The Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist or Chesme Church, St. Petersburg

Chesme Church
Chesme Church

The church was built between 1777 and 1780. It is a memorial church to honor the 1770 Russian victory at the Battle of Chesme. Empress Catherine II chose the site as it was here that she got the news of the Russian victory over the Turks. Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor was present at the church’s consecration. Located in the far south of the city, it was built under Catherine the Great as the house church for the Chesme Palace, a resting post between St. Petersburg and the Summer Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. The church was named “The Church of the Birth of St. John the Baptist” as it was consecrated on the birthday of John the Baptist.

The church, built in Gothic Revival style faces southwest. Painted pink and white, the church appears like a “candy cone, with long, vertical white stripes (embossed vertical string cornices drawn together with figured horizontal fascias) giving the impression that it’s rising straight up from the earth like a mirage and shooting upwards. The church was built by Yury Felten who was the court architect to Catherine the Great.

Chesme Church
Chesme Church

The church and the Chesme Palace became a labor camp when the Soviet government occupied it. In 1923, the church was closed and used as a storehouse. Between 1941 and 1945, the church suffered damages during the “Great Patriotic War”. During the Second World War, the Institute of Aviation Technology took possession of the Church and the Chesme Palace. During 1970–75, it was fully restored under the supervision of the architects M.I. Tolstov and A.P. Kulikov. In 1977, the church became a museum of the Battle of Chesme (with artifacts from the Central Naval Museum). Used as a burial site for war heroes almost since its consecration, the area around the church became a graveyard for soldiers who died during the Siege of Leningrad. Religious control was restored to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, and regular church services have been held at the church since then.

Travel Guide

Address:              12, Ulitsa Lensoveta.

Metro Station: Moskovskaya. Traveling from the Centre, take the left-hand exit from the station, and walk to the far end of the underpass, exiting on your left. Walk straight down Moskovsky Prospekt, turn right down the Next Street, and then take the second turning on the left. The church is 50m on, on your right (10 minutes)

Visiting Hours:  Daily from 9am to 7pm.

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