The Church of the Resurrection (The Church of the Savior on Blood) is one of the most extraordinary churches in St Petersburg. Its vibrant, painterly composition and varicolored decor make it a bright, distinctive landmark in the surrounding architecture of the city’s center.
The Church of the Savior can be rightfully called “a Russian-style monument” in St Petersburg. As requested by Alexander III, A.A. Parland designed the church in the style of the 18th century Moscow and Yaroslav architecture. He imaginatively reworked the ideas of the ecclesiastical architecture of Prepetrine era to create a church that epitomizes the Russian Orthodox temple.
The church plan is a compact five-domed structure, made complete with three semicircular apses at the east end and a massive pillar-like bell tower at the west end. The octagonal tent-roofed tower takes up the central position. This element has a close affinity with a series of monumental memorial churches dating from 16th-17th centuries, characterized by a pronounced tall element meant to stress their special significance.
The Church is of red and brown brick, the entire surface of its walls is covered with elaborate detailed ornaments, similar to those produced by Moscow and Yaroslav masters of the 17th century – bands and crosses of coloured brick, polychrome tiles set in wall recesses – “shirinka”, glazed tiles on the tent-roofed towers and apse roofing, small open-work aches, miniature columns and kokoshniki (corbel arches) of white marble. The mosaics play a significant role in creating the church’s festive appearance accentuating the major architectural elements – kokoshniki, caissons, and pediments.
The five central domes of the Church are unique, copper-plated and enameled in different colors, they are reminiscent of polychrome domes of St Basil the Blessed Cathedral in Moscow, which is often compared to the Church of the Resurrection, despite their total difference in spatial planning. The smaller union-shaped cupolas atop the apses and the dome of the bell tower are, as is customary, gilded.
The memorial character of the Church is once again emphasized by 20 granite plaques in the wall base, describing Alexander II’s deeds as the tsar liberator and reformer, and by the enormous mosaic depiction of the Crucifixion, placed under the gilded awning on the western façade of the bell tower. The Crucifixion serves as another reminder of the assassination site contained under the church vaults and establishes a link between the anguishes of the Savior on the Golgotha and the tragic death of the Russian tsar on March 1, 1881.
The lower tier of the bell tower is embellished with 134 mosaic coat-of-arms of Russian provinces and towns that made donations for the church construction. These coat-of-arms make up the unique heraldic collection.