Bucharest – People’s Salvation Cathedral

Work on this religious building started in 2007 and it’s starting to come to an end now and it will be the Romanian Orthodox Church’s Patriarchal Cathedral, replacing the current Metropolitan Church in Bucharest. It’s an enormous building and is visible from throughout the city, standing at 135 metres in height and it will be the largest Orthodox Church in the world by area. It has cost €400 million all told, a significant sum of money for any religious building.

Its location is next to the ridiculous Palace of the Parliament building that was the pet project of Nicolae Ceaușescu, with this being a deliberate choice. Nicolae Ceaușescu had demolished great chunks of the city to build his new building, which included the demolition of three Orthodox churches and the moving of two other Orthodox churches. It’s sited on Spirea’s Hill, which is for the same reason that the Palace of the Parliament was built there, it’s at a high point of Bucharest and the project can be seen from far and wide.

The cathedral is though controversial, there have been links made with the excesses of the Palace of the Parliament building and the cost is not insubstantial for a country that still has a long way to go on its economic road. However, there has long been a demand for this building within the church, they’ve faced economic difficulties, the Second World War and then communism, so it’s not as though they haven’t been patient.

Inside the cathedral is going to be impressive as well in numerous ways, not least because it will have the world’s largest free-swinging church bell in it, but also because of a one-million piece mosaic standing 16 metres in height. The Pope came to visit the cathedral on 31 May 2019, and it will likely be a popular site to visit for tourists and locals. The cathedral will be able to seat 7,000 people, or 10,000 people can stand within it, with the wider site being able to cope with 125,000 visitors. There’s still a lot to do though, the full opening isn’t expected until 2023 or 2024, when this enormous construction project finally comes to an end.