Ascension Cathedral

Travel items. © Tourism Almaty

Ascension Cathedral

It’s one of the most beautiful places and architectural monuments in the city. There are still legends that this building was built without a single nail. In fact, it’s not true. The design is truly unique because of the advanced technological solutions of that time, which provide greater seismic resistance of the building. About the cathedral building people talked almost from the foundation of the city but in 1887 there was a destructive earthquake. Almost all stone buildings were damaged. There even was an idea to  move Vernyy (old name of Almaty) to another place. Engineer A. P. Zenkov has dissuaded them: “… They built improperly, that’s why the building was knocked down. And we will do it in a proper way, so it will stand an age. No earthquake will move it”. In 1904 he started the cathedral building, and in 1907, in accordance with citizens’ wish, it was dedicated to the Ascension Day.

The cathedral building is unique because much of the construction practice of Semirechye was used for the first time:

reinforced concrete, timber preservation, ventilation. It was the first time when the question of seismic resistance was considered so serious. It was worth it. The earthquake in 10 points, which took place in 1910, became a serious challenge for the cathedral – the second highest building in the world. During the shocks, one-stored Verniy turned into ruins and the cathedral shook, but survived.” “Having a great attitude, – Zenkov wrote about his creation, – the Cathedral represented a  very flexible construction. Its bell tower shook and bent like the top of a high tree, and worked as a flexible bar”.

After 1917 much has changed in Verniy. In 1929 the bells from the belfry of the Ascension Cathedral were thrown down, the iconostasis was destroyed and all church plates were stolen. The first building housed a radio station, then Republican Museum of Local History. Planning, surface appearance and outer constructions were changed, etching the spirit of the church. But in the 1976 the Ascension Cathedral was restored, in ten years it began to work as a concert and exhibition hall and in 1994 was assigned to the Russian Orthodox Church. That was the year when an altar was restored, new bells casted and rose, and even masses had begun. Since then, the church has served as the cathedral. In 2007 the cathedral turned hundred years.

You just can’t imagine Almaty without breathtaking and fantastic Ascension Cathedral. It can win over everyone who saw it once.