Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene, Warsaw

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The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene is a Polish Orthodox cathedral, located at al. Solidarności 52 in Warsaw.

It opened in 1869, serving the needs of a growing community of Russians settling in the area of present-day Praga Północ. During the Second Republic, the cathedral became one of two free-standing Orthodox churches in Warsaw, which were not destroyed or adapted for other purposes.

It is the main Polish Orthodox Church. The cathedral is also the cathedral for the Diocese of Warsaw-Bielsk.

It was entered into the register of monuments on July 1, 1965 with No. 741.

Serious development of Praga, which took place in the second half of the 19th century, combined with the general development of Warsaw, meant thousands of people settled in the area. The incoming settlers were dominated by Russians and citizens of the eastern area of the Russian occupation, professing Orthodoxy. This was also the professed religion of the soldiers of the two Russian garrisons, which were located in Praga. In total, across the whole of Praga, Orthodoxy constituted ten percent of all residents. This population was forced to use a church located on the other side of the Vistula river, and there were repeated calls for the bishop of Warsaw and Ioannicius (Ioann Semyonovich Gorski - Archbishop of the Russian church) to undertake the construction of a new church. In November 1865, the governor of the Polish Kingdom Friedrich Wilhelm Rembert von Berg granted consent for the formation of a committee to oversee the construction of the church. Two years later, the bishop announced the launch of preparatory work.

The church Building Committee was founded by Prince Vladimir Cherkassky and General Yevgenii Rozhnov, for which the construction of the church at Praga was also an answer to the real needs of the population and an opportunity to build it in a strategic part of the city (opposite the Vilnius train station) to provide a long lasting sign that Warsaw belonged to the Russian Empire. In the words of Rozhnov, the church was another way to consolidate Russian rule. After its completion, General Rozhnov and the director of the works, Colonel Palitsyn, received state awards.

The strategic nature of the construction led to the architect of the Holy Synod, Nikolai Sychev, submitting a blueprint and cost estimate in 1867. It was assumed the building would have one dome and be without a bell tower, which had a total cost of close to 122 thousand rubles. After opinions on the request from St. Petersburg, the Building Committee introduced significant modifications to the church making the church conform with the temples of Kiev, which was to emphasize the relationship of the Orthodox Church in Polish lands with the Kiev metropolis and to deny allegations of its foreign origins, and artificial introduction. They were also instructed to erect a bell tower, increasing the total cost to 140 thousand rubles. The Building Committee, wanting to obtain public funding for the investments, accepted the amendment and ordered construction of the church on a plan of a Greek cross with five domes. After the project changes, the building had an area of 776 square meters and a capacity for 800-1000 people in a service.

The foundation stone of the church was laid June 14, 1867, but prior to this phase of construction stabilization of the soil was needed. Despite these initial delays, the facility was ready in the raw state as early as the end of 1868, and work on the design was completed within the next six months. The building work was managed by the engineer Colonel Palitsyn. The first fully independent Orthodox church architecture in Warsaw was created - others, such as the church of the Holy Trinity in Warsaw were Orthodox churches with no distinct features; homemade eastern religious architecture; housed in buildings that were Roman Catholic (such as the church of Our Lady of Vladimir Icon in Wola); or were part of the larger architectural complexes, which was a natural limit to their creators (such as the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the Warsaw Citadel). During the construction of the church, they worked exclusively with Russian artists.

This page was last edited on 26 April 2018, at 12:33 (UTC).
Reference:,_Warsaw under CC BY-SA license.

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