Gems of Saint Petersburg: 5 Facts You (Probably) Didn’t Know about the Church on Spilled Blood

What is the first image that comes to your mind when you think of Saint Petersburg? The green-and-white façades of gorgeous Winter Palace? Magnificent views of the Neva River? Or maybe the mosaic Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood? We’ll start our virtual travel to Russia with a visit to Saint Petersburg and one of its most beautiful temples. The “Spas-na-Krovi” Church has many names: the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood or simply the Savior on Spilled Blood…

Why is it called “on Spilled Blood”?

Let’s recap briefly the history of the church. On March 13, 1881, Russian tsar Alexander II was fatally wounded by a terrorist’s bomb on the Griboedov Canal embankment. Two years later, his sun Alexander III started the construction of the Church which was intended to be a tribute to his father. The church stands on that very spot where the bomb was thrown… Hence the reference to spilled blood. The building was completed in 1907 during the reign of Nicholas II, so it took 24 years and cost about 4.5 million rubles!


The proportions of the church were not chosen by accident. For example, its height – 81 meters – represents the year of the tsar’s murder. The height of its second dome is 63 meters which symbolizes the age of Alexander II when he was killed.


The cathedral’s architecture is quite different from most of the buildings in Saint Petersburg. While the city’s main architectural styles are Baroque and Neoclassical, the Church on Spilled Blood is executed the medieval Russian style and looks (purposely) very similar to the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. This is why tourists often mistake one for the other.

✔ “Savior on Potatoes”

In difficult Soviet times, the new authorities used the temple as a vegetable storage. The citizens even started calling it jokingly the “Savior on Potatoes”. Actually, they were half-joking: the storage really saved lives in hungry times. However, it wasn’t the worst thing that happened to the cathedral. During the Siege of Leningrad, the Savior on Blood served as a… morgue.

Mosaic collection

Despite its rough history, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood amazes with its beauty and magnificence. Its unique mosaic collection of 7,065 square meters (23,130 square feet) is one of the largest in Europe! The mosaics are based on the paintings of famous Russian artists, including Mikhail Vrubel, Viktor Vasnetsov and Mikhail Nesterov…

We encourage you to use your imagination and enjoy the virtual trips with us before you can take the real ones! For more information about our tours visit our website Amparus Tour.

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