Ascension Cathedral

The Ascension Cathedral located in Panvilov park, Almaty Kazakhstan is a beautiful Church with plenty of rich history. Construction of the Cathedral started in 1904 and Andrei Zenkov oversaw construction (thus it is also commonly referred to as the Zenkov Cathedral.)

Andrei Zenkov was born in 1863 and died 1936

Zenkov pioneered earthquake engineering as earthquakes are a common occurrence in Almaty, two are most notable, one in 1887 (Which is why Zenkov took incorporated earthquake engineering in his buildings) which completely destroyed the city. The other which was in 1911 registered at a 7.7 magnitude, killed 452 people, and destroyed 770 buildings (most of the city). The Ascension Cathedral, despite being one of the tallest wooden structures in the world, was not destroyed during the earthquake, through the grace of God and the engineering of Zenkov. Zenkov included what he called a “seismic basket” fitting the building’s wooden beams with metal braces and brackets that allowed them to sway with the motion of an earthquake. The vast majority of the structure is made by Tien Shan spruce and the icons were painted by local iconographer – Nikolay Gavrilovich Khludov.

Inside of the Ascension Cathedral (this picture was taken by my father)

After the USSR took power they turned the Ascension Cathedral into a museum of atheism. In 1929 the bells were removed, and in the 1930’s the city authorities placed a radio station. By irony or God’s grace, Andrei Zenkov was commissioned to transform the beautiful Church he created into a museum of atheism. He made sure to try to preserve as much of the original structure as possible. he put the new floors in to cover the original tiles in a way that preserved (secretly) the tiles in hopes that one day it would become a Church again. The cross on the roof was pulled down, the colorful roof painted drab army green, and in front of the entrance was a statue of Lenin on one side and Stalin on the other. They also made it into two floors inside to break up the open cathedral space.

Some more pictures that my father took.

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