Neo-Byzantine architecture in the Russian Empire
Neo-Byzantine architecture in the Russian Empire emerged in the 1850s and became an officially endorsed preferred architectural style for church construction during the reign of Alexander II of Russia (1855–1881), replacing the Russo-Byzantine style of Konstantin Thon. Although Alexander III changed state preferences in favor of late Russian Revival, neo-Byzantine architecture flourished during his reign (1881–1894) and continued to be used until the outbreak of World War I. Émigré architects who settled in the Balkans and in Harbin after the revolution of 1917 worked on Neo-Byzantine designs there until World War II.Initially, Byzantine architecture buildings were concentrated in Saint Petersburg and the Crimea, with two isolated projects launched in Kiev and Tbilisi. In the 1880s Byzantine designs became the preferred choice for Orthodox expansion on the frontiers of the Empire – Congress Poland, Lithuania, Bessarabia, Central Asia, North Caucasus, the Lower Volga and the Cossack Hosts; in the 1890s, they spread from the Urals region into Siberia along the emerging Trans-Siberian Railway. State-sponsored Byzantine churches were also built in Jerusalem, Harbin, Sofia and on the French Riviera. Non-religious construction in Byzantine style was uncommon; most extant examples were built as hospitals and almshouses during the reign of Nicholas II.