Historic Moscow Church Returning
to its Former Glory

The imposing front, in the baroque style favoured by Empress Elizaveta
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

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The First Phase of the Restoration of St. Clement's Church in Moscow
Source: All-Russian State TV. Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 40 seconds

The church seen from Klimentovsky Pereulok
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

A distinctive landmark in the centre of Moscow could be back to its former glory within a year.

St. Clements Church, on Pyatnitskaya Ulitsa, is a renowned example of St. Petersburg baroque – but has suffered decades of neglect.

However, with the exterior repair work already complete, the Zamoskvorechye gem is already enjoying a return to its Imperial splendour.

Now the second stage of restoration is underway inside, and supervisor Lyudmila Maksina told journalists she expects the grounds to come into bloom in the coming months.

Liturgy to Library

Built for Empress Elizabeth in the 18th-century, the church was given to the Lenin library as a storeroom in Soviet times.

And that left it in poor condition inside and out by the time much-needed restoration finally started in 2008.

Two years on, the bright red masterpiece is brightening the area around Tretyakovskaya metro station, and offers a rare glimpse of a style seldom seen in the capital.

Elizabeth was fond of the baroque buildings popular in Europe at the time, and far from a traditional Moscow church in the Slavic tradition, St. Clement’s more closely resembles the catholic churches built in Poland or the Czech lands at that time.

Bridging the Schism

And given its design, the dedication to Clement – the fourth bishop of Rome – is particularly appropriate.

The pontiff became patron of Kievan Rus shortly after the eastern Slavs converted to Christianity in 988, long before the great schism which divided East and West in 1054.

Since the saint is also regarded as the patron of officials, it is perhaps not surprising that city bureaucrats have returned the favour by freeing up funding for the restoration work.

And the church’s blessed relationship with the authorities dates back to the 1930s, according to the Moscow Heritage Department.

With Stalin eagerly blowing up churches – most notably the original Christ the Saviour cathedral – a Soviet military commander Kliment Voroshilov stepped in to save the church which shares his name.

New-look Interior

Despite a chequered history, which saw the building survive the 1812 fire during the war with Napoleon, much of the interior detail has survived in some form.

And that includes the original iconostasis, as well as fragments of frescoes and moulded plasterwork decorations.

According to Maksina, all of this could be fully restored within 12 months, RIA Novosti reported – assuming the officials deliver the promised funding.

Sources: The Moscow News, RIA Novosti
5 March, 2011


The church's gates have been restored
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Inside, work is continuing
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Much of the interior has been off-limits in recent years
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Many of the original frescoes are being renewed
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Period details are returning to their former glory
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Period details are returning to their former glory
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Old icons are returning to their original homes
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Period details are returning to their former glory
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

Much of the inside is beginning to take shape again
(Photo © RIA Novosti)

The exterior has been spruced up in recent years
(Photo © RIA Novosti)