Designed for processions, alleyways lined with touches of vegetation allow visitors to walk between the buildings that comprise the center, which adjoins a wing of the palais de l’Alma. Called Holy Trinity Cathedral, the main building also goes by the cheeky nickname Saint Vladimir, a reference to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, without whose support it would never have seen the light of day. But doesn’t the city already have a Russian cathedral, Saint-Alexandre-Nevsk, better known as “the Russian church” on rue Daru? Yes, but… the Daru cathedral actually comes under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, not the Patriarch of Moscow, close to the Kremlin.
The architectural competition was launched in 2010, and the project was initially awarded to Manuel Nuñez-Yanowsky, whose plan was rejected by the then mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, who felt it would spoil the Unesco-classified embankment along the Seine. In the previous design, the building was topped by a glass canopy bristling with the mandatory domes. Placed second in the competition, Wilmotte took over the helm and the project went without a hitch. Begun in 2014, the complex is now almost complete. So what do Parisians think of this new and one-of-a-kind monument? Well, one thing’s for sure: it’s certainly a readymade topic of conversation… and maybe controversy.