Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was commissioned by
Emperor Paul I in 1801 and built during reign of Alexander I who
took the throne after his father was assassinated. The layout of this Russian Orthodox Church was designed
by a serf architect Andrey Voronikhin who was inspired by Cathedral of
Saint Paul in Rome. Its most distinct feature is a curved colonnade (111
m or 364 feet) that runs parallel to Nevskiy Prospekt. Church was
completed in 1811, just a year before invasion of Napoleon and his
twelfth nation army. This coincidence tied Kazan Cathedral with the
Patriotic War of 1812 and its heroes. Both ends of the external
colonnade has two statues. One is that of Mikhail Barclay de Tolly
(1761- 1818) and the other of Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov (1745-
1813). Kutuzov who was described in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace
is also buried here.
Kazan Cathedral was dedicated to the miracle working icon
of Our Lady of Kazan. It is one of four most revered icons in Russia.
Today it is kept inside, although its survival is a miracle of its own.
During Communist period Kazan Cathedral was taken from Russian Orthodox
Church and turned into Museum of Atheism. Icon of Kazan was preserved
for its historic value. Fortunately in 1999 the church was returned back
to its rightful owners and today it is open for believers and tourists
alike. The interior of the Kazan Cathedral is similar to pagan Greek and
Roman temples of antiquity. Pink granite columns surround the central
main room of the church.