Building Function: The Saint Sophia Cathedral was built as an army church of the Fourth Infantry Division of Eastern Siberia, Tsarist Russia in 1907. Now it is Harbin Architectural Art Gallery.
Saint Sophia Cathedral
January 1st-December 31st
Last Admission Time
Introduction of the Saint Sophia Cathedral
The Saint Sophia Cathedral is an Orthodox church with the Byzantine style. It was built in the 33rd year of Guangxu’s reign in the Qing Dynasty (1907). Now, it is a landmark building in Harbin.
The Saint Sophia Cathedral covers an area of 721 square meters, with a height of 53.25 meters. The main building in the center has a standard large dome and red monument structure, which is majestic and spacious. The graphic design of the church is an east-west Latin Cross, influenced by the Byzantine architectural style. The walls are all made of Shimizu red bricks, crowned by a huge and full onion-shaped dome. Besides, there are also four different sizes of tent shape roofs, forming a master-slave layout.
The four floors are connected by stairs, and there are four doors to enter and exit in four different directions. At the top of the main entrance is the bell tower. The 7 musical bells made of bronze can ring 7 different notes. They are tolled by well-trained ringers who need to use both their hands and feet. The cadenced bell tones can be heard for a long time, and the sound spreads throughout the city.
It is a typical Byzantine-style building. The murals, chandeliers, bell towers, and domes show a colorful cultural atmosphere and unique artistic features. It has high historical and cultural value and architectural art appreciation value.
"Sophia" means "the wisdom of the gods", and the church is named after it, which means to enshrine the god of wisdom. "The onion-shaped dome" and "tent-shaped roof" are recognized as important symbols of Russian architecture. Therefore, this exquisite Byzantine building shows different regional cultural traditions, cultural customs, and environmental characteristics.
The Saint Sophia Cathedral was once the largest Orthodox Church in the Far East Area. The central leisure plaza and the architectural art plaza are all opened to the public. Around the Saint Sophia Cathedral, there are many recreational projects such as the laser hall, information port, movie bar, roller skating, and beer plaza, cold drink plaza. Cultural activities such as old photo exhibitions of Harbin, and song and dance shows are held regularly at the plaza.
Now, the Saint Sophia Cathedral functions as the Harbin Architectural Art Gallery opened to the public. In the gallery, three theme exhibitions are showing the history, development, and future of Harbin. The three themes are "Famous Historic City", "Construction Process", and "Planning for Tomorrow". These three exhibitions reflect the characteristics of Harbin, a historical and cultural city, the evolution of a modern metropolis, and the future development prospects of the city.
History of the Saint Sophia Cathedral
The Night Scene
In 1986, the Saint Sophia Cathedral was listed as the first-class protected building by the Harbin Municipal People's Government.
In 1996, approved by the State Council, it was listed as the fourth batch of national key cultural relics protection units.
From June 2nd to September 2nd, 1997, the Harbin Municipal People's Government carried out a comprehensive renovation of the Sophia Square. It was expanded by 7,000 square meters.
In 2000, the Harbin Municipal People's Government organized the expansion of the Harbin Architectural Art Plaza, the Central Leisure Plaza, and the Urban Construction Planning Exhibition Hall.
The interior of St. Sophia Church is now open to the public as the "Harbin Architectural Art Gallery".
Attractions and Highlights in the Saint Sophia Cathedral
Sophia Square is located on the south bank of the Songhua River. It was built in 1997, covering an area of 22,000 square meters. It is famous at home and abroad for its unique architectural landscape and European architectural style. Sophia Square consists of Saint Sophia Cathedral, the New Jewish Synagogue (the largest existing synagogue in China), and the architectural art square.
The Saint Sophia Cathedral is the most dazzling existence on the square. There are entertainment places such as pottery, cinema and roller skating rink on the square. Visitors can walk, rest, and feed pigeons on the square. The beer square and cold drink square have the style of "Oriental Little Paris", attracting millions of Chinese and foreign tourists every year.
The central leisure plaza and architectural art plaza are all free to the public in the scenic area, with green grass and flowers in summer. In winter, the plazas are covered in silver-colored snow, forming a magnificent and unique scene. There are some small shops selling Russian goods in the four corners of the square.
Saint Sophia Cathedral
On Sophia Square, you can see the Saint Sophia Cathedral. It is a typical representative of modern European architecture in Harbin. You can experience the beauty of European architecture by appreciating the Saint Sophia Cathedral. Especially when it snows, the Cathedral looks magnificent and majestic.
Now, the Saint Sophia Cathedral opened to the public as the Harbin Architectural Art Gallery. Inside the gallery, there are some exhibitions showing the history, culture and architectural art of Harbin.
"Harbin Urban Construction Planning Exhibition" is on display in the gallery. It is divided into three parts: "Famous Historic City", "Construction Process", and "Planning Tomorrow". This exhibition systematically reflects Harbin's historical and cultural features, the evolution of modern metropolises, and the future development prospects of Harbin.
The "Harbin Old Photo Exhibition" is also hosted in the gallery. Through a large number of precious historical pictures, videos, and real objects, this exhibition vividly shows the development of Harbin from a small fishing village into an international metropolis with the reputation of "Oriental Moscow" and "Oriental Paris". The exhibition is the epitome of the old Harbin. People can feel the old Harbin here.
New Jewish Synagogue
New Jewish Synagogue
The New Jewish Synagogue was built in 1918, with a height of 23.59 meters. It covers an area of 1,296 square meters. It is the largest existing synagogue in China. The New Jewish Synagogue is located on Sophia Square, about 1 kilometer from the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
On the first floor of the synagogue, there is an exhibition called "Gazing-Architectural Art Exhibition". Through paintings, photos, models, and other art forms, this exhibition shows the colorful architectural art in Harbin and the results of urban construction.
On the second and third floors, another exhibition, called "Jews in Harbin-History and Culture Exhibition", is also hosted. The historical pictures and materials in the exhibition show the important position and outstanding contribution of the Jewish nation in human history, and reproduce the Jewish life history in Harbin.
The Harbin Architectural Art Plaza
The Architectural Art Plaza
The Harbin Architectural Art Plaza has undergone three reconstructions and expansions. It is a large-scale comprehensive plaza with various functions such as visits, leisure and entertainment, dining, shopping, and gatherings.
The square is surrounded by many European buildings such as Saint Sophia Cathedral, Art Brick Gallery, and Triumphal Arch, and so on. Besides, the square is equipped with a large series of musical fountains, overlapping waterscapes, and the large liftable European-style lampstand. At the same time, there are 3 high-power snow-making machines in the square, which can create unique "snow spring" scenery in winter.
How to Get to Saint Sophia Cathedral
Take bus 1, 5, 20, 61, 113, 114, 206, and get off at the Zhaolinjie Station. Finally, walk south about 400 meters.
Take bus 2, 5, 8, 13, 23, 28, 29, 42, 47, 52, 74, and get off at Jianzhu Yishu Guangchang Station.
By Taxi Chinese: 请带我去圣·索菲亚大教堂。English: Please take me to the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
If you go to the Saint Sophia Cathedral from Taiping International Airport, it takes about 45 minutes(about 95 yuan).
If you go to the Saint Sophia Cathedral from the Harbin Railway Station, it takes about 10 minutes(about 10 yuan).