Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church

Potsdam, Germany | C.1826

Photo Credit: Hannah Roche

The historic Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church in Potsdam, Germany dates back to the early 19th century, making it the oldest Russian Orthodox church in the country.

This church was built in 1826 at the center of Alexandrowka, a humble settlement of just thirteen wooden houses in Potsdam built at the request of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III to house singers of his royal choir. These singers were once Russian prisoners of war in a conflict that saw the Prussians and French fighting against Russia. After an armistice, dozens of freed prisoners remained in service to King Friedrich’s court as choir singers, and were eventually allowed to retire to Alexandrowka. The Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church was built as a place of worship for the Russian townspeople of Alexandrowka.

Designed by Vasily Stasov, Nevsky Church is a very early example of the Byzantine Revival architecture – most frequently seen in religious, institutional and public buildings. It incorporates elements of the Byzantine style associated with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture dating from the 5th through 11th centuries, notably that of Constantinople.

Consecrated in 1826, it is still an active congregation with services being held every Sunday at noon. Since 1999, the settlement and church have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town was renovated in recent years, and remains a popular tourist destination today, featuring a museum that relays the history of Alexandrowka.

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