With its glimmering domes, startlingly white façade and imposing size, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior is hard to miss. However, seeing it from afar does it no justice its opulence is fully revealed only upon closer inspection. Tour its richly decorated interior, learn about its tumultuous history at its museum and look down upon the city from its lofty viewing deck.
Having been completed in 2000, this Russian Orthodox cathedral is still in its infancy compared to many other Moscow landmarks. It is a reconstruction of an earlier 19th-century Byzantine revival cathedral that was blown up by Stalin in 1931 to make room for the Palace of the Soviets, an ambitious project that never came to fruition. Instead, it was replaced with one of the world’s largest open-air swimming pools. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government spent $360 million on rebuilding. Visit the on-site museum to learn more about its eventful history.
As you approach, look for the cathedral’s gigantic golden dome crowning the immaculate white exterior. Note its resemblance to St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, which also features a glittering gold cupola.
The exterior is undeniably lavish, but you’ll have to step inside to appreciate its most treasured features. Examine one of only a few remaining artifacts from the original cathedral, the icon, Christ not Painted by Hand. Take the opportunity to inspect the surviving works of Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin, which are also kept within the cathedral walls. View the popular nativity shrine.
Take in the excellent views of Moscow from the church’s 130-foot (40-meter) high viewing deck. From here, you will be able to spot the spires of the Kremlin, home to the Russian government, as well as the trendy district of Zamoskvorechye.
If you would like to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, be aware that this is possible only as part of a tour group. Reach the cathedral via the Kropotkinskaya metro station and gaze upon its dazzling exterior.