Posted 19 декабря 2022,, 06:47

Published 19 декабря 2022,, 06:47

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Disappearing history: why the Orthodox authorities are demolishing ancient churches

Disappearing history: why the Orthodox authorities are demolishing ancient churches

19 декабря 2022, 06:47
Russia, like no other Christian country, destroyed Orthodox churches in the 20th century. This tradition has continued into the 21st century. Old churches that require reconstruction are apparently easier to demolish than to restore.

After all, the restoration does not promise such financial injections as the program "200 temples" within walking distance.

Irina Mishina

Before the October Revolution in Russia, there were 54,000 functioning churches and more than a thousand monasteries. By the beginning of perestroika, their number had dropped to 6,893 and 15, respectively.

Garage in the church and cut the temple into fragments

The surviving temples were closed and used for completely different purposes. Most of them were adapted for household needs: they were used as warehouses, barracks, palaces of pioneers. So, in St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg there was a warehouse of museum exhibits, and in the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood a morgue was equipped: the bodies of the townspeople who died of starvation were brought there. After the war, the church was given to the Maly Opera House as a scenery warehouse. The Church of Pope Clement in Moscow was given in 1943 to the book depository of the Lenin Library. Other temples were less fortunate. For example, the Church of Peter and Paul in Suzdal was used as a bakery, and the Moscow Church of Boris and Gleb in Degunin was converted into an outpatient clinic in 1941. In the 1960s, the workshops of a knitting factory were located in the temple, and during the restructuring, the building was rented as a garage by the Eye Microsurgery complex. Another Moscow church - the Church of the Nativity in Cherkizovo - was used at various times as a mill, a warehouse, and even a furniture store.

It would seem that these are things of bygone days - but no, the destruction of churches has stepped into our time. Demolition touched first of all house churches. In March, the building of the School for Boys named after Prince Oldenburg with the church of Alexander Nevsky (12 Brigadirsky Lane) was demolished . And in October 2021, the house church of the martyr Tryphon at the former Refuge of the Blind Men (Podolsk Highway, 3) was sawn into fragments for storage. This is all that was achieved instead of the complete demolition of the temple, which was stopped by the city defenders in August 2021.

But these places were specially consecrated, services were held there, people prayed there, who for various reasons (usually for health reasons) could not attend services away from their place of residence. At the same time, in order to equip a temple in a charitable institution, in a hospital, for example, it was necessary to obtain permission from the Holy Synod.

In general, these were real churches, only without golden domes, jewelry or candle shops and bakeries. But they were not lucky: they were located in places that were tasty for developers and did not give rest to modern developers.

"Someone's out of luck"

After the demolition of the house churches, Archnadzor, VOOPIIK and the diocesan antiquarian of Moscow issued an open appeal to the mayor of the city, Sergei Sobyanin, with a call to draw up a special register of the surviving buildings of house churches and protect them from demolition or restructuring by city law. Nothing is known about the actions of the Moscow government in this direction over the past year. No answer, no hello. Probably, the mayor's office is busy building under the program "200 temples" within walking distance, which are already being erected almost on the heads of Muscovites. Not so long ago , NI wrote about the problems of the Salaryevo residential complex in New Moscow, where they were going to build a church under the 200 Temples program on the site of the Ulyanovsk forest - the only green piece of land for which many people bought apartments in this residential complex. And why not use part of the funds allocated for the construction of these very 200 churches to restore the church of the martyr Tryphon, fragments of which miraculously managed to be saved?

How did the demolition of churches become possible under our so pious mayors?

That's how.

“The problem is that many temples today are among the identified objects of cultural heritage, and security restrictions do not apply to them. And since 2013, there has been an unspoken order not to enter Orthodox churches in the register of cultural heritage objects, - says the coordinator of the Archnadzor movement Maria Korobova . – As a result, the developers' hands were untied. With the church of St. Tryphon still turned out quite worthy: the developer did not destroy it, the fragments were sawn, and they are now stored in the Patriarchate. The building of the School for Boys with the Church of Alexander Nevsky in Brigadirsky Lane - 12 was less fortunate. The building was demolished simply barbarously, there was actually a cleansing of the territory without preemptive documents for demolition, the Monarch concern led the whole process. They destroyed the walls of houses, one wall fell on the car, while the developer did not even apologize, escaping with the remark: “Well, someone was out of luck.”

Renovation reached Kitay-gorod

Now, according to the Archnadzor, the Church of the Assumption in Chizhevsky Compound, on Nikolskaya Street, is also under threat. “In the summer, from the act of state expertise for the project of protection zones for this quarter, we first learned about the planned construction. Valuable city-forming objects stand along the lines of the streets, which means that their appearance should be preserved. From the project it becomes clear that the facades are preserved, they themselves are reconstructed with an increase in the number of storeys up to 6-9 floors. It is also planned to retreat from the red lines of the streets. Thus, the project of protection zones, which is designed to protect monuments, already includes the destruction of the historical environment of cultural heritage sites. It is not clear how the church will survive all this, ”Arkhnadzor coordinator Maria Korobova told NI.

The city, of course, must be transformed and developed. But not at the expense of destroying their historical memory. Otherwise, it is no longer development, but degradation.

P.S. We publish a map of historical house churches that are not included in the register of monuments. The list of 78 buildings is presented in the form of a map with texts under geotags. We hope that their fate will be happier than the fate of other Orthodox churches demolished in our time.