One of the most visited places during the Days of the French National Heritage held in September 2017, Paris’ Holy Trinity Cathedral is a masterful piece of architecture and community upliftment. The cathedral, also known as Catedral de la Santa Trinidad, a massive Russian ‘spiritual and cultural centre’ crowned by a golden-domed Orthodox cathedral, opened in downtown Paris last year. The complex consists of four buildings that have helped facilitate Russian religious and political outreach programmes in one of Europe’s most influential capitals.
The four buildings include the Cultural Center found on Quai Branly, an educational complex in University Street, an administrative building in Rapp Street and the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky stated at the inaugural opening on 19 October 2016 that ‘the centre will open its doors to anyone who is interested in the history of our country, our scientific and cultural accomplishments, and for those who want to learn Russian. The Holy Trinity Cathedral will undoubtedly play an important role for the Orthodox people in Paris.’
The cathedral is part of a Russian campaign to take over churches and graves dating from tsarist times and reassert charge over the Russian diaspora, including in France where there are an estimated 200 000 followers of Russian Orthodoxy. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the cost of the construction work by French company Bouygues has been estimated at around 100 million euros. From the start, French officials expressed concern that the building is too close to a sensitive government compound, including France’s supreme magistrates’ council, the neighbouring Palais de l’Alma that contains the Élysée Palace’s postal service and the private apartments of senior presidential advisers. The Days of the National Heritage have been held in France for 35 years, and during this time (16–17 September) open access is given to visitors at 15 000 cultural establishments and governmental institutions. Traditionally on these days the Élysée Palace, the residence of the French Prime Minister, and ministries open their doors. Free visits are offered by the most famous museums, such as Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin.
In the cathedral, the visitors were welcomed by the clergy and workers of the church. For eight hours they answered questions and were ready to conduct tours for those who wished to come to a better knowledge of the work of the Spiritual and Cultural Center. An overwhelming majority of the visitors shared the opinion that the Orthodox cathedral on Quai Branly became an integral part of Paris’ architectural heritage.
View the cathedral and its buildings at Paris-7E-Arrondissement, 1 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris-7E-Arrondissement, France. For more information about the historical and religious context of the Holy Trinity Cathedral visit rferl.org.
Photography Courtesy Holy Trinity Cathedral