From female convents to synagogues and cathedrals
text by Artem Ladeyshchikov
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Ivan Erofeev
Moscow is a city of many confessions. Churches from various historical eras and styles harmoniously coexist with each other within the city. QR Media selected the most unusual religious buildings in Moscow.
Church of the Theotokos of the Sign in Kuntsevo
This Eastern Orthodox church was built in the very beginning of the 20th century, in 1913. Its architectural style, called Byzantine revival, is typical for Western Europe during the 19th century, but very uncommon for Russia. It drew its inspiration from Byzantine art of the 6th-8th centuries. Under the Soviet Union, the church was heavily damaged and partly deconstructed. Over many decades, it changed its function many times: it was used as a factory, a library and even a sports club. The church was rebuilt only in the 1990s, but today it once again serves as a religious building.
Bolshaya Filevskaya, 65
This female convent was founded in 1908. There used to be a manor on the site of the church, but it has been modified over the course of several renovations. For example, its sunroom was turned into a hospital ward. The architecture was planned in such a way that patients could observe religious services without getting up from bed. The style of the convent is unusual for its time: despite the fact that it was created in the 20th century, its architects deliberately gave it the appearance of a medieval Russian fortress with snow-white walls.
Bolshaya Ordynka, 34
St. Andrew’s Anglican Church
The only Anglican church in Moscow was founded in 1884. Its architect, Richard Knill Freeman couldn’t come to Moscow for the construction process, so he sent one of his church projects to Russia as a blueprint. The construction works were completed by local architect Boris Freidenberg. The building is made out of red brick in the pseudo-Gothic style. The entrance is decorated with two statues of angels holding thistle branches, a symbol of Scotland. Rumour has it that these statues were delivered from the United Kingdom specifically for this project. Due to its unique acoustics, the building was used as a recording studio during the Soviet period. Today, classical organ music concerts are held here regularly.
Richard Knill Freeman
Church of the Sign of Our Lady in Dubrovitsy
This church is located in Moscow suburbs, but should you find yourself somewhere in the area, this is a sight that has to be seen. It was built out of stone from 1690 to 1703 in a heavy Baroque-like style, very unusual for Russia at that time. The architects are still unknown. They may have been foreign, as the style of the church resembles German Baroque.
St. Peter’s and Paul’s Cathedral
Built from 1903 to 1905, this unique cathedral was almost destroyed during the 20th century. The church was rebuilt almost from scratch, so now it has many modern features: the windows were covered with new stained glass, the walls were decorated with paintings and heating was installed under the marble floors. The organ currently used for services is one of the oldest in Russia: it was made back in 1898. Regular concerts and even small classical music festivals take place here.
Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue
This synagogue was originally built as a private chapel for wealthy industrialist Lazar Polyakov in 1883. He bought several pieces of land close to his manor on Bolshaya Bronnaya Street and gained permission from the authorities to create a house of prayer on the territory. The synagogue, originally visited by approximately 40 families, became popular, and for some time it was one of the main synagogues in Moscow. It gained its unusual current appearance in 2005 during renovations. Today, the synagogue itself is augmented by an education centre and a kosher restaurant inside.
Sergei Estrin (new building)
Bolshaya Bronnaya, 6 st.3
This mosque was built in 1997 as a monument to all the Muslim soldiers who died during the World War II. Today there is a madrasa, a Muslim community center and a religious school inside. Services are conducted in both Arabic and Russian. Guided tours for visitors are also offered.
Ilias TajievBuilt: 1997