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Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Zvonari (Moscow)

15/8 Rozhdestvenka Street, Moscow (tel.: +7 495 628-32-28, +7 495 628-30-85), Metro stations: "Kuznetsky Most", "Lubyanka".

In the early 17th century, there was a shelter for the poor located near the road passing along the left bank of the Neglinnaya River. Near the shelter, there was the wooden Church of St. Nicholas. In 1657, the wooden church was reconstructed in stone.

Later, in 1677, when the settlement was inhabited by bell ringers from Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the church was called "in Zvonari" ("zvonari" is a Russian word for "bell ringers").

The current building was constructed from 1762–1781. The church was erected by order of Catherine II upon the project of architect Karl Blank. The construction was supported by Count Ivan Vorontsov, the owner of a neighbouring estate.

The building successfully combined classical principles with Russian traditions and a compact dome composition with a cross-shaped interior.

The side-chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the side-chapel dedicated to the Head of St. John the Baptist, and the side-chapel of St. Dimitry of Rostov, existed until 1762. The side-chapel of St. Sergius was arranged in 1766.

The volume of the main building is a monumental double-height square with a big harmonious octagon upon it. The church dominates the surrounding buildings. Its corner pilasters feature magnificent composite capitals. The window frames are adorned with seraphs heads and are so large in size, that one can see them well from a distance. This expressly rich decoration of the church contrasts with the simple and two-dimensional decorative fittings of other buildings.

The church is located at the corner of Rozhdestvenka Street and Zvonarniy Lane. Its eastern, rectangular apse facade faces the Rozhdestvenka Street and protrudes to its frontage line.

Small annexes, which are adjacent to the bell tower sides, were constructed in the late 19th century. The church fence was made in the 19th century as well.

The Church of St. Nicholas was closed in 1933 and became property of Moscow Architectural Institute.

The unique icon of the Mother of God "Seeking of the Lost" miraculously survived during the time of looting. An old parishioner of the ransacked church saved the icon. She did not part with the saved relic even during evacuation time. After the World War II, she gave the icon to Puhtitsa Convent located near Tallinn. However, it was not the end of the icon's history. After the independent Republic of Estonia was formed, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia decided to establish a town church of Puhtitsa Convent in Moscow. Mother Philareta, the abbess of the future church town, was offered to choose one of fourteen suggested Moscow churches. It just so happened that she chose the Church of St. Nicholas in Zvonari. The icon of the Mother of God "Seeking of the Lost" was returned there with much respect. The icon, as well as a cilice and relics of many great saints assembled there, is the main sacred thing of the church.

In 1994, the church town of Puhtitsa Assumption Convent (Estonia) was founded in the church.

In 2006, the church had seven altars. There are the main altar of the Annunciation, the side altar of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the side altar of St. Alexy, the side altar dedicated to Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the side altar of St. Sergius, the side altar of the Repose of the Virgin, and the side altar of St. Dimitry of Rostov.

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Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Zvonari



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