Work is now complete on the installation of a mosaic composition on the cupola at St Sava’s Cathedral, Belgrade, organised by Gazpom Neft. A special commission — including representatives from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Federal Agency (Rossotrudnichestvo), the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches, and the Cathedral Restoration Society — have all been highly appreciative of the quality and artistry of the mosaic artwork. Work on the interior decoration of the St Sava Cathedral was undertaken by an artistic team led by Nikolai Mukhin, a member of the Russian Academy of Arts, with Gazprom Neft having committed EUR4 million to financing the mosaics on the cupola. The decoration of the cupola at St Sava’s Cathedral, Vračar, is one of the most important projects in the world involving the mosaic decoration of a curved space (the total area of the artwork being 1,230 square metres), with 70 Russian and Serbian master craftsmen having worked on the central composition, “The Ascension of Christ”.
Alexander Dybal, Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications, Gazprom Neft, commented: “Russia and Serbia are bound together by centuries of friendship, with collaboration between our two peoples going back to the introduction of Christianity to Russia. And the Orthodox religion has been fundamental in uniting Russia and Serbia. So there is no surprise in this cathedral becoming a major symbol of Russian—Serbian spiritual bond. I, together with my Russian and Serbian colleagues, have kept a close eye on work on the installation of the mosaics at the cathedral, with everyone being given the opportunity to get involved, laying their own piece of glass in the emerging composition. And this is highly symbolic, since the St Sava Cathedral really is being built through Serbs’ and Russians’ joint efforts.”
Constructed on the site on which relics relating to St Sava were desecrated by the Ottoman regime in 1594, the Cathedral of St Sava in Vracar is Serbia’s most important architectural monument and one of the most important Orthodox cathedrals in the world. While architectural plans for the cathedral were drafted in the 19th century, construction commenced only in 1935, before being delayed due to the start of World War II. While construction of the cupola was completed in 1989, the cathedral was not official opened until 2004 with works on the interior decoration of the cupola still ongoing. Gazprom Neft is financing the mosaics decoration of the interior of the cupola as part of its implementation of a major programme supporting projects preserving Serbia’s culture and historical heritage. Gazprom Neft is the largest foreign investor in Serbia.