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MONASTERIES IN MOSCOW

One of the most imposing and controversial buildings in Russia, the resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has had a short but turbulent history. It was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon, but work did not begin on its construction until 1839. Designed by the great St. Petersburg architect Konstantin Ton, who was also responsible for the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Kremlin Armoury and whose church designs pioneered the Byzantine-revival style, the cathedral was erected, for maximum effect, on the embankment only a few minutes' walk from the Kremlin. Sadly, this entailed the destruction of the medieval Alekseevskiy Convent, a course of events which lends an intriguing irony to the cathedral's own fate.

 

The enormous - and extremely expensive - cathedral was eventually consecrated in 1883, and its vast copper domes dominated the Moscow skyline. However, the cathedral had taken almost as much time to build and decorate as it would remain standing in its original incarnation. For fairly obvious reasons, it was singled out by the Soviet government for destruction and, in 1931, blown to pieces to make way for a proposed Palace of Soviets, one of the most influential pieces of architecture never to be built. The design approved by Stalin would have stood over 400 meters high, with a vast statue of Lenin at its peak, and, although it was never built, the blueprint was nonetheless the forefather of the Seven Sisters, the magnificent Stalinist skyscrapers that lower over central Moscow. Only the foundations had been laid when the Second World War brought an abrupt end to such an ambitious project, and Stalin's successor, Nikita Khruschev, had no stomach for such grandiose displays of hubris. The project was abandoned, and the site turned over to become an open-air swimming pool, the largest in the world, which was kept at a temperature of 27°C all year round. The result was a thick covering of fog that shrouded a number of gruesome deaths (and murders) among the swimmers.

 

The symbolic significance of the site was reaffirmed after the fall of the Soviet Union, when ambitious Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov joined forces with the Orthodox Church to resurrect the cathedral in a $360-million reconstruction project. Completed in 2000, the new cathedral is loosely based on Ton's original designs, but constructed with modern building materials and fitted out with all mod-cons including air conditioning, telecommunications facilities, elevators and underground parking. Visitors can only see the cathedral as part of an organized tour, one of the highlights of which is the panoramic view from the 40-meter-high observation platform.

 

Moscow, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Moscow, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Moscow, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Moscow, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Kolomenskoye is a former Royal estate located in the southern part of Moscow. The estate borrowed its name from the ancient road leading to the town of Kolomna.

 

Not far from the centre of Kolomenskoye estate, there is the most ancient settlement on the territory of Moscow. This site known as Dyakovo Gorodishche is considered to be about 2.5 thousand years old. The first mention of the village Kolomenskoye, which dates back from 1339, is found in the testament of the Moscow Grand Prince Ivan Kalita. Beginning from the 15th century, Kolomenskoye served as a summer country residence for the Grand Dukes of Moscow and Russian Tsars. Due to this fact, a rich architectural heritage was formed in the area. The most significant attraction is the Ascension Church, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Another three architectural landmarks are located in the immediate vicinity of the Church: St. George the Victorious Bell Tower (16th c.), Water Tower (17th c.) and Hunting Pavilion (19th c.).

 

In 1923, Kolomenskoye was turned into an open-air museum of Wooden Architecture. Wooden architecture monuments of the 17th 18th centuries were brought from all across Russia and collected in Kolomenskoye. Nowadays, meadery from the village of Preobrazhenskoe, the tower of the Bratsk prison from Siberia, the gate tower of Nicholas-Karelian Monastery from the White Sea coast, the house of Peter I from Arkhangelsk are an integral part of the Kolomenskoye museum. The museum houses over two thousand Russian paintings from the 15th 17th centuries, fragments of wood and stone carving and examples of the decorations of Moscow`s lost constructions and historical objects. At the far end of the park is located its main highlight, the reconstructed palace of Tsar Alexei, a beautiful example of Russian architecture of the XVII century.

 

Among natural attractions of Kolomenskoye Park are apple orchards. The orchards, reconstructing the Tsars 17th century gardens and covering a vast part of Kolomenskoye Park, are ideal picnicking spots. In winter there are far fewer visitors in the park and it looks even more impressive being dressed in white.

 

Kolomenskoye is one of the most favoured parks of Moscow citizens. The Park regularly hosts all kind of holidays and festivals.

 

Moscow, The Kolomenskoye estate
Moscow, The Kolomenskoye estate
Moscow, The Kolomenskoye estate
Moscow, The Kolomenskoye estate

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a unique monastery complex and the spiritual center of Russian Orthodox Christianity.

 

The Holy Trinity Monastery was founded in 1345 by St.Sergius of Radonezh, monk and hermit from Rostov whose ascetic existence attracted numerous followers.

 
In 1337, after the death of his parents, he decided to leave for the forest together with his elder brother Stephen. The brothers founded their hermitage in a clearing surrounded by thick forest. They built a small wooden church, which they dedicated to the Life-giving Trinity. A flood of believers started to come and eventually a community was set up nearby. That was the beginning of the Trinity Monastery. Sergius was canonized after his death, and his remains lie in the monasterys Cathedral of the Trinity.

 

Due to its location the monastery became a part of the defensive system around Moscow. In 1744 Empress Elisaveta awarded to the Monastery the highest title of Lavra, increasing its paramount in Russian Church and State.

 

In 1746, a terrible fire broke out and most of the wooden structures were destroyed. As a result of the largescale reconstruction works, the appearance of many of the buildings was changed.

 

Ever since St. Sergii founded the monastery in the 14th Century, it has been a hugely popular destination for pilgrims, revered by all from Tsars to Soviet pensioners. If you have the chance to make only one-day trip out of Moscow, then this is certainly where you should go.

 

While the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a popular tourist attraction, it is nonetheless still a sacred place that should be treated with respect. Everyone visiting orthodox churches or monasteries should wear proper attire.

 
For men: wear long pants. No shorts and hats.
For women: wear shirts and blouses with sleeves. Hair must be covered with a scarf. No short skirts.

 

Moscow, The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergii
Moscow, The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergii
Moscow, The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergii
Moscow, The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergii

This unique museum is the resting place for some of the most precious examples of Russian Orthodox art. This incomparable and unusual museum lies in the ground of the Andronikov Monastery, which was founded in the 14th century and long considered one of Russia's most important religious centres, involved in many of the country's defining historical and cultural events. Within the walls of the monastery is the Cathedral of The Saviour, built at the start of the 15th century and decorated by the legendary icon painter Andrei Rublev. His celebrated works take centre stage in the museum, too. The museum's collection also contains the greatest icons gathered from all over central and northern Russia. Here you'll find the richest collection of icons from the Moscow, Tver' and Northern schools of the 14th to the 19th century. Experts also praise the fragments of monumental religious art and the ancient wooden sculptures on display.

 

Christianity was brought to old Rus from Byzantium in 988. As the new religion spread, examples of mosaics and frescoes depicting the saints began to appear. The works were executed on wood using tempera - paints made from a mix of mineral colours, egg yolk and water, and then varnished. If the work was spoiled, then the artist would usually simply paint a new icon on top of the old.

 

During the last century, interest began in the restoration of ancient icons, and many of these ancient masterpieces were discovered under layers of dirt and later paint. Surprisingly, they were very well preserved. Icons were usually encased in rich frames of gold or silver, encrusted with precious stones. The most important quality for an icon was its ability to transmit a feeling of ecstasy and heavenliness. To attain these aesthetic goals, the painters used established techniques: the images of the saints were executed in a particular range of colours, and always appeared to be flat.

 

Few of the names of these ancient craftsmen have survived to this day but, undoubtedly, one of the most famous and talented icon painters was Andrei Rublev, celebrated in Tarkovsky's famous film, in whose honour the Museum of Ancient Russian Art is named. Andrei Rublev lived and worked as a monk in the St Andronicus Monastery, and is also buried here.

 

Moscow, The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art
Moscow, The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art
Moscow, The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art
Moscow, The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art

This small but charming Cathedral was built in the 17th century on the north side of the square near the Resurrection Gate. It was built to commemorate the repulsion of Polish invaders, and in honor of the Virgin of Kazan icon. One of the most revered icons in Moscow, it has been connected more than once with the struggle to protect Russia from her enemies. In 1812, during the Napoleonic wars, a prayer service was conducted before the icon to plead for the safety of the country, and it was even attended by the great Russian commander, Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov.

 

The building is a cube topped with a cluster of domes and encircled by a gallery. In the north-west corner there is a bell-tower, and in the north-east the chapel of Averkiy Ierapolskiy. The Cathedral was restored between 1925 and 1933 by the great architect-restorer Pyotr Baranovsky. However, this did not stop the Soviet authorities from taking the decision in 1936 to have the Cathedral demolished.

 

Fortunately, thanks to Baranovsky, blueprints of the building survived, and in 1989 one of his former students, Oleg Zhurin, took charge of the project to rebuild the Cathedral. This was the first church to be rebuilt in post-communist Moscow. On 4 November 1990, Patriarch Aleksei II laid the first stone of the new building, and three years later the Cathedral was back in all its former glory.

Founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasily III to celebrate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians, the Novodevichy Convent is one of the most beautiful sights in Moscow. It is particularly notable for its architectural harmony of which its position, on the banks of the Moskva River, allows excellent views. The convent is also famous for its New Cemetery, which became the most prestigious in the city in the last century and the final resting place for a number of great cultural and political figures, including Chekhov and Shostakovich.

 

The postcard loveliness belies the Convent's original function as one of the ring of fortresses that guarded the outskirts of the medieval city. Novedichy was positioned strategically to protect the main southern access road to the city at the point where it crossed the Moskva. The convent has enjoyed a prominent place throughout its history, in part as a repository for powerful and troublesome women, most famously the Regent Sophia, Peter the Great's half-sister, who did much to rebuild the convent in the 1680's before being confined here after the streltsy revolted in support of her in 1698. During Napoleon's invasion, the monastery weathered French efforts to blow it to pieces, thanks to some quick-thinking nuns who managed to extinguish the fuses on casks of gunpowder after the soldiers had fled. The convent also made notable appearances in 19th Century fiction, as the site of Pierre's proposed execution in War and Peace, and as the meeting place for Lyovin and Kitty in Anna Karenina (the Maiden Field, below the convent walls, was Moscow's most fashionable skating rink, frequented by Tolstoy).

 

After the Revolution, the Convent was turned into the Museum of the Emancipation of Women, but suffered less than many of its counterparts, and was one of the first to be returned to the Church in the patriotic fervor that followed victory in 1945. Nuns did not return here until 1994, however, and it is still much more of a tourist attraction than a working religious institution - for which we can only be grateful considering the wealth of treasures to be seen.

 

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk is the oldest, and the most important, building in the convent. It was built at the time of the Convent's founding, although its dazzling onion domes were added over a century later. The interior is also impressive, with glorious frescoes dating from 1684 and painted by Dmitry Grigorev of Yaroslavl. There is also a fine five-tiered iconostasis dating from the same period, but in fact brought from the Assumption Church in Pokrovka, which was destroyed by the Bolsheviks.

 

Most of the other buildings of note date from Regent Sophia's time, including the red and white Church of the Assumption and the neighboring refectory, the soaring bell-tower and the north and south gate churches, all of which display variations of the same Moscow Baroque style, making the Convent one of the most resplendent examples of the period.

 

The cemetery next-door is well worth visiting also, not just to pay homage to the great and good buried here - Chekhov, Bulgakov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Eisenstein and Stanislavsky, to name but a few - but also to marvel at the extraordinary granite and metal monstrosities that crown the graves of various politicians and military commanders of the Soviet era. It is a fascinating experience.

The Epiphany Cathedral at Yelokhovo, Moscow, is the vicarial church of the Moscow Patriarchs. The surviving building was designed and built by Yevgraph Tyurin in 18371845.

 

The original church in the village of Yelokhovo near Moscow was built in 1722-31 for Tsarevna Praskovia Ivanovna. It was there that Alexander Pushkin was baptised in 1799. In 1790 a refectory with a four-tier belfry was built.

The present structure was erected in 1837-1845 to a Neoclassical design by Yevgraph Tyurin. The architecture is typical for the late Empire style, with some elements of European eclectics. The riotous opulence of the interior decoration is due to a restoration undertaken in 1912.

Upon closing the Kremlin Cathedrals (1918), the destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (1931) and the Dorogomilovo Cathedral (1938), the chair of Russian Orthodox Church was moved to Yelokhovo, the largest open church in Moscow. The enthronements of Patriarchs Sergius I (1943), Alexius I (1945), Pimen (1970), and Alexius II (1990) took place there.

 

The church has been well-maintained, even in the Soviet era, and is known to have a 1970 air conditioning system using deep subterranean water from a 250 meter deep artesian aquifer.

 

The Christmas and Easter night services, which featured President Boris Yeltsin and Patriarch Alexy II, were aired on national television until the consecration of the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2000.

 

The main altar is devoted to Holy Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The cathedral has two side-chapels: the left one of St. Nicolas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Miracle Worker, and the right one of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin.

Patronal feasts are celebrated respectively on January 6/19 and May 9/12, March 25/April 7.

 

Most venerated shrines of the cathedral are the relics of St. Aleksiy of Moscow, the great intercessor for the Russian land (fast days, February 12/25 and May 20/ June 2, October 5/18) ; the miraculous Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (fast days, July 8/21 and October 22/November 4).

The church was built in 1709 - 17 (according to legend, by order and for contribution of Peter the Great with use of his drawing) in honour of the Victory over the Sweden armies under Poltava (on the 27th of June in 1709). The high altar was in honour of the Martyr. John the Warrior (Patron Saint of streltsy living in the settlement). The first record of its predecessor the church of the same name dated 1625 (it was located closer to the Moskva River, destroyed by flooding, moved to the new place). In the original place of this church in the beginning of the 18th century the Chapel was built (demolished in the 1920-ies). Due to the similarity of some architectural details of the Church of 1717 and the tower of Menshikov some researchers ascribes this church to the works of architect I.P. Zarudny. Under the design of V.I. Bazhenov in 1785-91 the over-the altar canopy on 6 columns and four-tier iconostasis were built. The iconostasis was demolished in 1860 and substituted by the new one. In 1928 in that place the wooden carved iconostasis the contemporary of the Church (1708; according to other sources - 1705) brought from the destroyed church of Three Sanctifiers at Krasny (Red) Gate was installed. It is considered to be one of the best samples of Russian decorative wooden carving of the 17th 18th centuries. Brick fence is with the patterned metal forged grate in style of baroque with vegetation ornament of 1754 - 58.

 
The church follows the style of early Moscow baroque. It has several levels. The first level is a large octagon located on the quadrangular building, has semi-domed form with the corresponding octagonal internal cloistered vault. The second octagon that looks like a lantern is crowned with the semi-dome. Both side-chapels of the refectory have cupolas outside. Above the each side-chapel there is an independent cloistered vault with four decks. The bell tower is octahedral (the bells are extant). The church has not been closed. Later to the Church the icons, church plates and shrines with fragments of relics of saint bodies were handed over from the closed neighbouring churches.

St. Clement's Church ( , ) is one of the two Orthodox churches in Moscow dedicated to a Roman Pope, St. Clement I. The massive five-domed two-storey church used to dominate the skyline of Zamoskvorechye. It was built between 1762 and 1769 on the site of a church erected in 1720.

 

The church is considered a major example of Elisabethan Baroque, but the architect is unknown. It has been often attributed to Pietro Antonio Trezzini, the architect of St Sampson's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The belfry and refectory were designed by either Aleksey Yevlashev or Ivan Fyodorovich Michurin for the earlier church building in the 1750s. 

 

The church is renowned for its glittering Baroque interior and iconostasis, as well as a set of gilded 18th-century railings. The parish was disbanded in 1934 and the original free-standing gate was demolished. The Lenin State Library stored its books in the building throughout the Soviet period. It was not until 2008 that the building reverted to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary is a neo-Gothic church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow. Located in the Central Administrative Okrug, it is one of only two Catholic churches in Moscow and the largest in Russia.

 

The construction of the cathedral was proposed by the Tsarist government in 1894. Groundbreaking was in 1899; construction work began in 1901 and was completed ten years later. Three-aisled and built from red brick, the cathedral is based on a design by architect Tomasz Bohdanowicz-Dworzecki. The style was influenced by Westminster Abbey and Milan Cathedral. With the help of funds from Catholic parishes in Russia and its neighbouring states, the church was consecrated as a chapel for Moscow's Polish parish in 1911. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks and Russia became part of the newly formed Soviet Union. Because the promotion of state atheism was a part of MarxistLeninist ideology, the government ordered many churches closed; the cathedral was closed in 1938. During World War II, it was threatened with demolition, and was used after the war for civil purposes, as a warehouse and then a hostel. Following the fall of communism in 1991, it returned to being a church in 1996. In 2002 it was elevated to the status of cathedral. Following an extensive and costly programne of reconstruction and refurbishment, the cathedral was reconsecrated in 2005.

 

In the 21st century, after 58 years of non-religious use, the cathedral is once again the setting for regular liturgical celebrations in multiple languagesRussian, Polish, Korean, English, French, Spanish, Armenian and Latinas well as benefit concerts featuring organ and church music. Its organ, the third since the cathedral's construction, was donated by the Basel Mnster. The cathedral is listed as a heritage building in the Russian Federation, and is a protected monument.

Church of St. Louis of France is a Catholic church in Moscow. It is one of the three existing Catholic churches in Moscow, along with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church of St. Olga in Lublin. There are a Sunday school and scout movement in the church.

 
In 1789 the French living in Moscow petitioned for permission to build a Catholic church. After receiving the permission from the Moscow authorities and the approval of the Empress Catherine II a small wooden church was built. The consecration of the church in the name of the French King Louis IX Holy was held in 1791. In the 19th century the construction of a modern building on the site of the former temple was carried out. The construction was carried out in 1833 - 1835. Famous architect A.O.Gilardi built the temple. The consecration took place only in 1849. At Church of St. Louis there were two high schools a male gymnasium of St.Philip Neri and a women's gymnasium of St.Catherine and also a charity shelter of St.Dorothea.

 
Church of St. Louis of France was built in the classical style. It is a basilica with a high central and lower side aisles. The entrance is decorated with a colonnade. On both sides of the colonnade are located low belfries. In the 1990s there was a large-scale reconstruction of the interior space of the church.

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