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Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Introduction

The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the spiritual symbols of Kazan. Located in the historical centre of the city near the Kremlin, the majestic cathedral significantly stands out among the city’s architecture with its vivid details – an amazing facade decor is entwined with a vine and other plant patterns. It was built in honor of the apostles Peter and Paul and is designed in the Russian Baroque style. Among the main shrines of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is the miraculous Icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes, transferred to the cathedral from the church of Yaroslavl.

  

Historical reference

Architecture

Shrines

Interesting Facts

How to get there

Church service

Excursions

 

Historical reference

The construction of the Cathedral is associated with the name of Tsar Peter I, who visited Kazan three times: the first visit took place in 1695 when Peter the Great made the Azov campaign, the second – in 1708 – at the opening of a large Admiralty in Kazan on the Volga River. And the third time, Peter I again stopped here, while heading for the battle of Persia in 1722. This time he stayed at the house of the famous merchant Ivan Mihlyaev. Peter I celebrated his 50th birthday on May 30 in Kazan. In memory of this event, Ivan Mihlyaev decided to build a two-story stone cathedral instead of the small wooden St Peter and Paul Church.

The Cathedral was built in the years 1723-1726 on the site of a former wooden church that existed since 1565. It was built like an ordinary parish church, but quickly gained wide fame: everyone admired its appearance. Interestingly, the architect of this magnificent cathedral is still unknown.

During its long history, the temple has gone through a great deal of ordeals: the cathedral burned many times, and in 1774 it was plundered by the Pugachevites.  It suffered the most after the fire of 1815, when the lower church and northern aisles on the first and second floors burned out. Fortunately, the twenty-five meter old seven-tier iconostasis, decorated in the traditions of Russian Baroque, survived in the upper church. It was made in 1723-1726 by Kazan craftsmen, and after the fire of 1815 it was updated by the artist V. Tunin. 

By the end of the 19th century, the cathedral was half-destroyed. The reason for this was the destruction of the foundation; also many details of the decor lost their original appearance. In 1888-1890, Mikhail Litvinov, the architect of Kazan University, restored the original appearance of the cathedral including the detailed drawings. This was one of the first examples in Russia of a highly professional restoration of architectural monuments. Thanks to it, the cathedral has been preserved to our time almost in its original form.

After the revolution, most of Kazan churches were closed and destroyed one after another. Parishioners brought icons and shrines from closed churches to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. In 1939, the cathedral was closed; it lasted longer than others. As a result, the building of the Peter and Paul Cathedral was given to the Party Archive. In the middle of the last century it housed a planetarium, and in 1989, the building was returned back to the church. Today, this wonderful architectural monument of the early 18th century is protected by the state and is an integral element of the silhouette of Kazan.

 

Architecture

This cathedral is admired by all guests of the city, and the reason is its unique decor. The unusually painted Orthodox cathedral is a vivid example of the Petrine era; the so-called “Russian”, or “Naryshkin” baroque style. The temple complex includes a cathedral, a bell tower and a clergy house. It also includes the house of the merchant Miklyaev, built in the 17 century, which is believed to be the oldest civilian structure in Kazan.

There are two churches in the Peter and Paul Cathedral – the upper and lower, an open gallery, a staircase with many steps and a bell tower. The temple also has two front porches. Around the perimeter, it is surrounded by an open gallery, which made it possible for people, especially pilgrims, to shelter from the weather and to relax.

Exceptional elegance is given to the architectural monument by its inner decor, stucco molding, frescoes, bright colours and an abundance of facade details. The main decoration motif is the vine twisting around the stems of the columns with drooping bunches of berries in combination with herbs, flowers, leaves, apples, plums, etc. This is the highest temple in Kazan: the height of the cathedral and the bell tower is 52 meters. The main decoration of the temple is a magnificent 7-tier iconostasis of 25 meters high, made using the gilded baroque carving technique.

 

Shrines

Among the main shrines of the Peter and Paul Cathedral is the Icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes. It has been a shrine to the monastery since 1615. Icon was glorified by great miracles. According to a legend, the Icon saved the inhabitants of Kazan from the plague in the 17th century.

A miraculous image is taken out of the altar every week to worship the parishioners. Orthodox inhabitants of Kazan and the surrounding area deeply revere this holy icon, and receive healing from sickness and help in misfortune from the Mother of God.

 

Interesting Facts

-The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is the tallest church in Kazan. You can enjoy the spectacular view of the city center from the observation platform of the temple.

-All Russian emperors (except Nicholas II), starting from the time of Catherine II visited this place, including Alexander Pushkin and other notable internationally historical figures.

-Description of the Cathedral is contained in the writings of Alexander Humboldt and Alexandre Dumas.

-Famous opera singer Fedor Chaliapin often sang in the cathedral during the Kazan period of his life.

How to get there

Kazan Peter and Paul Cathedral is located in the city center.

The address: Musa Jalil Street, 21.

Nearest Bus Stops – «ul. Chernyshevsky», «ul. Kremlevskaya»;

Metro Stations – «Kremlevskaya» , «Ploshchad’ Tukaya»

 

 

Church service

The cathedral is open for tourists of Kazan in compliance with the rules for visiting religious buildings (shawls and skirts for women; shoulders and knees should be covered).

Schedule of services:

8.00 and 17.00 – liturgy and evening services,

07.00 and 08.40 – early and late liturgy on Sunday and public holidays.

 

Excursions

You can visit The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral by ordering Kazan city tour.