The last and largest of the naval cathedrals of the Russian Empire
The Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas is the last and largest of the naval cathedrals of the Russian Empire. It was built in Kronstadt in 1903-1913 upon the project of V.A. Kosyakov in Neo-Byzantine style. The stauropegial status of the cathedral indicates its direct subordination to the patriarch. Since May 2013, it has been considered the main temple of the Russian Navy.
The construction was initiated by the commander of the Kronstadt port, Vice Admiral N.I. Kaznakov. The requirement for the preparation of the design was that the height of the dome would allow the cathedral to serve as a guidemark seen from the sea, and the cross of the church would be the first thing that caught the eye of the sailor. In 1907, the temple was completed and the interior decoration began. The cost of the construction amounted to 1,876,000 rubles. The consecration of the cathedral took place on June 23, 1913 in the royal presence.
St. Nicholas Cathedral was conceived as a church monument to all perished sailors. Using images and Christian symbols, the Naval Cathedral proclaimed the idea of raising military service to the rank of a spiritual endeavor, emphasizing its inextricability with moral purity. The idea of sanctity of patriotism was expressed in the commemoration of the dead soldiers and the installation of memorial plaques inside the church - the symbol of the Kingdom of God - with the soldiers’ names and an indication of the circumstances of their death.
Inside the cathedral were black and white marble plaques. The black ones carried the names of naval officers who died in battle or were killed in the line of duty. The white plaques, located inside the altar, had the names of clergymen who served on naval vessels and died at sea. Relics associated with the history of ships and naval crews, as well as evidence of the sailors’ feats were collected in the sacristy. This was the only temple in Russia that every sailor could rightfully consider his own.
In 1929, after closing, the cathedral was converted into a cinema named after Maxim Gorky. The gilding was washed off the domes, the gilded parts of the icons were ripped off, the marble iconostasis was dismantled, the mosaic icons and murals were plastered over, relics from the gallery of naval glory as well as all church property were taken from the cathedral.
The first liturgy in 75 years took place on December 19, 2005. The consecration of the cathedral took place on May 28, 2013, when the temple celebrated its 100th anniversary.