Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cathédrale St-Alexandre-Nevsky

Located between the Arc de Triomphe and Parc Monceau, the Russian Orthodox Cathédrale St-Alexandre-Nevsky was consecrated in 1861. The structure was financed by contributions from the ex-pat Russian community and a large personal donation from Tsar Alexander II. The church became a cathedral in 1922, and a major restoration was carried out in 1996. The Byzantine-inspired interior is richly ornamented with icons, mosaics and frescoes. Sunday services are still conducted in the Russian language.
It should be noted that the Russian restaurant opposite the cathedral, À la Ville de Petrograd, used to host such Russian notables as Stravinsky, Diaghilev and Nabokov.
Around the corner from this cathedral is one of the most celebrated small concert halls of Paris, the Salle Pleyel (at 252, rue de Faubourg St-Honoré), recently reopened after extensive renovations.
Cathédrale St-Alexandre-Nevsky
12, rue Daru
Open to the public Tuesdays and Fridays, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Métro: Ternes or Courcelles

Russian Orthodox Archbishop Gabriel in full regalia.

The cathedral was the location of three notable weddings.
Pablo Picasso celebrated his first wedding ceremony here in 1921, when he was married by Orthodox rites to Olga Khoklova, a member of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (photo below).

2. Woolworth heiress
Barbara Hutton’s first wedding took place in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris on June 22, 1933 (see photos below). The bride, age 20, had just come into her extraordinary inheritance. She became a “princess” when she married Russian “Prince” Alexis Mdivani of Georgia, a member of a faux-noble family that fled from Russia to Paris after the 1917 revolution. The two were introduced by socialite Elsa Maxwell. Unfortunately, their marriage lasted only a few days shy of two years. As a wedding gift for her Russian husband, Ms. Hutton commissioned a one-off 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II. Mdivani was killed in France (near the Spanish border) while driving it just three months after their divorce. The car, subsequently restored by the original designer, was recently auctioned on E-Bay (starting bid at $1.1 million).

3. In December of 1979 Russian-born cellist/conductor
Mstislav Rostropovich and wife Galina Vishnevskaya (a celebrated singer) posed with their daughter Elena and her husband Peter Daniel at their daughter's wedding ceremony in the St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris, as shown in the photo below.

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