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Saint Sophia Cathedral, Harbin

3.9
#1 of 24 in Museums in Harbin
Specialty Museum · Museum
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Admire the imposing, Byzantine architecture of Saint Sophia Cathedral, a former Eastern Orthodox church and landmark of Harbin. The church was built in the early 20th century, when Russians made up a third of the city's population. Now serving as a museum, the majestic building features towering spires and rotund green domes. Step inside to see photographs that explain how Harbin developed into a bustling city over the last 100 years. Take the guesswork out of planning a Harbin vacation by using our trip itinerary maker.
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TripAdvisor
  • Just a Russian Church, 100 year history, show Harbin history, inside nothing, just a painting exhibition. 
    Just a Russian Church, 100 year history, show Harbin history, inside nothing, just a painting exhibition.  more »
  • Harbin is unique compared to many cities we have been to in China. You can see the history and Russian influence throughout the city. There are many gems around every corner. We wanted to see Saint... 
    Harbin is unique compared to many cities we have been to in China. You can see the history and Russian influence throughout the city. There are many gems around every corner. We wanted to see Saint...  more »
Google
  • The church was originally built in March 1907 by the 4th Eastern Siberian Infantry Division of the Russian Empire to build the confidence and morale of the army. It was closed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1958, but was listed as a protected building in 1986. I have a great impression here, which inspired my thinking to come again.
  • [Dead icons] Certainly worth a visit for the cultural insight. Harbin shows fascinating soviet-era influence all over. OK, Full-disclosure, I am a priest, so the faith side matters to me. I found it a very eerie visit. I'm not orthodox myself, I'm anglican, but I like orthodoxy - it's kind of "exotic" to me! So I'm used to seeing icons, and the place had some religious art on the walls, frescoes etc. But it was weird. They were all totally "DEAD". I felt nothing apart from maybe a bit confused. Then I realised, they were all fakes, painted by Chinese artists. Good artists too, I have no doubt. Great technique and all that, but... BIG but... to an iconographer, icons are painted as an act of prayer, and to an orthodox christian who prays before them, they are a window into God. The place felt like it needed to be prayed in again - but in 2008 (when I visited) that was not likely. I don't know if anything has changed.

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