Monday, February 17, 2014

Harbin: Saint Sophia Cathedral

Harbin is a city with strong Russian roots. At one time, over a third of all the people living in the city were Russian. Because of this, a strong Russian influence can be seen in the architecture and food of the region.

One of the most visible places to see this is at Saint Sophia Cathedral.


Saint Sophia is a former Russian Orthodox church, built in 1907 after the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway.


The church was closed for a number of years during the Great Leap Forward as well as the Cultural Revolution and decades of neglect have sadly taken their toil on this beautiful example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. The inside of the church shows multiple cracks in the walls and much of the intricately decorated plaster has fallen away.



Thankfully, the government designated the cathedral a national cultural heritage site in 1996 as part of a nationwide campaign to protect historical sites. The following year, the cathedral was turned into the Municipal Architecture and Art Museum.



What is left of the chandeliers and decorated walls gives you a glimpse into what a masterpiece this building must have been in her hay day. Tickets are worth the 20 RMB entrance fee to not only warm up your hands, but also gaze upon what is left of this charming building.

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