The Chesme Palace and Church were built in 1770s by the architect Yuri Felten. The palace was built as a place where Catherine the Great could stop for a rest on her way from St. Petersburg to her country residences. The palace acquired its name in 1780 in commemoration of the victory of the Russian fleet over the Turkish fleet at Chesme Bay in the Aegean Sea in 1770.
History of Church
In 1768, the Osman Empire declared war on Russia with the intent of seizing Transcaucasia, the Northern Caucasus and the Ukraine. The Battle of Chesma was one of the most outstanding and heroic achievements in the Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774.
According to legend, it was on the 7th mile of the road to Tsarskoye Selo that Catherine II received the message of the victory of Russian Navy over the Turkish fleet in the Bay of Chesme. The decisive battle against the Turks began in the Aegean Sea on June 24, 1770, the day of the birth of John the Baptist. The Russian fleet, despite the significant superiority of the enemy in strength and numbers, decided to attack the Turks. The Turkish fleet was forced to retreat in Chesmenskaya bay, under cover of coastal artillery, but on June 26 sailorsunder the command of Rear Admiral Samuel Greig made ??their way into the bay, and set several Turkish ships on fire. A large fire ensued which destroyed the entire enemy's fleet. Russian losses amounted to only 11 people, while the Turkish fleet lost all its vessels, and more than ten thousand sailors and officers. On this occasion, Admiral Spiridonov said in his report to St. Petersburg: "The honor of the All-Russian Navy! From 25 to 26 enemy military ... Turkish fleet attacked, smashed, smashed and burned, sent them up in the sky, drowned and turned into ashes, and themselves began to be dominant in the island chain". The Empress was incredibly pleased and subsequently ordered to build a palace on the very spot where the messenger caught up with her. Initially this road palace called Kikerikeksenskim - by the name of the area, and then - Chesmensky.
The graceful Chesme Church (architect Yuri Feltin, 1777-1780), of the rare pseudo-Gothic structures in Saint Petersburg, was built near the palace. Today you will find the church at No 12 Gastello Street. Here in 1977 an exposition devoted to the victory at Chesme Bay was opened, models of men-of-war, 18th century naval instruments, Russian and Turkish flags, weapons, medals, and portraits of outstanding Russian naval commanders are on display.
The Chesme Church was consecrated in the presence of Catherine the Great and the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II of Austria ( traveling under the name of Count Falkenstein). In March of 1812, the Winter Church of Nativity was opened on the lower floor of the Chesme Church. That same year, artifacts from Emperors' Alexey Fedorovitch and Peter the Great movable churchs were relocated to the Winter Church.
M. Pylayev, The Forgotten Past of St Petersburg's Environs, 1897
Four Petals Facing Points of Compass
In plan it resembles a flower with four petals facing the points of the compass. The numerous fine vertical bands create an impression of soaring movement. This is reinforced by the row of gothic arches under the roof, the pinnacles on the parapet and the spires, later destroyed, instead of domes.
The main entrance to the Chesme Church is reminiscent of a portal decorated with stucco bands. There are also two statues: Faith and Hope. Above the entrance - a pediment with a bas-relief depicting the all-seeing eye.
Memorial Marble Plaque Honoring John the Baptist
At the entrance to the church, a marble plaque bears the following inscription:
This temple was built in the name of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, to commemorate the victory over the Turkish fleet, won at Cesme in 1770 on the day of his birth. Founded in the 15th year of the reign of Catherine II, in the presence of King Gustav III of Sweden under the name of Count Gotland, and consecrated in 1780 on June 24 in the presence of His Majesty the Roman Emperor Joseph II under the name of Count Falkenstein.
Small Military Cemetery
By the church there is a small military cemetery, in which veterans of the Russian army who had ended their days in a disabled assistance home at the Chesme Palace are buried. During the Second World War fighters who died defending Leningrad were buried here.
Chesme Church At Night:
Watch: Green Frog Dinner Service, created by Josiah Wedgwood for Chesme Church and Palace, commissioned by Catherine the Great: