After years of planning, discussions and protests, the design for the reconstruction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg have been finalized. Construction of the cathedral is expected to be completed by 2023, when the Ural city marks its 300th anniversary. The large-scale project will also include the development of the adjacent territory.
The announcement was made on 7th December, the day in which Ekaterinburg celebrates its heavenly patroness.
St. Catherine is currently immortalized in Ekaterinburg only by means of a chapel on Labour (formerly Ekaterinskaya Square), the original site of the cathedral. St. Catherine’s Cathedral was closed on 15th February 1930, and subsequently demolished the following month on 15th March.
On 18th August 1991, a memorial cross was erected, on the place where the altar of the former cathedral was located. A prayer service is held here each year in honour of the feast of St. Catherine ( 7 December). In 1998, the year marking the 275th anniversary of Ekaterinburg, a stone chapel with five domes designed by architect A.V. Dolgov was erected.
In March 2010, the Ekaterinburg Diocese with the support of the Governor of Sverdlovsk announced a plan to reconstruct the cathedral. This plan was met with much opposition, especially after the idea to erect a “church on the water” was proposed. Protests forced organizers to reconsider the location. For more information, please refer to my article Proposed Ekaterinburg Cathedral Divides City, published on 14 March 2017.
After further debate, other sites were considered. The final choice for the construction of the cathedral will be on the Oktyabrskaya (also known as Drama Theater) Square, which is situated on the embankment of the City Pond near the Yeltsin Center.
“People should see that we respect our history and respect traditions, since the Church of St. Catherine was originally the historical foundation of our city,”- said Alexander Andreev, Director of the St. Catherine Foundation – “the cathedral was blown up in 1930, and the city has been living with a shattered foundation for nearly a century. In our understanding (and judging by the results of a poll conducted by the Socium Foundation), the construction of the cathedral is to correct a mistake based on Soviet dogma and the restoration of historical justice.”
The original plan was to construct the cathedral in the Russian Revival style, reflecting the style that arose in second quarter of the 19th century and was an eclectic melding of pre-Petrine Russian architecture and elements of Byzantine architecture. This idea, however, was abandoned, and the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was taken as the basis for the new project, it will feature five-pillars and five-domes, designed according to the traditions of Old Russian architecture.
According to the first project renderings by architect Vladimir Rudnev from APM-1 bureau, the height of the cathedral was 58 meters. However, after all the improvements, the cathedral will now reach a height of 75 meters. According to the chief architect of Ekaterinburg, Andrei Molokov, the building will now blend more successfully into the city’s skyline.
The exterior decoration of the cathedral will be made from Vladimir limestone, decorated with carvings, and gilded copper domes. At night, the building will be illuminated with architectural lighting.
” The interior of the cathedral will be decorated with mosaics,” – said Alexander Andreev – “This is a unique project for Russia, which we plan to complete and consecrate by 2023. It should be noted, however, that some of the works, such as frescoes on the walls, the creation of which takes a large amount of time, will be completed after the official opening.”
The cathedral will be designed to accommodate a maximum of 2.5 thousand worshipers. The first floor will include a church shop and a tea room for parishioners, a room for tanks with holy water, a baptismal room, a hall for the Patriarch, priests and guests, as well as a refectory and rooms for the clergy. On the second floor, the architects will provide a prayer hall for 800 people.
According to the architects, not only a cathedral, but also a new urban space will be created. As Alexander Andreev explains, the park and Oktyabrskaya Square will be landscaped with more than 100 new trees. Moreover, the project will feature a pedestrian area between the drama theater and the Yeltsin Center. Also, the city embankment, which the city has not been upgraded since its construction, is subject to restoration.
The park itself will be divided into several zones – a children’s playground, a workout area and a skating rink.
“Our task is to “strengthen” this place, to attract there more young people”, – said Alexander Andreev – “It will be a new urban space. We are trying to create a comfortable urban environment and public space that will attract both adults and the younger generation. Our main task is to create a social and functional design. To this end, the project will involve the finest architects and designers.”
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 December 2018