Sending gold balloons aloft in celebration, Boris Yeltsin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church opened the square of a newly rebuilt Moscow landmark Wednesday, the Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Thousands of people ignored the unseasonably cold and windy weather to watch as the Russian president, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Patriarch Alexy II snipped a ribbon to open the cathedral grounds.
The site, which is the size of several city blocks, had been fenced off for more than two years while construction workers rebuilt the huge white cathedral destroyed by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1931.
The cathedral was rebuilt after the cornerstone was laid Jan. 7, 1995, on the original site, along the Moscow River not far from the Kremlin.
The original cathedral, built to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812, took nearly four decades to build and was consecrated in 1883.