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There's a terracotta-colored church on the odd-numbered side of Lubyansky Proezd street, opposite the Polytechnical Museum. It's the Church of St.George The Victor On The Old Archery Fields.
Records mention a church “of St.George In The Cow-Fields” as early as 1460. But the church is better known as St.George's Church On The Old Archery Fields. But the cow-fields in the old name are no coincidence – long ago they grazed cattle and auctioned them here, and another of St.George's roles was the Patron Saint of Herders and Cattlemen. The church's history is closely connected with two Muscovite saints – St.Alexei Mechyova the Righteous, also known as St.Alexei the Muscovite, and the Holy Martyr, St.Vladimir Lubyansky.
The achievements of St.Alexei the Muscovite were primarily in his simple and sincere pastoral ministry. In 1893 he became the Reverend Father of the Church of St.Nikolay of Klyonniki – it's on Maroseika Street, just 200 yards from here. At the time, it was one of Moscow's smallest parishes. Alexei performed the Divine Worship in this empty church every day for nearly 8 years. But over time he gained a reputation as a kindly pastor, and his flock increased greatly. His sermons, according to those who heard them, were simple and honest, underlined with profound faith, truth and understanding of life. He also supported the rebirth of a new tradition of ikon-painting. After the death of his wife Alexei met with St.Ioann Kronstadtsky, and he gained a reputation as a Wise Father – although he had never, in fact, been a monk. He served as a Deacon in the Church of St.George. He died in 1923.
St.Vladimir Lubyansky – born as Vladimir Proferansov – was canonised in 2000. He gained fame as a teacher of Holy Law. He served as an altar-boy, a sacristan, and became a deacon. From 1920 he served for 12 years as the Reverend Father of the Church of St.George On The Old Archery Fields. In parallel with this he worked as personal secretary to His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, and then in the Synod as secretary to Mitropolit Sergey Stargorodsky. In 1932 he was arrested and tortured by the security police, who hoped to force him to cooperate with them. For a whole month Father Vladimir was tortured in the Butyrka High-Security Prison – but they couldn't break him. He was sent to Siberia, to Semipalatinsk, on falsified charges. After his Siberian sentence he returned to Mozhaisk, where he was once again arrested, and refused to become a KGB informant. In 1937 he was taken to the Polygon detention centre in Butovo, S Moscow, and shot. Records show that more than 49,000 people were shot at Butovo in total.
St.Vladimir Lubyansky had a famous saying. “When you find it tough, when you're worried by people and by yourself, when you get muddled in discussion and action, just say this to yourself: “I'll love those who enhance my life”. Try doing it, and you'll see how everything works out and gets easier and unravels – you'll find that you lack nothing, and fear nothing”.
By a grim irony the building of the Church of St.George passed into the KGB's hands in 1932. The roof of the bell-tower was pulled down, and the tower, the tops of the aisles, and railed gates were taken away. the West facade – facing the Polytechnical Museum - was rebuilt out of all recognition, and the entrances to the bell-tower and main church were bricked up. The external decoration was hideously vandalised. The internal height of the church was divided-up by added floors, partition walls were put in, a goods lift installed, and toilets put in. At first it was used as barracks accommodation for troops. Then after WW2 the building was turned into the central boot store and repair factory for the KGB.
Kitay-gorod is one of the oldest parts of Moscow. It appeared nearby the old wooden Kremlin. Although the name translates as “Chinatown,” it probably derives from kita (wattle), referring to the wall that surrounded this early Kremlin suburb. Today, remains of an old city wall and colorful churches are scattered throughout this ancient neighborhood.
The stone walls were erected in the 16th century by an Italian architect known under the name Petrok Maly and originally featured 13 towers and six gates. They were as thick as they were high. The last of the towers were demolished in the 1930s, but small portions of the wall still stand. One of two remaining parts of the wall is located in Zaryadye and the other near the exit from the Okhotny Ryad station of Moscow Metro behind the Hotel Metropol.
Kitay-gorod starts at Red Square. Apart from Red Square, the quarter is bordered by the chain of Central Squares of Moscow, notably Theatre Square (in front of Bolshoi Theatre), Lubyanka Square (in front of the KGB headquarters), and Slavyanskaya Square.
Since time immemorial Kitay-gorod has been developing as a trading area. And for centuries it was known as the most prestigious business area of Moscow. Its three main streets — Varvarka, Ilyinka, and Nikolskaya — are lined with banks, shops, and storehouses. There are also lots of historical buildings that relate to the heritage of the federal and global importance now.
In our tour you will walk along Nikolskaya Street that is famous for being the site of Moscow's first university, the Slavic Greek Latin Academy, housed in extant Zaikonospassky monastery (1660s). Another monastery cathedral, the main church of Epiphany Bogoyavlensky Monastery (1690s), is the oldest male monastery in Moscow, stands in the middle of Kitay-gorod in the eponymous Bogoyavlensky Lane. The 18th century survives in the exterior walls of the otherwise rebuilt Gostiny Dvor (Guest Merchant's Court) by Giacomo Quarenghi.
A whole quarter of Kitay-gorod adjacent to the Moskva River and known as Zaryadye (now just Varvarka Street) was demolished in the 20th century, sparing only those structures that were classified as historic monuments. These include the Cathedral of the Sign (1679–84), the Church of All Saints (1680s), St. George's Church on Pskov Hill (1657), St. Maksim's Church (1698), St. Anna's Church at the Corner (1510s), St. Barbara's Church (1796–1804), the Old English Embassy (1550s), and the 16th century Romanov boyar residence. The two last are the museums. You can visit them to see the life of the first Romanovs in the 16-17th centuries.