Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara, Kazan

Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara in Kazan, Russia never fails to capture the attention of passersby with its bright red-and-white facade, glittering golden domes and slender four-tiered bell tower.

The classical-style church was originally built in Arsk Cemetery by an unknown architect, but after the construction of Church of Yaroslavl Miracle Workers on the site in 1795, Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara was declared to be its own parish independent of the cemetery.

Shortly thereafter, during restoration of the city after the devastation caused by insurrectionist Yemelyan Pugachev, the church was relocated to the estate of the vice-governor. Initially the cathedral was used only in summer, but the later addition of a side chapel allowed it to function year-round.

Due to the fact that Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara was located on the Trans-Siberian Highway, it was often visited by famous writers, publicists and politicians as they passed through Kazan. Other famous elites were married and baptized within its walls, and opera singer Feodor Chaliapin even sang in the church choir as a young boy.

The cathedral was reconstructed many times. A new Russian-style building was erected in 1907, although fragments of the original structure were preserved in the upper and lower tiers of the bell tower.

Church functions at the cathedral ceased after the Soviets arrested its final clergyman, Father Nikolai. Before it was officially shuttered in 1930, however, parishioners managed to save its main relics, the Icon of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara and Icon of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, and store them in Church of Yaroslavl Miracle Workers.

During much of the 20th century, the cathedral was used successively as a tram fleet club, a cinema, a prosthetics workshop and as a department of the Kazan Institute of Technology. In 1994, the first service in over 60 years was held at Church of St. Barbara, at which time its salvaged icons and an altar cloth dating to 1781 were returned to the sanctuary. By that time, however, the church was in poor shape, and over the coming years nearly everything had to be rebuilt. The beautiful Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara in Kazan which is seen by visitors today is the result of extensive restoration efforts carried out on the cathedral through the year 2000.