Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Each time I visit St. Petersburg I am drawn to Tsarskoye Selo. I usually go in the morning, taking the train from the Vitebsky Railway Station. The 40-minute train ride delivers me to Detskoe Selo (soon to be renamed Tsarskoye Selo again), and from here I like to walk to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.
Standing outside the Alexander Palace the golden cupolas of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral can be seen in the near distance. A short walk through the park will bring you to the gates of this magnificent and holy place which are closely associated with Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
The cathedral consists of two churches one above the other. The upper church contains the main altar and an immense four-tier iconostasis, 11 metres tall, and adorned with vivid icons. The restoration of the iconostasis has taken many years to complete, its magnificence and beauty commands ones attention when entering the church.
The lower church is a "cave church" with an altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarov. The private prayer chapels of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have also been restored. Originally, the lower church was adorned by genuine Russian icons and decorative plate. "Our cosy cave church," as Nicholas II referred to it, was consecrated on 27 November, 1912. The absence of natural light, low vaulted ceilings and the flickering lamps illuminating the age-old icons carried one away from the bustile of the outside world and encouraged thoughts of prayer.
The church suffered terribly under the Soviets. In 1991, however, the doors of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral were reopened to believers, the first of the buildings in the vast complex to be made accessible again. The restorations which began some 20 years ago continue to this day.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2012