Monday 23 April 2012

Russia's Mini-Jerusalem

A lot of the feedback I've received from the previous post about Jerusalem was the 'mini-Jerusalem' I had mentioned, so instead of doing the tedious work of individually informing all of you, I'd rather dedicate a post for it.

The Monastery
The mini-Jerusalem I spoke about was built in 1656 by the Patriach, Nikon. It was called the New Jerusalem Monsastery and was located in Istra, near Moscow. It was primarily built to promote the universal 'mission of Russian Orthodoxy and Autocracy'. Its centrepiece was a replica of the actual Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is now valuable to historians since the original Church was destroyed in the fire 1808.

In 1818, prior to his ascension on the throne, Nicholas I visited the New Jerusalem and was 'deeply moved' by it, such that he ordered its restoration.

During WW2, in 1941, the German army (the 2nd SS division) ransacked the New Jerusalem Monastery. Before their retreat they blew up its unique great belfry; the towers were demolished; the vaults of the cathedral collapsed and buried its famous iconostasis, among other treasures. In 1959, the museum was re-opened to the public, although the bell-tower has never been rebuilt, while the interior of the cathedral is still bare.

Recently, in 2009, the Russian president at the time, Medvedev, issued a presidential order for the restoration and renovation of the monastery (estimated to cost more than 13 billion roubles!)

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