St. Nicolas Orthodox Russian Cathedral

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St. Nicolas Orthodox Russian Cathedral ( 480x640 )
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St. Nicolas Orthodox Russian Cathedral (Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe St-Nicolas à Nice) was built between 1903 and 1912 and it was donated by and dedicated to Tsar Nicholas II. There is a plaque on the side of the church saying both in Russian and French that it was built on his order. The Cathedral signifies the long established Russian presence on the Riviera at the end of the 19th century (they began arriving in 1850s), and one will still find a continued Russian community in Nice today. The church was the first Russian Orthodox Church built outside Russia and it is said that it is also the most beautiful one. Although built at the beginning of 20th century its style and feel is that of an early 17th century. The style is based on the Laroslavl church in Moscow.

It is made up of a harmony of pink bricks, light grey marble and brightly coloured ceramic. It has 6 onion domes and is built in the form of a Greek cross. The cupolas and the mosaics (by which is the exterior of the church highly decorated) are mainly in yellow and blue colours. The windows are surrounded by green mosaics. Particularly striking is the large representation of the Turin Shroud held aloft by an angel. Before this made its way to Turin it was one of the holiest relics of the Russian Orthodox Church, kept in the city of Odessa on the Black Sea.

The interior is also richly decorated, with icons in silver gilt cases and jewel-encrusted treasures, woodwork and frescoes. One cannot miss to note the chapel to Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovitch who died in Nice in 1865. The east transept is closed off by an ornate screen, separating the 'Holy of Holies' from the rest of the church. There are no chairs in the Orthodox Church the congregation stands.

Quite strange for it being a catholic church it an entrance fee 3 euros. One cannot wear shorts or short skirts as well as sleeveless shirts to go inside. The church has three different types of opening hours during the year. From the beginning of May to the end of September it is opened from 9 am to 12 noon and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm. In October and from February 16 to April 30 the opening hours are from 9.15 am to 5.30 pm with the break between noon and 2.30 pm. And during winter, from the beginning of November to February 15 it is opened from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm with the noon break, same as in the rest of the year.
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