18 Day – China Discovery Tour
Day 06 | Harbin | Thursday, 02 Jan 2020
Activity – Saint Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral was built in 1907 after the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1903, which connected Vladivostok to northeast China. The Russian No.4 Army Division arrived in this region just after Russia’s loss to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). St. Sophia Church was built and completed of timber in March, 1907 as part of a plan to re-consolidate the confidence of the army by building an imposing spiritual symbol.
In 1921, Harbin had a population of 300,000, including 100,000 Russians. The church was expanded and renovated from September 23, 1923, when a ceremony was held to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone, to its completion on November 25, 1932, after nine years. The present-day St. Sophia Church was hailed as a monumental work of art and the largest Orthodox church in the Far East.
Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in mainland China in 1949 by the victorious Communists, who ended all Christian missionary work, treaties were signed between the Soviet and Chinese governments that provided for the turning over of Russian churches to Chinese control. The cathedral was thus closed from the period of the Great Leap Forward (1958–61) through the Cultural Revolution (1966–76).