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 before that question was asked, as there are very few churches in the city, the majority of which built only recently. This is understandable, because 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 situation changed, all the remaining church buildings were returned to the Orthodox community and a lot of new churches were constructed, 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 you can read about some of them, which are worth a visit in my view.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, 1899, the oldest church and the first brick building in the city. The church had a difficult fate, it survived the planned destruction only thanks to its perfect design and, of course, 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 minor destruction 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.
Ascension 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 school. It was involved in education, charity and many other social initiatives, but after the Revolution 1917 it was closed, like 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 symbolical meaning. It was first built in 1914 to honor the Tsar Dynasty 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 (close to the hydro power station). Initially the church was built there in 1914, it was closed in the Soviet time and finally destroyed when the artificial Ob reservoir was developed. There were no churches in this city part up to the beginning of the Perestroyka, but in 1993 it was resolved to grant a plot of land to construct the church not far from its original whereabout. 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 constructing a house of charity nearby for those who need care. It actively cooperates with foreign charitable and religious institutions.
The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
Located in a remote city part, this new church (opened in 2009) is unknown to even residents of Novosibirsk. The church looks majestic when you first see it. You access the church from the park, and the closer you come, the greater it looks and feels. Rather laconic inside, it offers the visitors quiet and peaceful environment for prayers and contemplation.
Transfiguration Cathedral, 1997. In the early days of Novosibirsk, then Novonikolayevsk, there were a lot of Catholics in the city, and they had their church, too. 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 worshipers.
Today 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 in the downtown.
This list of churches is 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.