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Alma-Ata: The Ascension Cathedral and its history

In the list of cities, whose landmarks are unique in their artistic and historical value, temples, includes Alma-Ata. The Ascension Cathedral, erected there at the beginning of the last century, is the second largest wooden structure in the world. In addition, due to its unique seismic resistance, it is recognized as an outstanding engineering achievement.

Cathedral, which was waiting for the Orthodox Alma-Ata

Ascension Cathedral in the city of Verny - just as it used to be called the present capital of Kazakhstan - was built in 1907. The need for its erection raised the issue long before the construction, but at that time it was not possible to obtain the necessary funds for the work. Only by 1903 the parishioners of the Turkestan diocese, with the support of the higher church administration in the capital, demanded the amount collected. In the same year, the solemn laying of the temple took place.

The special complexity in the creation of the project of the building and the conduct of the work was conditioned by unfavorable seismic conditions, which the current Alma-Ata suffered many times. Ascension Cathedral was to be built taking into account possible earthquakes, destructive for low, mostly single-storey buildings, of which the city of Verny was in those years.

Constructive features of the cathedral

The architect of the building KA Borisoglebsky and the engineer-manager of the works AP Zenkov brilliantly coped with this task. The cathedral built by them, with a height of more than 40 meters, consisted entirely of wooden parts interconnected by special metal fasteners.

With its grandiose height, the design was unusually flexible and capable of withstanding soil tremors of considerable strength. This quality of the new church was fully manifested during the earthquake that struck the city in 1910. It in a short time has turned into ruins other buildings, having bypassed the Orthodox church. The testimonies of contemporaries of that natural cataclysm, telling how during the aftershocks the bell tower of the cathedral rocked and bent, like an elastic bar, but did not succumb to the raging elements.

The fate of the building in the Soviet period

After the revolution, the services in the Ascension Cathedral were discontinued, and the building itself was converted to a museum and to accommodate a number of state institutions in it. This saved him from imminent destruction. It is known that when radio broadcasting appeared in the republic in the thirties, its first broadcasts were broadcast using an antenna installed on the bell tower of the cathedral.

In 1985, the life of the building of the former cathedral was changed. The museum located in its walls moved to a new, specially built for this purpose modern complex, and for ten years it housed a concert and exhibition pavilion.

Revival of the religious life of the cathedral

In the nineties Alma-Ata found itself in a cycle of democratic changes that swept the country. Ascension Cathedral was returned to the faithful and after a number of necessary works resumed the Orthodox services. Today it is not only a major religious center, but also the center of educational and social-charitable activities. It is possible to state with good reason that the history of the Ascension Cathedral goes to its new stage.

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