The Harbin Guide

Harbin, China, in a nutshell.

St. Sofia Orthodox Church

Yes, it’s an Orthodox church. In China! The largest Orthodox church building in the Far East, St. Sofia (also written St. Sophia) was constructed in the early 20th century for Russians and other Orthodox people living in and around Harbin. Russians first arrived to work on the Trans-Manchurian railway, and, after the Russian Revolution at the end of World War I, a flood of emigrés made their way across the border into China.

Built in the neo-Byzantine style, the structure stands 53.3 metres (175 feet) high and occupies a surface area of 721 square metres (0.18 acres). To those unfamiliar with Russian church architecture, St. Sofia is a very unusual and distinctive looking building, with red walls topped with a green dome and steeples each of which is itself adorned with a gold coloured cross. The base of the building is cruciform.

The first wooden structure called St Sofia was put up in 1907. The current building was started in 1923 and finished in 1932. The combination of the internal lighting, light coming in from the windows and the use of bright colours for the internal decor makes the inside of the build especially beautiful. Features of the interior are a chandelier and religious paintings hanging on the walls.

Whenever you choose to visit Harbin, St. Sofia’s is an absolute must-visit. There are better Orthodox buildings out there, but none in the Far East.

See Ming Lee - St Sofia

St Sofia Cathedral in Harbin (圣索非亚教堂)
88 Toulong St, Daoli, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
+86 451 8468 6904


Thanks to See Ming Lee for the image used in this piece. For more on this artist click here.

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