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Behind Golosov Ravine, on the top of a forest-covered hill, you can see the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist in Dyakovo Village. It is one of Moscow’s most interesting stone architectural monuments of the C16th. Even though researchers have studied the church for many years, its history is still full of mysteries and controversies.
The Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist has constantly attracted Russian researchers. The church is considered to be the predecessor of Moscow’s famous Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, popularly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral. This church in Dyakovo Village is unusual not only in terms of its fundamental and unique design. Equally unusual is its ornamental elements in the form of barrel-shaped turrets surrounding the central dome drum. Interesting and still not fully studied are the fragments of its original interior painting. It shows a red circle with spirals composed of bricks.
Nobody knows exactly when the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist was built. While some experts suppose that the church was built for the wedding of Ivan the Terrible in 1547, others think that the temple was erected some time later. In the Soviet period, the church was closed and abandoned for a long time. Before the 1980 Summer Olympics, the old churchyard had been almost fully demolished for unknown reasons. At one time, Soviet hippies loved to sing their songs in the church, because it had excellent acoustic properties! Long-awaited restoration started comparatively recently. At present, the church is restored and open for public worship.
For many centuries, different scientists searched for the library of Ivan the Terrible – the legendary collection of books and documents brought in by Tsarina Sophia Palaiologina as her dowry. At one time, this collection belonged to the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine. According to recent research, the famous library may be hidden somewhere in the underground vaults of the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Legend has it that tsar Ivan the Terrible often visited the church’s open gallery to enjoy the panoramic view of Moscow from this high bank.
Under the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist in Dyakovo, geophysicists discovered some underground structures. They have not been opened yet. So, it is quite possible that the subterranean mystery will soon be unravelled.
According to a legend, a long while ago, Saint George fought against the Serpent on the top of the hill where now stands the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. The Serpent played a trick and killed the steed of Saint George. The steed fell into a ravine and his hooves made holes in it. Up sprang water from those sacred springs. This was the beginning of the Golosov Stream. It still runs into the Moskva River at the bottom of the hill. You can’t miss it walking along the embankment. Recently, they cleared it and built a nice little bridge. People began to draw water from those springs. Every spring has its own therapeutic effect. They cure ulcers, purify the liver, treat skin problems… But you just have to know exactly what spring should be uses. But they have never drawn water from the fifth. It appeared on the spot where the Serpent fell down conquered by Saint George.
Kolomenskoye is a nice park and a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the southeast of the city center of Moscow, on the ancient road leading to the ancient picturesque town of Kolomna (hence the name).
The area overlooks the steep banks of the Moskva River. This fact will allow you to do a lot of great panoramic photos. This is also a place where seasonal folk festivals take place: honey and handicrafts trade-fairs, religious festivities and processions. If you fond of painting, this is the right place for drawing nature, city landscapes and churches.
The area is rich with cafes and restaurants offering traditional Russian cuisine in wooden houses. Try Russian pan-cakes with different filling, small and big pies, and honey cakes.
Kolomenskoye village was first mentioned in the testament of Ivan Kalita in 1339. As time went by, the village was developed as a favourite country estate of grand princes of Muscovy. The earliest existing structure is the exceptional Ascension church (1532), built in white stone to commemorate the long-awaited birth of an heir to the throne, the future Ivan the Terrible. Being the first stone church of tent-like variety, the uncanonical "White Column" (as it is sometimes referred to) marked a stunning break from the Byzantine tradition.
Recognizing its outstanding value for humanity, UNESCO decided to inscribe the church on the World Heritage List. The estate was one of the favourite places for Ivan the Terrible. He used to celebrate here his name-day in August. In XVI-XVII centuries there develops a unique architectural ensemble, subordinated to the idea of ceremonial royal residence, which is of great artistic and historical value. The heyday of Kolomenskoye is associated with the reign of Alexey Mikhailovich - Kolomenskoye was his favorite residence also. In 1667-1668 a magnificent wooden palace (the Eighth Wonder of the World) which had 250 rooms, was erected. The complex of the royal buildings was surrounded by the wall with three gates: Front, Back and Garden.
The future Empress Elizabeth Petrovna was born in the palace in 1709, and Tsar Peter the Great spent part of his youth here. Upon the departure of the court for St. Petersburg, the palace fell into disrepair, so that Catherine II refused to make it her Moscow residence. On her orders the wooden palace was demolished in 1768, and replaced with a much more modest stone-and-brick structure.
Fortunately, detailed plans of the 17th century palace survived and Moscow Government has completed a full-scale reconstruction in 2010.