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Saint Sophia Cathedral Church

Located in the central district of Daoli, Harbin city, Heilongjiang province, the Saint Sophia Cathedral was first built in 1907 and rebuilt into brick and wood structure in 1912. It is the largest Orthodox Church in the Far East. In November, 1996, it was listed as one of the Key Cultural Relics under State Protection. Six months later, it was repaired and renamed as Harbin Art Gallery by the Harbin City government. It is a respectable landmark for Harbiners and for tourism.

The history of St. Sophia Church was complex. Shortly after the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), in March, 1907, the Russian built the church of timber. Then, the Russian rebuilt it using masonry and timber four years later. The onset of a second reconstruction by Russian was marked on September 23rd, 1923, and a ceremony was held to celebrate laying the corner stone. It was completed on November 25th, 1932, after nine years, and was hailed as a monumental work of art.

Sophia Cathedral is the most finely protected Byzantine architecture in China. The whole Saint Sophia Square and the magnificent and elegant Church with nearly a hundred years’ history are full of charming and mysterious colors. Thousands of beautiful pictures presenting the past, the present and the future of the cultural city of Harbin are being displayed in modern professional exhibit halls in the Saint Sophia Square. The Saint Sophia Square and Church of Saint Sophia attracts millions of tourists from home and abroad.

Sophia Square, South Bank of the Songhua River, No.88 Toulong Street, Daoli District, Harbin, China

Take bus No.1, 2, 13,15,64,66,113 from downtown Harbin to Hayibai or Shizhuang Dasha bus stop; No. 53 and No.114 to Central Street bus stop.

Best time to visit
1) 2:00-3:30 pm, the best time for photography for the sun shines right in the frontage of the church.
2) After 7:00 pm, the colorful lighting makes the church more beautiful and more romantic.

Reviews from Trip Advisor
Outside so Beautiful, but inside?
I visited the Sophia Church in Harbin, China with my 2 sons. It is so impressive from the outside and really stands out on the lovely square. It was how I imagined a true Russian church must be on the Red Square. We bought tickets (about 40 Yuan) to go inside and my disappointment was really great! I was expecting a small, holy, warm atmosphere inside, a place with candles, where one wants to kneel down and send a special prayer to heaven. Instead it was a cold, impersonal museum feeling inside, not like a church. I think it is really not worth it to go inside, take lovely pictures outside and buy souvenirs at the different shops around and your memories will be warmer! Harbin is a lovely city and there is so much to see and do in the winter!

The Russian Influence
As one of the few tourist destinations in Harbin, this square receives its fair share of interest. Apparently the cathedral is to be refurbished. At the moment, don't expect something like you have seen in Europe! It is still rather tacky inside, but the numerous photographs of Harbin's history are interesting.