Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces – Odintsovsky District, Russia - Atlas Obscura

Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces

A solemn, monumental, kitschy palace of worship honoring victory in the Great Patriotic War.  


Built in 18 months—a record for such a colossal project—this military-themed mega-church covers almost three acres of Patriot Park, and was consecrated on May 9, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day, which celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War (as Russia refers to the war against Nazi Germany in 1941-1945).

The gigantic church is designed in Russian Revival (also called pseudo-Russian) style, a trendy form in modern, eclectic Russian architecture, usually consisting of monumental “historical” details combined with gaudy modern elements. To that end, you can see traditional gzhel painting near huge, skyscraper-style reflective glass windows.

Because of its association with World War II, in addition to stained glass honoring the various orders of the Red Army, the entire building is laden with numerical symbolism. The belfry, for example, is 75 meters high to mark 75 years between the end of the war until the day the church was completed. The small dome is 14.18 meters tall, reflecting the 1,418 days that the war lasted. And the main dome’s diameter is 19.45 meters, obviously referring to the year war has ended.

Impressed yet? If not, be sure to check out the wall mosaics depicting Russian war heroes, among them, ironically, anticlerical Josef Stalin, whose regime executed thousands of priests. Another one was planned for Vladimir Putin but was dismantled due to public resistance.

Update June 2020: The cathedral is to reopen on June 22, 2020. 

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