St. Sophia Cathedral

St. Sophia Church, Harbin
St. Sophia Church
St. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the Far East. It is 53.3 meters (175 feet) high and occupies an area of 721 square meters (0.18 acres). In November, 1996, it was listed as one of the Key Cultural Relics under State Protection. Half a year later, the city government repaired it and renamed it as Harbin Art Gallery. It is a respectable landmark for Harbiners and for tourism.

The St. Sophia Cathedral has a complex history. Shortly after the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), the Russian built the church of timber in March, 1907. 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.

The Byzantine style church is so beautiful, it is said to look as if it had been made by God's hands. In fact, St. Sophia means 'God's wisdom'. Having a Latin cross footprint, the church's original shape was preserved during reconstruction. The St. Sophia Cathedral has four floors and is accessible by a door on each side.

Byzantine-style St. Sophia ChurchUntil the 1960's, the bell tower over the entrance housed 7 bells of different sizes and tones. When there were religious festivals in the past, a well-trained ringer would play musical progressions, tolling the bells with ropes tied to his hands and feet. The bells resounded to the skies.

By the 1990's, St. Sophia had undergone considerable decline. St. Sophia Cathedral no longer was in use, and residential apartments and office buildings surrounded it. Magnificent Russian painted murals adorned on the arched walls of the St. Sophia Cathedral were destroyed out of recognition. While in 1997, the local government under took to undo the decades of deterioration. But as the original Russian murals were lost completely, they were replaced by topically new murals depicting the architectural history of the Harbin community. And crosses that were removed in six places were replaced. Now, the murals, pendent lamps, dome and the bell tower are restored to their original splendor.

How to get to St. Sophia Cathedral

Take bus 1, 5, 13, 20, 47, 53, 61, 85, 113, 114, 130, 131, 132, 133, 136, or 206 to Zhaolinjie (Zhaolin Street).
Harbin Bus Search
Entrance Fee CNY 15
Opening Hours 8:30 - 17:00

 Further Reading:
Christianity in China

Top 10 Things to Do in Harbin

- Last updated on Mar. 23, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on St. Sophia Cathedral
Asked by sharon from SINGAPORE | Jun. 09, 2019 17:36Reply
what shuttle bus from Harbin Airport to take to Zhaolin Jie
Is zhaolin street near zhongyang da jie shuttle bus stop.Where exactly is the bus stop
Answers (1)
Answered by Sean from CANADA | Jun. 09, 2019 23:13

Yes, it is. After getting off the bus, just walk northeast about 800m from the stop to the street.
Asked by B from THAILAND | Jan. 02, 2019 18:30Reply
Hi, do you know how to get to St. Sophia Cathedral from Harbin airport? (And price...)
Answers (3)
Answered by Chase from AUSTRALIA | Jan. 04, 2019 01:28

Take airport shuttle bus line 3 and get off at Central Street first. Then walk northeast around 900 meters to find the church. The ticket fare is CNY20 per person.
Answered by B from THAILAND | Jan. 04, 2019 02:24

Thank you. Actually, I got a few questions that you may be able to help me out
1 how long does it normally take by bus from the airport to the cathedral
2 is there any sign around there that I can see so I'll know where to get off
3 if I take a taxi, how much would it cost me
4 do you know how to get from there back to the airport
5 I'm planning to get there next week and only for 1 day. Must be cold to walk 900 meters in one of the coldest cities. Any suggestion?
Answered by Chase | Jan. 06, 2019 19:26

1. Generally speaking, it takes around an hour on the way.
2. As I know, the driver will announce the stops. You can show your destination to the driver when you getting on the bus. He/She will remind you.
3. If by taxi, the cab fare is CNY80 to 90 in the day time.
4. The return way is the same. Don't worry.
5. For your convenience, you can just take a taxi from the airport to your hotel.

Hope helpful!
Asked by Angel from PHILIPPINES | Feb. 01, 2018 08:21Reply
Hi from guogeli avenue what bus should we take to central street, harbin?
Then from central street how do we go to St. Sophia Cathedral?
Answers (1)
Answered by Robert from FRANCE | Feb. 01, 2018 19:30

You can take a taxi to Central Avenue within 10 minutes, and the fare is around 15RMB.
After getting there, you can take bus 53/ 114. 132 to Zhailingjie, then you will see the cathedral.
Asked by Dominic from MALAYSIA | Nov. 05, 2017 23:26Reply
I'll be going harbin mid Jan 2018. What time will the Sophia Church lights off?
Answers (1)
Answered by Amanda from UNITED KINGDOM | Nov. 06, 2017 00:20

The church itself is closed at 17:00, and the lights off around 22:00.
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