How could anyone object to this beautiful Russian Orthodox cathedral? It’s certainly a spectacular building, but in Tallinn, Estonia in 1900, it sent a loud-and-clear political message to an unruly Baltic territory: Czar Alexander III and his Russian government were in control.
There’s no denying its aesthetic appeal, but its distinctive Russian style and location made the message impossible to miss. Strategically located on the former site of a statue of Martin Luther, and directly across the square from Tallinn’s Toompea Castle (the seat of their government), the cathedral raised the hackles of many Estonia nationalists. In fact, the church was so controversial that there was a plan for its demolition in 1924, which luckily, wasn’t carried out.
The controversy faded long ago, and what’s left is an architectural masterpiece. It’s called the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and it’s a good reason to leave Tallinn’s Medieval Historic district, and hike up the hill to the “Upper Town.”
Before visiting this cathedral I hadn’t thought much about the message that architecture sends. But after some thought, I realize that it’s unusual if a building doesn’t send a message – political or otherwise.
Do you have a building that appeals to you, and like (or dislike) the message it sends? I’d love to hear.