St. Nicholas Cathedral

Russkaya St. 35

The majestic St. Nicholas Cathedral, standing at Chernivtsi very center, is rightly considered the most original building of the town. Because of unusual architecture - small crooked cupolas "leaning" to the main dome - the temple is colloquially called "the drunken church." If you stare at it for a long time, you will begin to feel slightly inebriated. So, the St. Nicholas Cathedral can truly be called not only the most unique, but also the most mind-blowing of the Bukovina capital’s sights!

The St. Nicholas Church was built in the first half of the 20th century. At that time, near the place, where the temple was supposed to be raised, three cultic buildings - the ancient St. Nicholas cathedral of the 17th century, the Armenian Church and the Greek-Catholic Church - had already stood. And therefore, the architects had to think of the original architectural solution which would single out the St. Nicholas Cathedral among the other city temples.

The famous 16th century's Assumption Church in the Romanian city Curtea de Arges - the burial vault of Romanian kings and the recognized masterpiece of the medieval architecture - served as the prototype for the Chernivtsi Cathedral. It is from this marvelous temple that the St. Nicholas Church inherited its unique architectural characteristic - peculiarly crooked small cupolas. The Romanian Cathedral has two of them, though, while the Chernivtsi Cathedral has four!

People immediately started to compose legends, trying to explain the unusual shape of the St. Nicholas Cathedral's cupolas. It is said that temple's construction proceeded very slow and was accompanied by constant obstacles: foundation would crack, brickwork wouldn't go well, construction materials would disappear. Then, the architects decided to offer sacrifice to the future temple and bricked up a young girl alive in its walls. Afterwards, as the legend has it, the troubles stopped at the construction site and soon the church was built. However, shortly, the cupolas of the St. Nicholas Cathedral were crooked from the pain and suffering, which the girl went through.

But, put the legends aside, temple's corner cupolas' crooked shape is explained by the high inclined windows of the bell tower. Believers have their own version, though: they are sure that in this way the architects embodied the idea of Orthodox believers' bow to the Christ.

One way or another, the St. Nicholas Cathedral is able to strike not only with peculiar look. Its luxurious interior is also worth admiration: the original, made by Romanian craftsmen iconostasis, surprising with its unusual location, amazing stained-glass windows, luxurious paintings on the gilt vaults... In Soviet times - contrary to country's other cultic buildings that were destroyed or closed - the St. Nicholas Cathedral continued to function and, therefore, it has perfectly preserved its unique interior.

Currently, it is one of the most unusual and memorable sights in Chernivtsi!

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