The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ or the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights in St. Petersburg, Russia. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. It should not to be confused with the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, located in the city of Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II (1868–1918) and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.
Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. On March 13, 1881, as Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later. A temporary shrine was erected on the site of the attack while the project for a more permanent memorial was undertaken. It was decided that the section of the street where the assassination had taken place was to be enclosed within the walls of a church. The embankment was therefore extended out into the canal to allow the shrine to fit comfortably within the building and to provide space on the exterior wall for a memorial marking the spot where the assassination took place. Inside, an elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander’s death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones. Amid such rich decoration, the simple cobblestones on which the tsar’s blood was spilled and which are exposed in the floor of the shrine provide a striking contrast.
Photograph taken 12th July 1999.