The Russian Orthodox Church of Florence was built between 1899 and 1903 and is known as the church of the Nativity of Christ: it is the first Russian religious building in Italy and its construction is owed not only to a few worshippers and the parish priest of the time, but also to the Demidoff family-noble lineage of patrons and philanthropists - and Emperor Nicholas II.
It towers among the Florentine streets despite being hidden by thick vegetation and a wrought-iron gate and is about 15 minutes from Santa Maria Novella Station.
The church is a unique example of cooperation between Russian and Italian artists and craftsmen: the wall paintings and icons that adorn the interior were painted by Russian artists while the wall work, iconostasis carvings, mosaics and majolica decorations are the work of Italian craftsmen.
The two-story temple includes an upper church and a crypt.
The interior of the upper church, dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, is decorated with a cycle of wall paintings in the Russian art nouveau style which came to prominence in the early 20th century thanks to well-known Russian artists such as Ivan Bilibin, Viktor Vasnecov, and Mihail Nesterov.
The precious icons in the crypt, instead, come from the famous workshop of Pešechonov.
The iconostasis of white Carrara and yellow Siena marble, with icons of the patron saints of the imperial family, is a gift from Tsar-martyr Nicholas II.
The exterior features five onion domes that provide a unique spectacle thanks to their unmistakable colors and shape.