St Sophia Cathedral

The symbol of Harbin, this imposing Russian Orthodox Cathedral was first built in 1907 and constructed of wood. The present structure was completed in 1932. The Byzantine-style cathedral stands 53 meters high and is an enchanting sight from all angles. Although it fared better than many of Harbin’s other Orthodox churches during the Cultural Revolution, it still fell into a run-down state until renovation work began in 1997. Now the exterior of St Sophia Cathedral and the surrounding square positively gleam.

It’s not really worth going inside the church. It now houses the Harbin Architecture Art Museum – basically a bunch of black and white photos detailing the history of Harbin’s construction. The interior of the Cathedral has largely been raped and it’s somewhat irritating to consider how beautiful it must have been. The original murals that adorned the interior had decayed to the point where they could no longer be recreated.

Admission: ¥15. Open: 9:00-17:30.

Directions: The Cathedral is on the corner of Zhaolin Jie and Toulong Jie – two blocks east of Zhongyang Dajie.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去圣素菲亚教堂, 谢谢。 (Please take me to St Sophia Cathedral. Thank you.)