Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almaty

The World’s Tallest Wooden Orthodox Christian Temple


Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in AlmatyThe Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral (formerly Turkestan Cathedral) is located in the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen in the historical area of Almaty, the ‘southern capital’ of Kazakhstan. The Ascension Cathedral belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church is the world’s tallest wooden Orthodox Christian temple and one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings. The distance between the ground and the tip of the cross on the main dome is 39.6 m, while the height of the steeple is 46 m. The cathedral accommodates 1,800 people.

This imposing structure of the Russian imperial period is a unique wooden architectural monument in the Ukrainian baroque style topped with five bright domes. Inside the walls of the cathedral are decorated with colourful frescos and an ornamented iconostasis.

The very idea to construct a wooden building of this height and scale in an earthquake zone was very bold. Engineer A. P. Zenkov undertook to implement it, Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almatyfor which he made considerable amendments to a project developed earlier by architect K. A. Borisoglebsky.

The construction of the temple began in 1904, and in 1907 the building was completed. This unique earthquake-resistant monument is made of Schrenk’s spruce. The building was successfully tested by a disastrous earthquake in 1911: the only consequences were broken windows and the slightly sunk corner of the steeple. Though enormously tall and large, the structure was very flexible and behaved like a tree in the wind, which ensured its high resistance to seismic activity.

In the Soviet period the cathedral housed the Central State Museum of the Kazakh ASSR, while its steeple was turned into the first radio station in Kazakhstan.

Only in 1995 the building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Currently, liturgies in the cathedral are read on a daily basis; in addition, there is a Sunday school.


Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almaty Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almaty Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almaty Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral in Almaty

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