The fate of churches of other faiths shared the fate of the Orthodox: after the revolution, many of them were closed or destroyed, but in recent years they have been opened and restored, so St. Petersburg today has the largest number of churches of other religions in Russia.
Freedom of religion in Russia was established by Peter. In 1702, he issued a manifesto, which called for tolerance, the eradication of hostility, and proclaimed religious freedom. Under Peter, permits for the construction of churches were given without hindrance. And the first Lutheran church of St. Anna in the city stood in the very heart of the capital, in the Peter and Paul Fortress, next to the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral under construction. The emperor not only visited churches of other religions: at the opening of the Reformed Church, he personally baptized the baby. The traditions of religious tolerance laid down by Peter continued until the revolution. Nevsky, on which temples of different confessions appeared, was called “the street of tolerance and freedom”. Interestingly, the decree on religious tolerance was repeated in 1905.
Imperial Gift to Catholics
Already in 1706 there was a Catholic parish in St. Petersburg, and the first wooden church of the Apostle Peter was built by the chief architect of the city of Trezzini. Then the Catholics got a place on the Nevsky, and the Church of St. Catherine still stands here. By the way, it is named after the patroness of the Russian empress. Catherine II herself presented the church with a large altarpiece. Most of the parishioners were Poles, as well as French, Italians, and Germans. The temple was the main one in the capital; the relics of the saints, even the Mother of God, and a particle of the Lord's Cross were kept here. Mickiewicz, Balzac, Dumas, Liszt, who came to the capital, prayed here. The last Polish king Stanislav-August Poniatowski, who died in St. Petersburg, was buried here. In 1938, the church was closed and plundered: utensils, icons and books from the magnificent library were thrown into the street. Only half a century later, in 1990, the church was returned to the Catholic community.
At first, the Germans and the Dutch who served in St. Petersburg prayed at the house of Admiral Cruis, which was located on the site of the Winter Palace. Peter II presented the community with a plot of land on the Nevsky, where Petrikirche stands - the main spiritual center of the Lutherans of St. Petersburg. The temple received its present appearance in 1838, according to the project of Alexander Bryullov, the brother of the famous painter. In the 19th century, Petrikirche was the richest among all Lutheran churches in Russia, with the largest parish, and in the 20th it was subjected to terrible desecration: a swimming pool was built here, and all valuable things were either taken to the Hermitage, or disappeared without a trace, as the largest organ of the famous firm "Walker". For many years there could be no question of returning the building to believers - here, after all, the townspeople "strengthened their health". Only in 1992 - later than all other faiths - the building was handed over to the German Lutheran community.
The St. Petersburg Cathedral Mosque is the largest in northern Europe. The recognition of Islam as an officially permitted religion in Russia followed in 1788. However, until the twentieth century, St. Petersburg Muslims did not have a religious building, prayer halls were located in rented premises, while services on major holidays (Ramadan, Eid al-Adha) - even in the halls of the City Duma. Nicholas II signed a permission to build a cathedral mosque in 1907. Money was collected all over Russia, one of the main patrons of the arts was Prince Felix Yusupov, a descendant of the Tatar Khan Yusuf. The architect Vasiliev won the construction competition, and the blue majolica on the facade was created by the ceramist Vaulin, the grandfather of the composer Andrei Petrov. The first service took place in 1913, but after the revolution the mosque was plundered and closed in 1940. Interestingly, the post-war discovery was facilitated by Indian President Jawaharlal Nehru and Indonesian President Sukarno, with whom the authorities flirted. Divine services resumed in 1956. The mosque can accommodate up to 5 thousand people, but more than 70 thousand Muslims live in St. Petersburg, so it is planned to open another mosque - in Kolomyagi.
The Jewish community of St. Petersburg in the 19th century was not very numerous - about 10 thousand people, but played a big role in the economic life of the city and the country. There were several prayer houses in the capital; finally, the permission to build a synagogue was signed by Emperor Alexander II. The competition was won by the project of L. Bachman and I. Shaposhnikov, it is noteworthy that this famous architect was the father of Helena Roerich, the wife of Nicholas Roerich, who devoted her life to the search for a new religion. The synagogue was completed in 1893. In 1930, it was closed by local authorities, but a few months later, after a complaint by the leaders of the community to Moscow, it was reopened. In Soviet times, the building was destroyed, but he was unexpectedly lucky: before the Moscow Olympics, the synagogue was included in the number of excursion sites, so restoration began, and now the synagogue looks great.
Nicholas II agreed to build a Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg: in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, they were very fond of Eastern religions. Datsan was conceived not only as a prayer house, but also as a museum and center of Eastern culture in Russia and even Europe. It still remains the largest Buddhist temple in Europe. The money for the construction was donated by the XIII Dalai Lama, Buryat, Mongolian, Kalmyk, Tuvan, Russian and even English Buddhists. The project was drawn up by the then fashionable architect Baranovsky, who also built the Eliseevsky store. Nicholas Roerich was on the construction committee. In 1913, on the day of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Imperial House, the first service was held. Well, in 1919, the datsan was plundered, a unique library of Tibetan manuscripts was burned, and the statue of Buddha was smashed. In 1937, the temple was closed, and only in 1990 was it returned to the believers.
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Today, the State Duma of the Russian Federation in the first reading adopted amendments to the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations", according to which the pilgrimage activity will receive legal status and will be separated from tourism. The document assumes that only religious organizations will be able to engage in this activity. The bill was initiated by the Russian Orthodox Church, whose representatives told Kommersant that the corresponding amendments would be made to the law “On the Basics of Tourist Activity”.