Downtown Walks. Spiritual Route.

With this post I’m starting a new series of post on theme walks of Novosibirsk, mostly downtown, each of which can be booked as a tour, of course. Read, enjoy, explore Novosibirsk the way YOU want, choose, AND book YOUR walk!

Spirituality and Faith is our core. It is what supports us in times of troubles and what makes us grateful in times of joy and glory.

No matter what confession you belong to (and if you belong to any), you are sure to like this walk full of spirit and reverence.  You will discover Novosibirsk from an unexpected perspective.

From the first day the city has been multiconfessional and tolerant to representatives of all nationalities and religions, and it remains such. Russians, Jews, Tajiks, Armenians, Ukranians, Germans and many other nations live peacefully; Novosibirsk has never experienced any national or religious conflicts.

During this walk you will discover 4 Orthodox and 1 Catholic church, 1 mosque and 1 synagogue, and learn about their history. It is up to you if you visit some of them (of course, following their standard visiting rules).

Of course, en-route you will see many other must-see city attractions. This walk is pretty long; it can take up to 5 hours, especially if you go inside at least some of the included churches. A walk like this should not be done in a rush, thus, if you are pressed for time, the number of worship places can be reduced. Coffee or lunch break can, of course, be done any moment.

  • Ascension Cathedral. This grand looking Cathedral was initially built in 1913. It was wooden, very small and very poor with only one priest and one assistant. In 1937 the church was closed, its priests and lots of the Faithful imprisoned, however, in 1944 it was opened to give people consolation and hope during the time of hardship. The Cathedral was wooden, besides, during the Soviet era religion was principally banned, so by the 1970-ies the Cathedral was in a very bad condition. In the late 80ies it was reconstructed, renovated and expanded. Now it is one of the most beautiful and popular churches in the city. Location: Sovetskaya St.91

  • Mosque. The Local Religious Moslems’ Organisation. This spiritual institution was built in the early 20th century. Now it is included into the list of historical and architectural monuments. In the Soviet time it was closed and the building practically disappeared, as no one took care of it. Now it is fully restored and renovated. It is a place of worship for Moslems and a historical monument definitely worth looking at. Though it’s in the downtown, it’s not easy to find it, as it’s quietly located inside a yard of a Soviet-era residential house. Like many mosques, it has a halal shop. Location: Frunze St.1A

  • St.Nicholas Chapel. Many guide books state that this small and rather strangely located chapel symbolizes the geographical center of Russia. However, even a quick glance at any map proves this is absolutely wrong. The chapel was initially built in 1914 to honour the royal Family of the Romanovs and, at the same time, St.Nicholas, the earthy patron of the city of Novosibirsk, at that time called Novo-Nikolayevsk. The Chapel was built on the crowdfunding basis, and it was the first crowdfunding project in the city; its project was designed by Andrey Kryachkov, the most prominent Novosibirsk architect of that period, completely for free. In 1930 the chapel was demolished by the Soviet Government. Later Stalin monument was erected there, however, it was demolished after Stalin’s death, and the site was empty. In 1993 the Chapel was restored on the same spot and held sacred by the Patriarch himself. It is really small, only approximately 10-15 people at a time can feel comfortable there, and its visiting hours are limited. Still, it’s worth a visit; peaceful and really divine atmosphere make you forget absolutely you are in the middle of the ever-busy city. Location: Krasny Prospect 17A.

  • Synagogue. Or the Jewish Cultural Center. The synagogue is just a part of the Jewish Cultural Center, which does a lot for the large Jewish community living in Novosibirsk. The Jews have lived in Novosibirsk since the foundation day. They possessed several large famous enterprises before the Revolution 1917; during the Soviet times they were suppressed, however, now the community no longer needs to live secretly, and the grand edifice of the Cultural Center erected in 2013 is a good example of that. I can’t say for sure if visits to the Synagogue are possible for non-Jews, but everyone can visit the lobby of the Cultural Center, a kosher restaurant and a gift shop. Location: Schetinkina 68.

  • Catholic Transfiguration Cathedral. This majestic catholic church was opened in 1997 and it is one of two catholic churches in the city. Before the Revolution 1917 there was one catholic church, but, like many other God’s houses, it was closed and later destroyed. The current church is famous for having an organ and it regularly offers exclusive music concerts with participation of the local prominent musicians and singers. As the Catholic community is not large, the church is never full. No matter if you are catholic or not, you can’t help feeling reverence. Location: Gorkogo St.100.

  • Church of the Protection of the Theotokos. This cozy wooden church is one of the true pearls of Novosibirsk. Initially built in 1901, it was a school for homeless kids as well and was engaged in charity a lot. In the Soviet time the church, like most churches, was closed and the building was occupied by different institutions till finally it became too obsolete and nearly disappeared. In the 1990ies it was returned to the Orthodox Church and reconstructed. Believe it or not, in this church you feel truly surrounded by the Spirit. It is never crowded; and as it is wooden, the smell of incense feels extremely strong and very special. If you want to pray, this is one of the best places to go. Location: Oktyabrskaya St.9.

  • St.Sergius Chapel. Even the locals have hardly heard of this small chapel. Quietly located on the site of Nikolas Roerich Museum, this small chapel is not run by the Orthodox Church, but by the Museum. It bears the name of St.Sergius of Radonezh, one of the most worshiped Russian saints who lived in the 14th century and contributed a lot to protection of the Orthodox Faith and the Russian State during the times of the Tatar and Mongol Yoke. Nikolas Roerich, whom the museum is devoted to, was a prominent Russian philosopher, mystic, writer and painter, who was deeply spiritual, but not truly orthodox. His and his family’s religions views were a mixture of the Orthodox, Buddhist and Pagan faith. But the one thing they proclaimed and were seeking for was LOVE. And peace. And here, in the yard of the museum, next to this tiny chapel, and in the museum, you will feel this love. Location: Kommunisticheskaya 38.

  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The dramatic fate of this Cathedral shows that in many (if not all) cases God protects and saves His creations, even if everyone thinks He does not. This beautiful church was built in 1898. It was the first official church in the city and one of the first brick buildings here. The money was partially invested by the Royal Family of the Romanovs and the plot of land was granted completely for free. engineer Nikolay Tikhomirov, the creator of the project, was a talented professional, which later saved the Cathedral. In the early 30ies the Soviet government made attempts to destroy (explode) the building, but the structure was so solid that they just damaged the nearby buildings, but not the Cathedral itself. It was just closed and used for multiple purposes, till in the late 80ies it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Today it’s the most visited place of worship in Novosibirsk, both by travelers and the locals. Each and every city tour has it in the itinerary. In 2017 the monument to the last Russian Emperor Nikolay II and his son Alexey was erected on its grounds. Location: Krasny Prospect 1A.

These are, of course, not all God’s houses in Novosibirsk. Want to see more? Book for a driving tour. Or ask me for a self-guided tour with directions.

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