In an island of Kotlin, where Kronstadt, a historic base of the Russian Navy is located, the restoration of a unique cathedral, which used to be the church of the local infantry regiment, is almost over. Kronstadt is getting its jewel back.
Kotlin Island lies in the Gulf of Finland 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Saint Petersburg. Founded in the early 18th century by Peter the Great, it became an important international centre of commerce as well as the main base of the Russian Baltic Fleet, guarding the approaches to Saint Petersburg. The historic centre of the city and its fortifications are now entered of the World Cultural Heritage list. For many years, Kronstadt has also been a pilgrimage destination for Orthodox Christians for it was there that one of the most revered Russian saints, Saint John of Kronstadt, lived.
The Cathedral of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is located in the northern part of Kronstadt.
The first wooden church was built here for the soldiers of the Kronshtadt Garrison Regiment in 1730 - 1735. The stone church - the third in a row - was erected in 1875-1879. In 1902, the Holy Synod gave it the status of a cathedral. It became a regiment church for the land forces stationed in Kronstadt. The cathedral could accommodate up to 3,000 worshipers.
The cathedral architecture bears traits of the traditional Russian 17 century style. It has a beautiful tent-shaped 50-meter-tall bell tower above the main entrance, to which a wide porch with columns is attached.
After the revolution, it was closed and turned into a warehouse. The building suffered even more damage during the Great Patriotic War. As a result, a decision was taken not to repair it, but to pull it down. However, a series of explosions that destroyed the bell tower and the Altar part, damaged the neighboring houses, so the demolition of the cathedral was cancelled. For decades, the church stood half-destroyed.
The remains of what used to be a splendid cathedral, were returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990. In 1994, the Vladimir Cathedral was declared an architectural monument of federal importance, and in 1999 the restoration began. On September 8, 1997, the Divine service was held there for the first time in 75 years. In 2007, the restoration of the interior began.
Unfortunately, many of the treasures from the cathedral interior decoration have been lost. In particular, the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, which gave the name to the church. It was painted specifically for Kronstadt in 1703, but disappeared in 1931.
The restoration of the cathedral that took almost 25 years, is to be completed in 2023.