An example of Neo-Russian style: Restoration work gets underway at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra on the Three Hills

August 26

Restoration work has started at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra on the Three Hills. The complex of buildings in Novovagankovsky Pereulok is an example of the Neo-Russian (or Pseudo-Russian) style. Components of old Russian as well as Byzantine architecture are typical of this style.

The church was rebuilt on several occasions during its history. Its current appearance took shape in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. It features pediments and decorative mouldings around doorways and windows resembling kokoshniks. The church, the refectory and the four-tier belfry are made of brick. All the facades are plastered and painted white.

The church complex was not renovated for almost 30 years and fell into disrepair. Now conservators have to restore not only the facades, but also the interiors and the iconostasis paintings. They will renovate the refectory and the belfry as well. Builders will reinforce the foundation and the brick walls, replace the roofing and utility lines, and landscape the grounds. Currently, old paint and cracked plastering are being removed from the facades.

“The church and its grounds have a rich history of almost four centuries. The first church on this site was wooden, built way back in 1637. At that time, it was named after St Nicholas and its location, where there were three hills. Almost 100 years later, the wooden church was replaced by a stone one in the Moscow Classicism style, to which several side altars were later added. First came the side altar of St Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov, and later the side altar of the Theotokos Life-Giving Spring icon. The refectory was expanded in 1860. New facades of the refectory and the four-tier belfry with a spherical roof were built in the late 19th century in the Neo-Russian style,” said Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

He also said that the refectory and the belfry stood out against the general architectural style. In 1908, it was decided to perform major renovations and redesign the church in the Neo-Russian style. Georgy Kaizer, a well-known architect, developed the design. Current work plan took into account his blueprints.

Northern facade of the Church of St Nicholas of Myra on the Three Hills in Novoye Vagankovo, 1831. Reproduced from the book Moscow: Photos of Locations, Churches, Buildings and Other Structures. Part IV. Moskva Publishing House. 1886.

The church was closed during Soviet times. Its cupolas were removed, the window openings were filled in, and the building was turned into a community centre. The situation changed in the 1990s: the church was reopened and renovated. 

The Church of St Nicholas of Myra on the Three Hills is an identified historical site. The restoration work complies with documentation approved by the Department of Cultural Heritage and is supervised by its experts. It is to be completed by the end of 2022.

Mansions in Znamenka Street and other works by Georgy Kaizer

Georgy Kaizer (1860–1931) is a Russian and Soviet architect. He graduated from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture as a qualified artist of architecture. In 1895, he became an honorary monitor of the Moscow Palace Orphanage, and started constructing and renovating the orphanage buildings.

The buildings and churches built to his design can be found in Moscow to this day. They include the mansions at 5 Znamenka Street and 23 Bakhrushin Street, the Church of St Metrophanes, Bishop of Voronezh (40, 2nd Khutorskaya Street, Bldg. 1), and the trading house with the belfry of St Nicholas Greek Monastery (13 Nikolskaya Street).

Monument conservation and restoration is a priority of the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage. Many monuments get a new life and are adapted to modern use, while preserving Moscow’s historical look. Over 1,400 cultural heritage sites have been restored since 2011, including 203 in 2019.


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