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The Resurrection Church is an impressively large church built at the intersection of Bolshaya Nikitskaya and Malaya Nikitskaya streets. With its compass dome and tall bell tower, it quickly picked up the popular name of “Great Resurrection Church” locally. The main entrance is from Voznesensky road, from the direction of the bell-tower.
The northern facade of Great Resurrection Church faces towards Malaya Nikitskaya street, but there is more in view than just the street. Directly opposite the church, where Spiridonovka street branches off, we can see Moscow's outstanding example of style moderne architecture – the mansion of banking mogul Ryabushinsky.
The eastern facade of Great Resurrection Church looks onto a small square, which is formed by the junction of Greater & Lesser Nikitsky Streets (Bolshaya & Malaya Nikitskaya). Here on the square we find a rather kitsch sculpture of the poet Pushkin with his young wife, titled 'Natalia & Alexander'. And directly adjacent to the church is another monument – this time to Russian-Armenian friendship. It was presented to Moscovites by the Armenian community of the capital on the occasion of Moscow's 850th anniversary in 1997.
This monument to Russian-Armenian friendship must be one of the most charmingly feminine sculptures in Moscow. Two white marble girls cling to each in the shade of two blue spruce trees, united by the Christian crucifix. And in fact the sculpture is titled “A Single Cross”. The inscription on the pedestal reads: “Blessed Friendship Down The Ages For The Peoples Of Russia & Armenia”.
The full name of the church is Church Of The Resurrection of Our Lord, Guarding the Nikitsky Gates. The popular name of “Great Resurrection” arose because there was already an earlier Resurrection Church on Nikitsky street, dating back to 1634. So folk began calling the older one “Little Resurrection”, and the grander and newer church “Great Resurrection”. It opened for worship in 1831, and in the same year the poet Pushkin married his young bride Natalya Goncharova. In 1925 the final service was conducted here by Patriarch Tikhon, the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia – after which the church was forcibly closed by the soviet authorities.
The southern facade of the Resurrection Church at Nikitsky Gates faces towards Bolshaya Nikitskaya street. If you stand with your back towards the Resurrection Church, you get a good view of another older church across the road, St.Theodore the Studite – which is nowadays almost in the courtyard of surrounding domestic housing.
This church of St.Theodore the Studite was built at the private cost of Fyodor Romanov – the father of the first of the Romanov Tsars, who himself would later become a senior churchman as Patriarch Filaret. However, the church was desecrated in the soviet era. The bell-tower – considered the first tented bell-tower in Moscow – was pulled down without a second thought, but the church itself was left. One of the church's C18th parishioners had been the legendary Russian general Suvorov – this gave excuse for a soviet-era restoration of the church in 1984, although it opened purely as a museum. Divine worship began again only in 1991.
The great treasure of the church is the Ikon of the Blessed Virgin of Peschanskaya. The dedicatee saint, St Theodore the Studite had been a fervent believer and author of religious tracts in the C11th. By tradition his name could be invoked in problem cases of fires, or to rid oneself of unwanted wild beasts.
The church's western facade is adjoined by a pedestrian footpath and short cut joining Bolshaya and Malaya Nikitskaya streets. It also separates the church from a small square in which we find a bronze monument dedicated to soviet-era sci-fi author Alexei Tolstoy – a latter-day relative of the famous Count Leo Tolstoy. Alexei Tolstoy is seen seated in his favourite chair.
The bell-tower of the Great Resurrection Church is an extraordinary example of a monument which didn't actually exist. The church had been closed for worship in 1931, and in 1937 soviet authorities ordered the destruction of the bell-tower. However, not even soviet authorities dared destroy the church where Alexander Pushkin had married Natalya Goncharova. Instead they put the building to use until 1987 as a high-voltage electrical laboratory. After re-dedication as a church it functioned for many years with no bell tower. The present bell tower was built in 2004, and the architect took many old examples as models, including Empire-style bell towers of the C19th. The bell-tower is 62 metres high, topped with an 11-metre spire. It's the tallest tower within the Garden Ring after the Ivan The Great bell tower in the Kremlin.
We would like to offer you a very interesting tour in the centre of Moscow – around Patriarshiye Prudy or Patriarch’s Ponds. For the last 200 years, there has been only one pond known to the public, although, the name of Tryokhprudny Pereulok (lit. Three-Pond Lane) suggests there used to be more. It is known that in 1683-1684 Patriarch Joachim ordered to dig three ponds for drainage of wetlands and fish farming to the patriarchal table. So, such ponds were fishponds.
The area is named after the seventeenth century Patriarch's Goat Sloboda located on the Goat Marsh. This marsh once was connected by a brook to the Presnya River in the west; by 1739, when the first topographic map was compiled, the brook disappeared and the marsh separated from the Presnya. People considered the swamp as an anomalous zone; apparently this caused a proverb ("Thomas has hastened, but made people laugh - he sticked in Patriarshy").
The pond acquired its present shape and was cleaned up in 1830-31 in the frames of the plan to rebuild Moscow after the Fire of 1812.
At the beginning of the XX century the area around the Ponds was actively built up. Among the buildings appeared at this time, you can see the mansion of Tarasov. In 1924, the Soviet government in the fight against religion renamed the Patriarch's Ponds in Pioneer Ponds. In 1945 in Ermolaevsky Lane a house for senior military commanders of the USSR was built.
Near the Ponds you will find a monument to Ivan Krylov. The fabulist sits surrounded by animated characters of his works: a monkey in front of a mirror, barking pug after the elephant, crow with cheese.
This district is, directly or indirectly, connected with Russian poets: Karamzin, Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Baratynsky, Krylov. Not far from the Ponds lived Vladimir Mayakovsky. In Tree-Pond Lane Marina Tsvetaeva was born.
The novel by Mikhail Bulgakov “Master and Margarita” begins at Patriarch's Ponds. During the tour you will see the Museum-Theatre "Bulgakov's House". The district has a number of museums: Yermolova Museum, State Museum of Oriental Art, Anton Chekhov’s Museum, Svyatoslav Richter Memorial Apartment, Alexey Tolstoy Memorial Apartment, Maxim Gorky Memorial House, etc.