Moscow Main Archive Directorate publishes unique documents on 20 lost churches and chapels

December 17, 2020
Social sector

The Moscow Main Archive Directorate and the Real Estate State Inspection have launched a project to identify unique documents related to Moscow’s historical appearance. Over the first two months of their joint work, the agencies found design documentation for about 20 Moscow churches and chapels that had been  destroyed and demolished in the 1920s–1930s.

All the documents – plans, blueprints and watercolour pictures of facades – can be seen online on the archive’s website, in the Unique Documents category (in Russian). Soon they will also be included in the State List of Unique Documents of the Moscow Archives.

“Thanks to our joint education projects, people in Moscow will be able to imagine what the city looked like in the early 20th century. Documents about 20 lost churches and chapels have historical value and by publishing these documents we will allow people to see those gems of church architecture that have not survived until today. We plan to continue this work and discover new unique documents about Moscow,” said Anastasia Rakova, Deputy Moscow Mayor for Social Development.

As part of this project, experts of the Moscow Main Archive Directorate are carrying out extensive research on valuable documents and will then select those of unique historical value.

“Experts of the Real Estate State Inspection and the Moscow Main Archive Directorate examining scientific and technical documentation of the Moscow Archives. They are carrying out a comprehensive assessment on the significance and uniqueness of documents based on how they were created, by which architect, as well as on their cultural and historical significance, as well as on a number of other criteria. In this project, the State Real Estate Inspectorate acts as an expert and its conclusions allow these materials to be included in the State List of Unique Documents and for special storage,” said Moscow Mayor for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations Vladimir Yefimov.

Layouts of St Basil of Caesarea’s Church actually signed by the outstanding architect Fyodor Shekhtel, watercolour layouts and drawings of the Trinity Church in Bolshiye Luzhniki, as well as pictures of the iconostasis, which was located in the aisle of St Nicholas’s Church on Myasnitskaya Street, are the most interesting documents. Plans of Tychon of Amathus’s temple, which consisted of two symmetrical and outwardly separate churches, demonstrate an architectural technique that is rare for Moscow.

In the early 20th century, Moscow was home to 10 cathedrals, 26 monasteries, 412 Orthodox churches and 10 churches of other confessions: Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Armenian Gregorian. There were 166 hospital chapels, shelters and educational institutions. In the 1920s – 1930s, however, four cathedrals, eight monasteries, 111 churches and several chapels were demolished.


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