The Russian Orthodox Church has consecrated a golden-domed church on the site where Russia's last tsar and his family were killed by Bolshevik revolutionaries 85
The church stands on the site where the Romanovs were shot
The ceremony in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg was attended by hundreds of people, including cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the Grand Duchess of the Romanov dynasty, Maria Vladimirovna.
Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and his five children were shot dead in 1918 after the Bolshevik revolution overthrew the Tsarist system and installed communism.
The Church on the Blood was built at a cost of 328
million roubles (about US$1m), much of it donated by
large companies, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.
It stands on the site of the house of an engineer named
Ipatyev, where the Bolsheviks guarded the tsar and his family for
78 days before executing them in the cellar. The house was demolished in 1977.
A wife of one of Nicholas's relatives, Olga Kulikovskaya-Romanova, dedicated an icon called The Virgin Mary
with Three Hands to the church. It was found at Ipatyev's home following the killing of the Romanovs.
Years of controversy
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II was too ill to travel to Yekaterinburg, 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) east of Moscow.
But in a message to the faithful who attended the consecration, he said it was "a
possible historic turn" for Russia and called for unity
between the Russian Orthodox church, the state and
the Russian people.
The patriarch said it was important "that at the place where the
blood of the holy regal martyrs was spilled, where an
attempt to destroy Russia was undertaken, should begin a
revival of the glorious traditions under which both the
authorities and ordinary citizens try to co-ordinate their
affairs with God's precepts... to build the kind of
fatherland that would correspond to the ideal of holy
The tsar was believed by the church to have a divine right to rule
The remains of Nicholas II, his wife and three of their five
children, Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia, were unearthed from a
mining pit near Yekaterinburg in 1991.
They were buried at the Peter and
Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg in 1998 after years of argument about their authenticity and several genetic tests.
The remains of two of
the children have never been found.