The history of the Cathedral begins on December 25, 1812. This was the day that the last soldiers of Napoleons' 600,000 man army were driven out of Russia. Emperor Alexander I signed a Manifesto ordering the construction of a magnificent Cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior in Moscow as a thanksgiving to God and to honor the victorious Russian army.
"To signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her and to preserve the memory of the unheard of efforts, loyalty and love for our Faith and Homeland displayed during these difficult days by the Russian people, We hereby intend to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior in our capital city of Moscow, wherein the appropriate Decree will be issued in due time. May the Almighty bless Our intentions. May our intentions be fulfilled. May the Cathedral stand for many centuries. Let the incense of thanksgiving, together with love and a desire to imitate the feats of our anscestorsl feats, burn before the holy altar of God for many generations".
The first project called for a Cathedral built by the architect Vitberg. On October 12, 1817, five years after the French entered Moscow, the cornerstone of this Cathedral was triumphantly blessed. The first site was on the Sparrow Hills, between the Smolensk and the Kaluga roads. However, unsteady ground and underground waters made this site unfeasible. On April 10, 1832 Emperor Nicholas I approved a new project presented by K. A. Ton. The emperor chose the new site personally - on the bank of the Moscow River, near the Kremlin. He convened a Special Commission for the Construction of the Cathedral in 1837. The Alekseyevsky Convent and Church of all Saints that were located on the chosen site were dismantled. The convent was moved to Sokolniki (then the northeastern outskirts of Moscow) and the excavations for the foundations began. The cornerstone was laid on September 10, 1839.
The original Cathedral took forty years to build. The walls of the lower level were completed in 1841. The arch of the large cupola was joined in 1846. The exterior facing was completed three years later and work was begun on the metal roofs and cupolas. The large cupola was completed in 1849. The exterior scaffolding was removed in 1860, when the Cathedral first was unveiled in all of its glory. The bronze balustrade on the roof was installed in 1862 (even though it had not been included in the original plans). The riverbank and squares surrounding the Cathedral, as well as the exterior lanterns were completed by 1881. The interior frescoes were also almost complete by this time.
Address: bld. 1, Vochonka St., Moscow