St. Sophia Cathedral (Harbin, China)

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The '''Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God''' or ''Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin'' <br>(Chinese: 聖索菲亜教堂, Russian: Софийский собор в Харбине) is a former Russian Orthodox church located in the central district of [[w:Daoli District|Daoli]], [[w:Harbin City|Harbin City]], Heilongjiang Province, China.   
 
The '''Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God''' or ''Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin'' <br>(Chinese: 聖索菲亜教堂, Russian: Софийский собор в Харбине) is a former Russian Orthodox church located in the central district of [[w:Daoli District|Daoli]], [[w:Harbin City|Harbin City]], Heilongjiang Province, China.   
  
St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral is one of the most magnificent structures in Harbin. It was built in 1907 after the completion of the [[w:Trans-Siberian Railway|Trans-Siberian Railway]] in 1903, which connected [[w:Vladivostok|Vladivostok]] to northeast China. The Russian No.4 Army Division arrived in this region just after Russia's embarrassing loss to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). St. Sophia Church was built and completed in 1907 as a spiritual symbol to help the army regain confidence. It was expanded and renovated from 1923 to 1932 into the present day St. Sophia Church.  
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St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral is one of the most magnificent structures in Harbin. It was built in 1907 after the completion of the [[w:Trans-Siberian Railway|Trans-Siberian Railway]] in 1903, which connected [[w:Vladivostok|Vladivostok]] to northeast China. The Russian No.4 Army Division arrived in this region just after Russia's loss to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). St. Sophia Church was built and completed in 1907 as a spiritual symbol to help the army regain confidence. It was expanded and renovated from 1923 to 1932 into the present day St. Sophia Church.  
  
 
This church stands at 53 meters tall and is the perfect example of [[Neo-Byzantine architecture]]. The main structure is laid out like a cross with the main hall topped with a huge green tipped roof. Under the bright sun, the church and the square area it lies on looks quite like the Red Square in Moscow.  
 
This church stands at 53 meters tall and is the perfect example of [[Neo-Byzantine architecture]]. The main structure is laid out like a cross with the main hall topped with a huge green tipped roof. Under the bright sun, the church and the square area it lies on looks quite like the Red Square in Moscow.  
  
The cathedral was closed during the period of the [[w:Great Leap Forward|Great Leap Forward]] and [[w:Cultural Revolution|Cultural Revolution]].  
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==Closure==
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Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in mainland China in 1949 by the victorious Communists, who ended all Chrisitan missionary work, treaties were signed between the Soviet and Chinese governments that provided for the turning over of Russian churches to Chinese control. The cathedral was thus closed from the period of the [[w:Great Leap Forward|Great Leap Forward]] (1958-61) and [[w:Cultural Revolution|Cultural Revolution]] (1966-76).
 +
:Although the cathedral's sturdy structure withstood its intended destruction during the Cultural Revolution, its empty hull became a warehouse for a nearby state-run department store, its windows were bricked up and saplings grew from the roof. Prefabricated concrete high-rises boxed the church in on all four sides, coming within yards of its walls, making the cathedral inaccessible and invisible from the street. For decades it remained the invisible center of the city, surrounded by decorative material stalls, an auto body shop, a pen factory, and apartments for city government employees, until the Beijing government designated the cathedral a national cultural heritage site in 1996 as part of a nationwide campaign to protect historical sites.<ref>Yukiko Koga. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=hkq9tNjsSo8C&printsec=frontcover#PPA221,M1 "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance].'' In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. '''Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle'''. Routledge, 2008. p.229.</ref>
  
As of 1997 the cathedral was turned into the Municipal Architecture and Art Museum, showcasing the multi-cultural architectural developments of Harbin throughout the ages.
+
==Restoration of the Cathedral (Old Harbin Nostalgia)==
 +
Following its designation in 1996 as a national cultural heritage site, a newspaper article about the "hidden" cathedral prompted donations from locals to restore the church. Local corporations, individual businesses as well as workers from nearby department stores donated money to restore the cathedral and renovate the square. A total of 12,000,000 yuan (approximately $1.5 million US) was eventually gathered and the cathedral regained its visibility in 1997, as the surrounding buildings were torn down.
 +
 
 +
A new "Harbin Architecture Square" conspicuously highlighted the cathedral with a huge new fountain at its entrance. The European-looking space was assigned a new meaning as the embodiment of culture and art and was re-presented to the public as the proud heritage of the city.<ref>Yukiko Koga. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=hkq9tNjsSo8C&printsec=frontcover#PPA221,M1 "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance].'' In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. '''Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle'''. Routledge, 2008. p.229.</ref>
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 +
As of 1997 the cathedral was turned into the ''Municipal Architecture and Art Museum'', showcasing the multi-cultural architectural developments of Harbin throughout the ages. At the official ceremony on [[September 2]], 1997 to celebrate the restoration of St. Sophia Cathedral, Mayor Wang Guangdao underlined the cultural and economic benefits expected from the project:
 +
 
 +
:"The restoration of St. Sophia Cathedral inspired the people of Harbin, raised the level of our culture, let the whole of China and foreign friends know China, and opened a way for faster economic development."<ref>Yukiko Koga. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=hkq9tNjsSo8C&printsec=frontcover#PPA221,M1 "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance].'' In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. '''Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle'''. Routledge, 2008. p.221.</ref>
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 +
The restoration was the culmination of the Harbin municipal goverment's attempt to turn the city's colonial era structures into tourist attractions by restoring and granting them landmark status. The restored structures are said to signify civilization (''wenming'') and culture (''wenhua'').
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
Line 24: Line 35:
 
* [http://image.baidu.com/i?tn=baiduimage&ct=201326592&lm=-1&cl=2&fm=ps&word=%CA%A5%CB%F7%B7%C7%D1%C7%B4%F3%BD%CC%CC%C3 Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin (The Baidu Photo Gallery)] (in Chinese)
 
* [http://image.baidu.com/i?tn=baiduimage&ct=201326592&lm=-1&cl=2&fm=ps&word=%CA%A5%CB%F7%B7%C7%D1%C7%B4%F3%BD%CC%CC%C3 Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin (The Baidu Photo Gallery)] (in Chinese)
  
==Further Reading==
+
==References==  
* Yukiko Koga. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=hkq9tNjsSo8C&printsec=frontcover#PPA221,M1 "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance].'' In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. '''Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle'''. Routledge, 2008. 305 pp., (pp.221-254). (ISBN 041595519X; ISBN 9780415955195)
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<div class="small"><references/></div>
  
 
==Sources==
 
==Sources==
 
* [[w:Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin|Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin]] at Wikipedia.
 
* [[w:Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin|Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin]] at Wikipedia.
 
* [http://www.chinaspringtour.com/guide/item.jsp?id=604 St. Sophia Church 圣索非亚教堂]  China Spring Tour.
 
* [http://www.chinaspringtour.com/guide/item.jsp?id=604 St. Sophia Church 圣索非亚教堂]  China Spring Tour.
 +
* Yukiko Koga. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=hkq9tNjsSo8C&printsec=frontcover#PPA221,M1 "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance].'' In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. '''Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle'''. Routledge, 2008. 305 pp., (pp.221-254). (ISBN 041595519X; ISBN 9780415955195)
  
 
[[Category:Churches]]
 
[[Category:Churches]]
 
[[Category:Orthodoxy in China]]
 
[[Category:Orthodoxy in China]]

Revision as of 22:39, May 12, 2009

The Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God in Harbin, China. Built in 1907 and expanded from 1923-32, it was closed during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution period, and recently turned into a museum in 1997.
The Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God in Harbin, China.
Interior of dome of the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God in Harbin, China.

The Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God or Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin
(Chinese: 聖索菲亜教堂, Russian: Софийский собор в Харбине) is a former Russian Orthodox church located in the central district of Daoli, Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China.

St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral is one of the most magnificent structures in Harbin. It was built in 1907 after the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1903, which connected Vladivostok to northeast China. The Russian No.4 Army Division arrived in this region just after Russia's loss to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). St. Sophia Church was built and completed in 1907 as a spiritual symbol to help the army regain confidence. It was expanded and renovated from 1923 to 1932 into the present day St. Sophia Church.

This church stands at 53 meters tall and is the perfect example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. The main structure is laid out like a cross with the main hall topped with a huge green tipped roof. Under the bright sun, the church and the square area it lies on looks quite like the Red Square in Moscow.

Contents

Closure

Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in mainland China in 1949 by the victorious Communists, who ended all Chrisitan missionary work, treaties were signed between the Soviet and Chinese governments that provided for the turning over of Russian churches to Chinese control. The cathedral was thus closed from the period of the Great Leap Forward (1958-61) and Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

Although the cathedral's sturdy structure withstood its intended destruction during the Cultural Revolution, its empty hull became a warehouse for a nearby state-run department store, its windows were bricked up and saplings grew from the roof. Prefabricated concrete high-rises boxed the church in on all four sides, coming within yards of its walls, making the cathedral inaccessible and invisible from the street. For decades it remained the invisible center of the city, surrounded by decorative material stalls, an auto body shop, a pen factory, and apartments for city government employees, until the Beijing government designated the cathedral a national cultural heritage site in 1996 as part of a nationwide campaign to protect historical sites.[1]

Restoration of the Cathedral (Old Harbin Nostalgia)

Following its designation in 1996 as a national cultural heritage site, a newspaper article about the "hidden" cathedral prompted donations from locals to restore the church. Local corporations, individual businesses as well as workers from nearby department stores donated money to restore the cathedral and renovate the square. A total of 12,000,000 yuan (approximately $1.5 million US) was eventually gathered and the cathedral regained its visibility in 1997, as the surrounding buildings were torn down.

A new "Harbin Architecture Square" conspicuously highlighted the cathedral with a huge new fountain at its entrance. The European-looking space was assigned a new meaning as the embodiment of culture and art and was re-presented to the public as the proud heritage of the city.[2]

As of 1997 the cathedral was turned into the Municipal Architecture and Art Museum, showcasing the multi-cultural architectural developments of Harbin throughout the ages. At the official ceremony on September 2, 1997 to celebrate the restoration of St. Sophia Cathedral, Mayor Wang Guangdao underlined the cultural and economic benefits expected from the project:

"The restoration of St. Sophia Cathedral inspired the people of Harbin, raised the level of our culture, let the whole of China and foreign friends know China, and opened a way for faster economic development."[3]

The restoration was the culmination of the Harbin municipal goverment's attempt to turn the city's colonial era structures into tourist attractions by restoring and granting them landmark status. The restored structures are said to signify civilization (wenming) and culture (wenhua).

See also

Wikipedia

External links

References

  1. Yukiko Koga. "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance. In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle. Routledge, 2008. p.229.
  2. Yukiko Koga. "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance. In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle. Routledge, 2008. p.229.
  3. Yukiko Koga. "The Atmosphere of a Foreign Country": Harbin's Architectural Inheritance. In: Anne M. Cronin, Kevin Hetherington. Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle. Routledge, 2008. p.221.

Sources

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