The old bell tower on Baumanskaya and the Simonov Monastery complex: landmark buildings are being prepared for restoration

April 17

Preparations have begun for restoration of two significant landmark buildings. It is referred to the Simonov Monastery complex of the 16th-17th centuries, located at 4 Vostochnaya Street, as well as the bell tower of the temple in the name of St. Catherine the Great Martyr. The temple itself has not survived to this day. The belfry, erected in 1915, is located at 18 Baumanskaya Street.

“The bell tower on Baumanskaya Street is in disrepair. It was part of the Old Believers' home church. Since the 1980s, the belfry began to gradually collapse. Experts are examining its condition, as well as archival documents. Based on the information received, they will develop a restoration project. Only after it has been reviewed and approved by the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow, a permit for the restoration will be issued. The bell tower of the temple in the name of St. Catherine the Great Martyr is a cultural heritage site of regional significance. All work will be performed under the supervision of the department experts,” Alexei Yemelyanov, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow, said.

The bell tower is located on the section of Baumanskaya street between Olkhovskaya and Spartakovskaya streets. Before the revolution, this area was called Devkin Lane. In the 19th - early 20th century, here the property of Karasevs, the merchants-Old Believers, was situated.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

At the end of the 19th century, the Old Believers were under strict police surveillance and could not build their own temples. Owing to this fact, they had to create secret churches and chapels. One of them since 1872 was located in the mansion of the merchants Karasevs. The temple in the name of St. Catherine the Great Martyr was hided in a merchant's house until 1905. Then the Old Believers received the right to freely profess their faith and build churches. However, the owner of the property, the merchant I.I. Karasev  did not build a separate temple, but only moved the church from his own mansion to a three-story house in the yard. In 1912, a wooden belfry was additionally built to it, and three years later a stone gate bell tower was erected in its place to the left of the merchant's mansion. The author of the belfry project is the architect Nikolai Blagoveshchensky.

In the lower tier of the building there was an entrance gate to the Karasev’s host yard. In the middle one, there were three belfry spans: one large in the middle and two smaller ones on the left and right. On the third tier, there was one small span. The structure was crowned with a small dome with a cross. The second tier along the perimeter is decorated with ripples in the form of dovetail. This looks alike the Kremlin wall. In its shape, the structure resembled a bell tower at the Old Believers' Rogozhskoye cemetery, but of a smaller size.

After the revolution, the mansion was nationalized and the church was closed.  In 1979 the house was demolished. The bell tower has survived, but loosing the mansion, it lost its support and began to collapse. The ceramic cladding of the first tier has disappeared, the tiles have been lost, the plaster has crumbled. The structure is now in disrepair.

Another landmark building that is being prepared for restoration is the Simonov Monastery complex. It is a cultural heritage site of federal significance. The experts have to perform the research work on eight monastery buildings erected in the 16th-17th centuries. All of them are in poor condition.

This is a new and old refectory, a malting house, palace, three fortress towers: Dulo, Kuznechnaya, Solevaya, as well as a part of the monastery wall with a gate.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

“This monastery has a difficult fate. In the 1930s, a third part of the monastery's buildings was destroyed. Of the six temples, only one has survived - the church in the name of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. Worship services are held there. Three of the five towers of the fortress wall have remained. It is all the more reason for us to protect the landmark buildings that have survived to this day. In the near future, the experts will begin to perform large-scale research work,” Aleksey Yemelyanov explained.

The 1370 is considered to be the foundation date. In the second half of the 15th century, the monastery was part of the system of watch monasteries that protected Moscow from nomads.

In the 1620s – 1640s, brick monastery walls with four gates and five battle towers were erected: Solevaya, Kuznechnaya, Dulo, Taynitskaya and Storozhevaya.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

In the 1677-1680s, large-scale construction work had been performed on the territory of the Simonov Monastery: a new three-story building with a warm refectory and a church in the name of St. Sergius of Radonezh was erected, the Uspenski Cathedral, as well as churches and utility buildings were rebuilt.

In 1788 the Simonov Monastery was abolished. By decree of Catherine II in 1795, the monastery was returned to its former status and all the property transferred earlier to the Epiphany Monastery.

During the Patriotic War of 1812, the monastery was captured by French troops and destroyed, but in the 1820s the complex was restored.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Significant changes in appearance of the monastery ensemble took place in the 1830s – 1850s. During that period, almost all the buildings of the monastery were rebuilt, the facades were altered in the spirit of eclecticism, popular at that time.

In 1920, the monastery was abolished, and a decade later, most of it, along with the Uspenski Cathedral, was blown up. At the same time, the monastery necropolis was completely destroyed, only some of the graves were transferred to the Novodevichy cemetery. At the place of the destroyed part of the monastery, the ZIL Palace of Culture appeared.

Today, on the territory of the monastery, at the parish of the temple of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, there is a community of the deaf and hearing-impaired.

The preservation and restoration of landmark buildings in Moscow is the most important direction in the work of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow. Many of them take on new life, they are adapted for modern use, while maintaining their historical appearance. Since 2011, more than 1500 cultural heritage sites have been restored in the city, of which over 100 in 2020.


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