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Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Khram Khrista Spasitelya), Moscow

Ulitsa Volkhonka Dom 15
Russia 101000
Tel: 7 495 637 2847's insider take:

Built in honor of Russia's victory over Napoleon in 1812, the original Cathedral of Christ the Savior was dynamited at Stalin's orders and slated for replacement by a Palace of Soviets to be topped by a huge statue of Lenin. That was never built, and the hole in the ground was turned into an open-air swimming pool where clandestine baptisms were reportedly held in Soviet times. In the 1990s, Moscow's powerful mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, rebuilt the cathedral, having it decorated in ornate marble, gilt, and pastel frescoes—regarded as an excessive folly during the steep economic decline of the post-Soviet years. Now, however, it has grown into its role as Russia's main cathedral. In April 2007, President Boris Yeltsin's funeral was held there—the first Christian burial of a Russian leader since 1894—and a month later President Putin attended the reunification ceremonies for the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church that had been split by the Bolshevik Revolution. In the basement, there's a museum of the cathedral's history, as well as a good souvenir and icon shop. An observation deck near the dome offers spectacular Kremlin views and overlooks the Ostozhenka neighborhood around the cathedral, which is becoming Moscow's billionaire row.

Services are held Mondays through Fridays at 8 am and 5 pm; Saturdays at 9 am (in the basement church) and 5 pm; Sundays at 10 am; the eve of major feast days at 5 pm; major feast days at 9 am. All except the 9 am Saturday services are held in the main cathedral. Tours are available daily 9 am to 6 pm; tickets can be purchased near the entrance to the cathedral's lower level on Soimonovsky Proyezd. Keep in mind, the cathedral has a two-tier pricing system and charges foreigners more.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.