Armenian Apostolic Church, Church of St. Catherine, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Armenian merchants and artisans appeared on the banks of the Neva River immediately after Saint Petersburg was founded. First written evidence on the activities of the Armenians in Saint Petersburg is dated to 1708. In 1711, Peter the Great gave the following instructions to the Senate: “The Armenians must be treated nicely as much as possible and facilitated where it is proper, in order to motivate them to arrive in greater numbers.”

On 2 May 1770, granting a request made by Ivan Lazarev (1735–1801), the head of the Armenian community and an important statesman and enlightener, Catherine the Great allocated a lot for a construction of an Armenian church, on the north side of Nevsky Avenue. The community immediately started fund raising. The construction of the church and the adjacent parochial buildings was supervised by the author of the design, Saint Petersburg’s major architect Georg Friedrich Veldten (1735–1801). After 8 years, in 1779, opposite the then not yet completed Gostiny Dvor, a slender and smart church emerged; later, an ensemble of the Armenian community’s buildings formed around it.