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Trinity Cathedral in Morshansk

This cathedral has an exceptionally interesting and mysterious history. The city legend says that in 1827 some representatives of Tambov diocese were present at the consecration of Transfiguration (St. Isaac’s) Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It had been designed by the project of the famous Russian architect, V.P. Stasov. The cathedral struck Tambov clergymen with its grandeur and splendor and that’s why they decided unanimously to build a similar one in Tambov. As a construction site they chose Morshansk. Local merchants supported the idea but decided that the cathedral must certainly be higher than St. Isaac’s Cathedral. However, their plans were not fulfilled completely. On December, 5th, 1830, Emperor Nicholas I approved the construction project but with a remark “not to be built higher than St. Isaac’s”. Morshansk Holy Trinity Cathedral was finally built in 1857.           

In the process of construction works Morshansk architects consulted architect V.P. Stasov repeatedly. Such collaboration resulted in the fact that many architectural features realized in Morshansk Trinity Cathedral were later used by V.P. Stasov during the construction of the Holy Trinity Izmaylovsky Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Morshansk Cathedral is a successful combination of the traditional five-dome church structure of Ancient Russian classicism and antique shapes. Being one of the most beautiful and grandest cathedrals of Tambov land, it had an amazing interior ornamentation with a gilded five-level iconostasis and fine wall paintings. By its spaciousness the cathedral didn’t and doesn’t have any rivals in Tambov. About 6 000 people can stay inside at one time.          

The Holy Trinity Cathedral built at the bank of the Tsna River occupies a vast space. It can be seen not only from any point in town but 10 km away from it as well. The height of the cathedral is 75 meters, the height of the cross on the main dome – 6 meters, the length – 45 meters, the width – 42 meters. Originally the floor in the cathedral was made of white stone but later it was laid with ceramic floor tiles. The domes were crowned with the crosses made of gilded iron. The main dome was also gilded while the rest imitated silver.      

At the beginning of the 20th century there was a secret library of Morshansk group of Russian Social Democratic Labor Party at the basement of the cathedral. Before the revolution the Trinity parish also had a chapel built to commemorate the end of the severe epidemies of cholera in 1854 and 1858.  

In 1937, Holy Trinity Cathedral was closed. The domes were taken off and the building itself started being used as a storage room. The status of a monument of architecture of national importance was assigned to the cathedral in 1974. The reconstruction works began at the end of the 80s. They were meant to restore the smaller domes, the roof, the big dome, the colonnade and the heating system. Great work had been done when the cathedral was caught on fire with reasons unknown. The fire destroyed much of what had already been completed. The cathedral had to be reconstructed all over again.    

While having a stroll along Morshansk streets, it is impossible to miss Trinity Cathedral. The five magnificent gilded domes shining even in dull weather can be visible from any part of the town.  

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2, Krasnaya Str., Morshansk, Tambov region
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