
They began to build the temple in 1816, but the original project of А. Witberg provided for erection of the giant temple complex on the Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). However, very fast the ground on the slope of the hill began to sink under the foundation, and besides, the construction required quite exorbitant costs, so the project was completely rejected.
Nicolas I selected a new construction site for the temple in 1832. The architect who de-signed the temple was Konstantin Thon (he also built the Great Kremlin Palace). The construction was finished 50 years later, in 1883.
The project of Thon provided for the construction of more «modest» temple, but all the same it became one of the tallest temples of the Russian Orthodox Church. It reached the height of 112 meters. The Altar of the temple was done as a separate chapel, and the walls and ceilings were painted by the most outstanding artists of that time. The main room of the cathedral is surrounded by halls, which walls were hanged with 177 marble panels with names of officers who fell in the war with Napoleon inscribed on them, as well as descriptions of the events of 1812 war and foreign campaign of the Russian army.
In 1931 Bolsheviks decided to blow up this temple, and build a huge building of the Congress Palace instead, which should be 5 times as big as the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It was provided to install a giant statue of Lenin at the roof of the palace. However, the plans were never to come true. At first, nearly for 1.5 years, they can`t clear up the construction site, then they failed to prevent the foundation pit from filling with water, and, finally, the con-struction was suspended because of the war. After the victory the ruined country simply hadn’t enough resources for such kind of projects. Under Khrushchev the idea of the Congress Palace was given up altogether, and it was decided to fill the foundation pit up to the brim if it still continued to fill up. So, there appeared the open-air swimming-pool ‘Moscow’ on this place.
In 1994 it was decided to restore the church. They managed to reconstruct the exact rep-lica of the temple using the drawings and photos. Already in 2000 the cathedral was conse-crated, and there were held the first carol service on January 7th. After the destruction of the cathedral the Elohov Cathedral was made the main temple of the Russian Orthodox Church, but just after its consecration the Temple of Christ the Saviour was returned its previous status.
Today around the Temple of Christ the Saviour a beautiful recreation zone is being developed where you can rest or have promenades. The river is spanned with the pedestrian bridge from which you can have a magnificent view of the Kremlin. Also in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral the Pushkin Museum is located, one of the most famous foreign art museums in Russia. If you visit the cathedral in the first half of the day, you may turn to administrator and register for an excursion to the colonnade of the cathedral. You can do it only if you join some excursion. You can`t visit the colonnade for yourself.