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Kazan Cathedral is dedicated to one of the most revered icons in Russia, studded with diamonds and rubies, entitled "Our Lady of Kazan".

The construction of the cathedral, which began in 1801 and lasted for ten years, was commissioned by Tsar Paul I to replace the Church of the Nativity of Mary.

In accordance with the wishes of the Emperor, the architect Andrei Voronikhin took his inspiration for the building from St Peter's Basilica in Rome, despite the Russian Orthodox Church's opposition to the idea of a replica of a Catholic basilica in the capital.

Like St. Peter's, the cathedral features a monumental colonnade of 96 columns, but only on the side that opens onto Nevsky Prospekt; there was no money at the time to build the second side, and subsequently there was no space for it.

The interior, with its numerous columns, reflects the structure of the external colonnade. The sumptuous hall, 69 meters long and 62 meters high, contains numerous sculptures and icons by the finest Russian artists of the age.

When Napoleon invaded Russia at the beginning of the 19th century, the commander of the Russian troops, General Mikhail Kutuzov, prayed to the icon of Our Lady of Kazan and defeated the French. Since then, the Russians saw the cathedral as a memorial to their victory over Napoleon, and Kutuzov himself was buried there in 1813.

Later, in 1837, the sculptor Boris Orlovski designed the two bronze statues of Kutuzov and General Barclay de Tolly that you can see in front of the cathedral.

In 1932, following the Russian Revolution, the authorities closed the church to convert it into a "museum of the history of religion and atheism", but religious services resumed in 1992, and Kazan became the cathedral of St. Petersburg in 2017.



Let me leave you with an interesting fact: the huge bronze doors of the cathedral are faithful copies of the original ones of the Baptistery of Florence, Italy.

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