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The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited in 1931. It was planned to build in its place a gargantuan edifice called the Palace Of The Soviets – 415 metres, 1360 feet high, and capped with a 100-metre tall statue of Vladimir Lenin. There was a site visit to the Cathedral on 1st July 1931, attended by Stalin, Molotov and a large group of architects, and on 2nd July the decision was announced to demolish the cathedral. By the end of July the site had been fenced off, and demolition began. Little attempt was made to conserve anything. A group of museum experts identified six pieces of sculpture by Loganovsky for preservation, along with one painting each by Surikov and Semiradsky, and a few of Verschagin's canvases.
The demolition was calculated to require seven tonnes of explosives, and protective fencing was put up to shield the surrounding area. The first blast was triggered at noon, but only one internal pillar – of four load-bearing pillars - was displaced. The demolition team blew out a further pillar after half an hour – but the cathedral remained intact standing on just two. At this point the Head of the Demolition Team – as his memoirs relate - received a personal call from 'a top official at the Kremlin, who is watching it all through binoculars', threatening severe retributions if the job was bungled. The next blast brought the dome toppling down. Six more blasts, and the walls came down too.
Work quickly began on clearing the space for the building of the Palace of the Soviets. The project was put out to world-renowned architects, and the tender for the ambitious plan was won by architect Boris Iofan. Iofan planned a building of 420 metres in height, which would have made it the tallest in the world. The whole of soviet industry was harnessed into the building project. Foundations were built, on which the steel frame of the Palace stood. However, WW2 intervened, and construction was halted. Most of the steel frame was taken down again, and its component girders put to use in bridge-building and railway projects instead.
In the early 1950s the project for the Palace Of The Soviets was officially scrapped. Modern architects confirm the fears of their predecessors, that the building technologies of the 1930s couldn't have succeeded in building Iofan's design, and that the ground was too unstable to support it in any case. Thus Moscow never saw the 100-metre statue of Lenin atop the Palace – or the Library which was supposed to be installed inside the statue's head!
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a cathedral on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks southwest of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 103 metres it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.
The current church is the second to stand on this site. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. It was destroyed in 1931 during the Communist rule of Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets that was never built, so the church was reconstructed in the 1990s on the same site.
The Cathedral is located on Volkhonka Street, which starts from Borovitskaya Square. The name of the street appeared at the end of the XVIII century when on the lands of the Volkonskis, a famous noble family was a popular tavern "Volkhonka". The street is one of the most ancient in Moscow. It was famous as a district for the rich.
This district is going to become Moscow Museum District. During the tour you will see and have the opportunity to visit a number of art museums: The Tsvetkovsky Gallery, The Ilya Glazunov Art Gallery, The Lopukhin Family Mansion (aka the Roerich Museum), Gallery of European and American Art of the C19th and C20th, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Private Collections. While walking here you will understand why Moscow used to be accepted as a beautiful jewelry box. In the lanes you will discover old mansions and fall in love with stories of Russian noble families. Such are The Golitsyn Mansion, The Lopukhin Family Mansion, Obolonsky's Mansion, Sergey Tretyakov's Mansion etc. The Chambers of Averky Kirillov - a unique example of a large urban homestead. Chambers, Church of St. Nicholas and outbuildings along the waterfront are a single architectural complex.
Another bright example of Moscow architecture is Pertsova's Rental Apartment Mansions. The house was an apartment house, located on the corner of Soymonovsky passage and Prechistenskaya embankment, built in 1905-1907 by architects N. Zhukov and B.N. Shnaubert on sketches of the artist S.V. Malyutin, author of Russian nesting dolls. The house includes apartments and artists' studios in the upper attic of the building.