This past July, Howard Chua-Eoan wrote on Bloomberg:
In 1931, the Politburo ordered the demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow; it was built by Czar Alexander I to commemorate Napoleon’s retreat from the city and the salvation of Russia. And in the early part of World War II, as Nazi Germany’s forces entered Kyiv, the Soviet military set off explosions that destroyed more than 300 buildings, including the 11th century Cathedral of the Dormition (part of a monastery complex that is now a Unesco heritage site).
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior – let’s call it CCS for simplicity – was conceived by Alexander I (1777-1825, r. 1801-25). It was only in 1839, under Nicholas I, that construction began. It was mostly completed in 1860, when Alexander II was emperor. However, interior decoration took about as long as construction. The CCS was consecrated in 1883, in the third year of Alexander III’s reign.
The CCS was hardly an undisputed masterpiece. Vereschagin called its design a replica of the Taj Mahal by a “fairy talentless” architect. In retrospect, this 17th-century church – demolished to clear space for the cathedral – seems more charming and graceful. When the CCS got blown up, it was largely a symbolic act. But 11th-century churches are extremely rare in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Each of them is simply irreplaceable.