Zhitomirsky Holy Transfiguration Cathedral - the gem of the city - has an unusual history. On June 26, 1804 by the decree of Alexander I, Zhytomyr officially became the center of the Volyn province. At that time, there were only two ancient wooden Orthodox churches in the city – the Trinity Cossack Church, built on Zamkova Hill in the XVII century, and the Dormitory Church on the Podol Hill, built in 1700.
Of course, the province could not dispense with the main temple. The idea of its building was suggested by the Emperor in 1821. However, the construction of the cathedral started only when Alexander II has issued the decree. It was decided to build the shrine on the Torgovitsa square, where the suburban stalls and shops were located. In the center of the square there was a Basilian Greek Catholic Church. The original draft of the cathedral was created in St. Petersburg in 1844. The construction began only 7 years later. In 1853, in consequence of mistakes in the design and insufficient strength of the local bricks, the bell tower fell and destroyed the entire building.
In 1864, the cathedral was re-designed. The famous architect Rohau spent two years on the work and approval of the project. The construction lasted from 1866 to 1874, and was executed under the guidance of Karl Rahau and Ernest Gibert by the experts who built the St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
By the way, the commission, which conducted the technical supervision of the work, was led by the grandfather of the famous poet and artist Maximilian Voloshin - the colonel Ottobald A. Glaser.
The total construction cost, excluding the cost of church plate, was 336 000 865 rubles. According to the decree of the Volyn governor, the stalls were demolished. In 1886, the park was laid out in that place. Only the square has been preserved up to now. The area around the cathedral was redesigned. Its configuration stayed almost unchanged. The entire cathedral is designed in the Byzantine-Russian style with the distinctive features of ancient Russian architecture of XI-XII centuries. The height of the towers is 53 meters.
The weight of the main bell, installed in the bell tower is 500 pounds, while the rest nine bells weigh 1017 pounds. Being 20 kilometers away from the cathedral one can hear the bells. Up to 3,000 worshipers can be present on the service all at once.
The interior design of the cathedral is decorated with granite and labradorite from Volyn and Zhytomyr - the regions that are rich in minerals. The unique iconostasis was made of oak, based on sketches by architect V. Shalamov. Another important historical part of the shrine is an ancient icon of the Holy Basil the Great, transferred here from Ovruch Nicholas Church. According to legend, it was brought by the Prince Vladimir after his baptism. Maybe she saved the cathedral from the destruction. Indeed, in the 1930s the house of the Red Army was planned to be constructed on the site of the sanctuary. But then, the war began, and the cathedral was forgotten. That is why today we can still enjoy this spectacular and unique monument.