A Tour of Novosibirsk Churches
The idea of this post was suggested by one recent tourist from Malaisia who liked some of the churches in Novosibirsk so much that he asked me if there is a special ‘church tour’ of the city. There wasn’t any until that question was asked, as churches are quite a few of them in the city, with most of them built only a few years ago. This is easily explained by the fact that Novosibirsk was built and developed mainly during the Soviet period, when religion was as good as prohibited and all churches built before the Revolution 1917 were either destroyed or turned into something else. During the Perestroyka the ban on going to churches was lifted, all the existing buildings of churches were returned to the believers and construction of a lot of new churches started, mainly, of course, Russian Orthodox, but Catholic churches and mosques, too.
So, if there is demand, there should be offer. Why not suggest a tour of the Novosibirsk churches? In this post I’ll write about just some of them, which I find to be worth a visit.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, 1899, the oldest church and the first stone building in the city. The church had a difficult fate, it survived the planned destruction only due to its perfect design and, of course, the God’s help. In the 30-ies of the 20th century communists decided to explode the building, two useless attempts were made, which only resulted in destructions of the nearby buildings, so the building was left but turned to the warehouse first, then to a club and in the beginning of the 90ies it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was renovated, some old icons were found, and today the Cathedral is one of the main tourist attractions and one of the most beautiful buildings. It is located in the very beginning of Krasny Prospect, the main city street, thus symbolizing the beginning of the city, too.
Ascention Cathedral, 1913. This church was the only one in the city, which functioned as a church during the Soviet period. It was smaller, there was no chapel and no baptistry, it was much less luxurious inside, but it was the only place people could go on Christmas and Easter days. Now it is the largest church in the city. Its location close to Krasny Prospect metro station makes it the most visited on all church holidays and sermons.
Protection of the Blessed Virgin Church, 1901, restored 1994. This small wooden and very cozy church was first built in 1901 as a church school. It was involved in education, charity and many other social initiatives, but after the Revolution 1917 it was closed as most churches in the country. The building was used for various purposes and as it was made of wood, it nearly broke down with the time, so in the beginning of the 90ies, when religion stopped being prohibited, the Orthodox Church had to rebuild and redecorate the building completely. It is located in the quiet downtown and it never gets really crowded. Its plain and neat atmosphere is so peaceful and serene that even non-christians say they feel relaxed here.
St.Nicholas Chapel, 1914, restored 1993. Considered by many guidebooks to be the geographical center of Russia, this small chapel located rather dangerously and inconveniently in the middle of Krasny Prospect has a more symbolical meaning. It was first built in 1914 to honor the Tsar Family of the Romanovs, and at that time it really was the geographical center of the Russian Empire. It was demolished in 1929, Stalin monument was erected instead, also demolished after Stalin’s death. It was built again in 1993 exactly according to the old pictures and drawings. Today it is mostly visited by newlyweds for wedding photosets.
Michael the Archangel Church and St.Eugene Monastery, 2001. This church is situated in Sovetsky city district, the part called ObGES (right at the water power station), approximatly 20 km from the city center. Initially the church was built there in 1914, it was closed in the Soviet time and finally destroeyed when the artificial Ob reservoir was developed. The city part had no churches up to the beginning of the Perestroyka until in 1993 it was resolved to grant a plot of land to construct the church not far from its original location. Today it is considered by many as one of the most beautiful churches in the city with its yard full of flowers in summer and sparkling snow in winter.
All Russian Saints Church, 1991. Located in the research district of Academgorodok, this church is one of the simplest, but one of the serenest churches in Novosibirsk. Built of wood and surrounded by white birches, it is a real pearl of this city part. The church is engaged in charity and medical activities, it has its secondary school and kindergarten, where together with general subjects children study Orthodox religion. Currently the church is building a house of charity nearby for those who need care. It actively cooperates with foreign charitable and religious institutions.
Transfiguration Cathedral, 1997. In the early days of Novosibirsk, then Novonikolayevsk, there were a lot of catholics in the city who had a church. Like many others, that church was also destroyed under Communism, but in the beginning of the 90ies the Roman Catholic Community obtained a piece of land where they built a small chapel first, and the Gothic-style Transfiguration Cathedral later. The Cathedral is located in the downtown and has a big number of worshippers.
For the time being there are 3 mosques in Novosibirsk, and all of them are visited very well as there are plenty of moslems, the most of them arriving from the former USSR republics. A mosque for them is more than a church, it is a center of their cultural and social life. In the early days there was a mosque in the city, which had a fate similar to all churches in the Soviet Union, the one of destruction. Fortunately the nice building of the first mosque was restored, and today it is one of the attractions of the downtown.
This list of churches is of course not complete. There are much more churches in the city today, at least one in each city district, many small chapels in hospitals and cemeteries.