|Your visit to Moscow is not complete without observing some principal monuments of Russian Orthodox Religion. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest single branch of the Eastern Orthodox religion, which numbers more than 125 million followers. According to the historical record, the residence of the Russian Church moved from Kiev to Moscow in 1320, where it is still located. Its highest official today is the Holy Patriarch of Russia, Alexiy II at present; a council called the Holy Synod helps in the administration department. In Moscow, churches and monasteries have played a dominant role: their five-cupola, tent-shaped or domed silhouettes, graceful bell-towers and festive or austere decor create a picturesque look.|
|The Kremlin and its Cathedrals|
|The Kremlin is the heart of Russia and synonymous with its history, government and power. The Kremlin is Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Elysee Palace, at once the Vatican, Versailles and the Parthenon. It is a unique complex of architectural monuments surrounded by ancient red brick walls crowned with 21 towers. The center of the Kremlin is the Cathedrals Square with the Cathedral of Assumption, where royal weddings, coronation ceremonies and receptions for foreign ambassadors used to take place. The Cathedral of Annunciation and the Cathedral of Archangel Mikhail are located next to it. Some other examples of Russian architecture are: Palace of Facets, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, the bell Tower of Ivan the Great and the Spasskaya (Savoir) Tower, the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon.
A Russian saying goes, “The Kremlin is not a city, but a whole world,” and you will get a chance to feel yourself in the middle of that “whole world.”
|Serguiev Possad – The Holy Trinity Monastery|
|This monastery is one of Russian’s most important spiritual and historical landmarks, founded in the 14th century by Serguies of Radonzh. Tens of thousands made a pilgrimage here every year in spite of the Revolution and they continue to do so. Although the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church has been moved to Moscow’s St. Daniel Monastery, the Holy Trinity still represents the essence of Russian Orthodoxy and houses its seminary. Among the greatest treasures is the stone Trinity Cathedral, built in 1423. Its interior is crowned by icons painted by Old Masters – Andrei Rublev and Daniel Chorny. When Rublev was a monk in that monastery he painted for the church his famous Trinity icon, which is on display now in the Tretyakov Gallery. A copy replaced the church original in the Soviet time. In the monastery you will be given a special tour of the grounds conducted by a priest or monk. It is also possible to visit the Theological Academy Icons Museum guided by a seminarist. By special request we can organize a lunch at the Refectory.|
|St. Daniel Monastery – the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church|
|Located in the southern part of Moscow, on the right bank of the Moskva River, the monastery is believed to be the first in Moscow. Moscow Prince Daniel, the son of Alexander Nevsky, founded it in 1272. Its destiny is quite amazing: being the oldest one in Moscow, it was the last one of Stalin’s time, and the first that was returned to the Church in the 1980s. Nowadays the monastery is the Residence of the Patriarch and his administration.|
|The New Jerusalem Monastery|
|Located in the town of Istra, about 40 km. northwest of Moscow on the bank of the Istra river, the monastery was erected in the 17th century as a replica of Jerusalem by order of the Patriarch Nikon, who was buried in the Resurrection Cathedral. During the Second World War, retreating Germans bombed it heavily. Restoration has been going on since 1958 and recently ended. Armor, Russian paintings and porcelain, books and music scores are on exhibit at the Baroque Nativity Church. The Museum of Wooden Architecture is outside the monastery’s north wall in the park along the river. After many years as a museum, the monastery is a practicing Orthodox monastery again.|
|The Andronicus Monastery|
|Located east of the Kremlin, the monastery was founded in 1360 as an outpost on the approaches to Moscow for defense against the Tatar-Mongols. The founder of the monastery – Metropolitan Alexy – made a promise after getting lost in a storm in the Black Sea to build a new monastery upon his return from Constantinople. It was named after its first monk, Andronik, a disciple of St. Serguis of Radonezh. St. Serguis stayed here during his travels to Moscow. From the 14h to the 17th centuries the monastery was the most important book-copying center. The greatest Russian icon-painter, Andrei Rublev, spent his last years and was buried there; he was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The famous movie by Russian producer Tarkovsky, “Andrei Rublev,” relates the life of the artist when he was a monk in the monastery.|
|The Cathedral of Christ the Savior|
|Located near the Kremlin and adjacent to the Moskva river, the Cathedral, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I, was erected in 1883 to honor those killed in the Napoleonic war of 1812, following 46 years of construction by nearly 100,000 workers. Fifty years later, the Communists wanted to build the Palace of the Soviet here, which was to be the tallest building in the world at that time, crowned with a gargantuan 100-meter-tall statue of Lenin. The Savior’s Cathedral was one of the first buildings that fell victim to Stalin’s reconstruction. The Palace of the Soviet has never been built, but the marble of the Cathedral was used to decorate several Moscow metro stations and its jasper columns now grace Moscow University. In its place, Basin Moskva, an open-air swimming pool, was built on orders from Nikita Khrushchev in 1960. At present a replica of Ton’s original cathedral has been rebuilt in time for the 850th anniversary of Moscow. Some 40,000 businesses contributed toward the new Cathedral completion; some banks donated 100 kg of gold to return the old symbol to the people.
Nowadays, the Cathedral looks like St. Sophia in Istanbul and also serves as a platform to admire the city from a bird’s-eye view.