Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral

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People's Salvation Cathedral
Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului Românesc
View from 13 September Street, 14 April 2015
44°25′33.26″N 26°04′56.37″E / 44.4259056°N 26.0823250°E / 44.4259056; 26.0823250Coordinates: 44°25′33.26″N 26°04′56.37″E / 44.4259056°N 26.0823250°E / 44.4259056; 26.0823250
Location Bucharest, 13 September 4-60, District 5
Country Romania
Denomination Romanian Orthodox
Website Official Website Stage
Dedication Ascension of the Lord (40th day of Easter) and Saint Andrew the Apostle (30 November)
Relics held Saint John Chrysostom / Saint Nectarios of Aegina / Saint Andrew the Apostle
Status Under construction
Architect(s) S.C. Vanel Exim SRL
Style Romanian Byzantine (Porch, Vestibule, Nave, Sanctuary)
Groundbreaking 15 December 2010
Completed April 2013 (first building - three levels) / June 2017 (superstructure) / 2020 (all assembly)[1]
Construction cost €200 mil (cathedral - completely) / €300 mil (all assembly)
Capacity 6,000 Vestibule - Nave (worshipers standing); 125,000 (cathedral-complex)
Length 123.9 meters[2]
Width 69.3 meters (floor-exterior level)
Height 113 meters[3]
Floor area 5760 square meters (interior) / 13534[4] square meters (exterior, 5 meters above the ground)
Spire height 120 m [5](Floor to the top of the cross) / 125 m (From ground level)

The Cathedral for the Salvation of the Romanian People (Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului Românesc) is the common name used to refer to a future Romanian Orthodox cathedral currently under construction in Bucharest. Will be the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world if completed. It will be the patriarchate of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The new cathedral will be dedicated to the Ascension of Christ and to Saint Andrew.[6][7]

The plan of the cathedral complex includes a cathedral building; below the cathedral building, a soup kitchen with capacity for 1,000; two hotels; and parking for about 500 cars. The cathedral is designed with seating for approximately 6,000 worshipers, a greater than tenfold increase on the current patriarchal cathedral.[8]


The earliest idea of a national cathedral came about after the Romanian War of Independence (1877 - 1878). It would symbolise the victory of Orthodoxy against the Ottoman Muslims. The idea was shelved for lack of consensus on design, location and funding.[9](pp56–57)

In 1920, King Ferdinand sent a letter to the Metropolitan, Miron Cristea, supporting the project, but this had no effect. In 1925, after the Romanian Orthodox Church became an independent patriarchate, Cristea suggested Carol Park as a site but his idea was defeated in favour of Bibescu Vodă Square. There, in 1929, a troiţă was raised. Lack of funds meant the construction was postponed and later forgotten.[9](pp56–57)

In September 1995, as the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrated its 70th anniversary of independence, Patriarch Teoctist proposed a new large cathedral on the scale of the newly built Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.[9](pp56–57) He envisioned a standing capacity of 10,000.

On 12 October 2004, the senate voted for the project, estimated to take 6 years.[10]

On 27 and 28 November 2004, officials, up to 1,000 priests and worshippers from Bucharest and other cities gathered in Bucharest.[11] The Holy Synod came into session. On 29 November 2007, Patriarch Daniel of Romania laid the foundation stone, gave his blessing and consecrated the site at Arsenal Hill.


The location and design of the new cathedral was debated by parties including the Romanian Senate and the Mayor of Bucharest. The winning design featured elements of architectural details from all the Romanian provinces and territories in an area that would make the cathedral complex one of the largest religious sites in the world. It was envisaged that 10,000 worshipers could stand in the main cathedral building and the whole complex could accommodate 125,000 visitors over an area of 11 hectares.[12]

The cathedral would be is 124 metres (407 ft), width 70 metres (230 ft) and height 120 metres (390 ft) (125m from ground level).[2] The planned above ground section is 5,760 square meters. The main building would be elevated 5 metres (16 ft) with the basement area extending to 17 metres (56 ft) below the ground level. The main building has three floors with a height of 22.5 meters. The first two levels form a main hall with a height of 11 meters, where can participate 3,000 standing worshippers. The planned underground area is larger (152m by 93m, 13,534 square meters), divided into spaces including a main hall, other halls and rooms for events; an icon and religious clothing shop; a workshop (for carpentry, upholstery and metal work for example); a museum, gallery-exhibition, liturgical performance media shop; as well as storage rooms, a refectory, parking access, cultic objects and an employees rooms.[13][14][15]


The sheer size of the building drew criticism from various sources, including the French newspaper Le Figaro, which named it "a pharaonic project" and "worthy of the megalomania of Nicolae Ceauşescu".[16] Alexandru Paleologu called for the cathedral project to be stopped. He compared it to the Soviet-inspired Casa Scânteii and the House of the People, and argued "The cathedral is a catastrophic, fatal ecclesiastical Ceauşescuism...and parasitical, immoral and impertinent".

Cristian Tudor Popescu, a journalist called the cathedral a "God mall". He said it was not churches, either big nor small, that Romania was lacking.[17]

The Romanian Orthodox Church's answer to such criticism was that the new cathedral would not imitate the gigantic buildings of the communist era, but would "correct them, through a decent and harmonious volumetry".[18]


Three locations were proposed. In 2004, the historic area of Arsenal Hill on 13 September Avenue was selected. This area once contained two monasteries: the Mihai Vodă monastery and the Hermitage convent. There were also three parochial settlements: Albă Postăvari, Spirea Veche and Izvorul Tămăduirii which were destroyed or removed in the communist years.

The first proposed location was a park in Piaţa Unirii, where in 1998, without a proper authorization, Patriarch Teoctist laid the cornerstone of the Cathedral, in the presence of President Emil Constantinescu.[19]

During the discussions which followed, Orthodox theologians warned that, according to church's doctrine, people who want to change the purpose of a plot of land where a church is destined to be built will be anathemized. In the end, the site was not appropriate for a large building because it was the point where two metro lines crossed the Dâmboviţa River, where it was channeled underground.

The Orthodox Church next proposed Carol Park as a site, and in 2004, the Năstase government gave 5 hectares of the park to the Romanian Orthodox Church, so that the cathedral could be built in place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Bucharest and the Mausoleum of Communist Heroes.[9](pp59)[19] The Architects' Union of Romania opposed the site, arguing that it went against certain national and international laws regarding environmental protection, architecture and the protection of monuments.[20]

Following protests by local Bucharesters and opposition in the press, as well as conflicts with Traian Băsescu, the Mayor of Bucharest, the proposed site was abandoned. A new site, Izvor Park, close to the Palace of the Parliament was suggested.[20] The government of Romania granted the Church 11 hectares (27 acres) of land at this site. The Church then planned to use 5 hectares (12 acres) of the land to construct the new cathedral.[21] On 29 November 2007, a new cornerstone was laid by Patriarch Daniel.[22]

A 4,000 square metres (43,000 sq ft) plot has since been claimed by former owners of the land. (The land had been confiscated from them during the communist era).[10]

Cost and financing[edit]

In 2006, Evenimentul Zilei estimated the cost of the new cathedral to be more than €500 million, including the price of the land.[21] In 2007, Patriarch Daniel estimated the cost of the building, excluding the land, to be approximately €400 million.[23] In 2008, Le Figaro estimated the cost to be €1 billion.[16]

In 2007, the government announced it would donate 30 million lei (€8 million) towards the construction of the new cathedral. The parliament legislated that a further half of the cost of the Cathedral would come from the state.[24]

This act was criticised. Daniel Dăianu, a Liberal European MP suggested it was populist spending and funds would come from other areas of spending.[24] Remus Cernea, head of the Solidaritatea pentru libertatea de conştiinţă Association complained that funding of the cathedral with public money discriminated against others.[25]


On 15 December 2010, construction of the cathedral began.[26] The completion date is in 2014 - 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Cathedral plan exposed in the Palace of Romanian Patriarchal" Patriarhia.Ro
  2. ^ a b "Catedrala Mantuirii Neamului" Basilica Byzantine blog
  3. ^ "Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral". Emporis. 
  4. ^ "Lucrările la Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului continuă (2011-05-20); Basilica - details." Biserici.Org
  5. ^ "Finalizarea structurii de rezistenţă a Catedralei Mântuirii Neamului" Basilica.Ro
  6. ^ "Hramul Catedralei Mantuirii Neamului" Accessed 29 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Catedrala Mantuirii Neamului va purta hramul sf. ap. Andrei si al Inaltarii Domnului" Agenția de Știri Basilica Accessed 29 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Romania's costly passion for building churches." BBC News Accessed 7 August 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Stan L. and Turcescu L. Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-530853-0.
  10. ^ a b "Punerea pietrei de temelie a Catedralei Neamului", BBC, 28 November 2007
  11. ^ "Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral",
  12. ^ "Ansamblului Arhitectural Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului" Patriarhia.Ro
  13. ^ "Săli polivalente în subsolul Catedralei Neamului, de aceeaşi mărime cu biserica de deasupra" Gândul.Info
  14. ^ "Pe cine mântuieşte Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului?" Mugetul Carpatilor
  15. ^ "România în top 10 al celor mai mari edificii de cult din lume"
  16. ^ a b "Les projets pharaoniques de l'Église orthodoxe à Bucarest." Le Figaro 1 February 2008.
  17. ^ Cristian Tudor Popescu "Catedrala Mântuirii în Țara Mântuielii." Adevărul, 23 March 2004.
  18. ^ "Fericiţi cei ce construiesc biserici, nu cei ce le demolează." Romanian Patriarchy press release.
  19. ^ a b "Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului ar putea fi inaugurată peste şase ani", Adevărul, 26 November 2007.
  20. ^ a b "Unde se va construi Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului?", BBC, 4 November 2004
  21. ^ a b "Catedrala Zgârie-nori", in Evenimentul Zilei, 23 February 2006
  22. ^ "Catedrala Patriarhală rămâne un proiect controversat." BBC, 29 November 2007
  23. ^ "PF Daniel: Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului costă mai puţin decât aeroportul din Iaşi", Gândul, 29 November 2007.
  24. ^ a b "Catedrala Bugetului Neamului" România Liberă, 13 December 2007.
  25. ^ "A doua plângere prealabilă demersului în instanţă privind acordarea de fonduri publice pentru Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului",
  26. ^ "Bucharest's new cathedral to out-do." Romania News Watch website.


  • Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, "Politics, National Symbols and the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral," Europe-Asia Studies, November 2006, 58 (7) pp. 1119–1139.
  • Dunlop T. "Romania's costly passion for building churches." 7 August 2013. BBC News website. Accessed 7 August 2013.