Russia’s Roofs: Beauty across two Continents
At www.d-marc.co.uk we have written legions of articles about the various beautiful roofs of the world. Different buildings in diverse architectural styles across various nations have been covered in depth. This week, however, we will be examining the most beautiful buildings in Russia. From Kremlins to Cathedrals, we will cover the nation’s most impressive roofs, whether world famous or local landmarks.
The Moscow Kremlin
Perhaps the most well-known building in Russia, the Moscow Kremlin has a history stretching all the way back to at least the 11th century; ruins of ancient fortifications from such a time were discovered by Soviet archaeologists. The Kremlin which we recognise today was designed by Italian architects under the patronage of Ivan III in the 16th century, but was not really put to much notable use after 1682, when Peter the Great was chased away by mutinous soldiers. Napoleon tried to blow up the Kremlin during his invasion of Russia, but failed as his explosives only destroyed parts of the building – parts which were rebuilt soon after the Emperor and his Grand Army were thrown back out of the nation. The fortress became truly iconic as the residence of the leaders of the Soviet Union, and while the USSR no longer exists, the Presidents of Russia still officially live there. Parts of the complex function as a museum and receive millions of visitors each year.
The Church of the Transfiguration, Kizhi Pogost
On Kizhi Island, in the lake of Onega, two beautiful wooden churches and a 30-metre tall bell tower stand encircled by a great fence. The first church, with an astonishing 22 domes, is known as the Church of the Transfiguration, and has stood on the island since at least 1714. According to legend, the main builder of the church used only one axe during construction, which was thrown away when the work was done. The builder said of his church, “there was not, and will not be, another one to match it”. It is hard to disagree – elaborate domes cover the roof and entrances (flat roof demarcation is totally useless here), a breathtaking sight for any pilgrim on their way to attend mass within the 18th century church. The church is said to have been inspired by an earlier church with 18 domes, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1963 – wooden churches generally possess a beautiful atmosphere, but sadly are far less durable than their stone counterparts!
Admiralty Building, St Petersburg
One building which has not (yet!) been burned down or blown up is the Admiralty Building in St Petersburg. The Admiralty Building was, unsurprisingly, the home of the Admiralty Board of the Russian Navy during the time of the Russian Empire. It still functions as the headquarters of the Russian Navy today. The building was built in the Empire Style of architecture, which is rather similar to Britain’s Regency Style, and is notable for its tall gilded spire which crowns the building’s flat roof, and is topped with a golden weathervane fashioned in the shape of a warship. The building itself sits in the convergence point of three of St Petersburg’s main streets, a conscious decision to show the importance of the Navy to the mind of Tsar Peter, who had the Admiralty Building made.