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Monasteries pulled down in Stalin times to be restored in Kremlin

August 01, 2014, 17:59 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS / Boris Kavashkin

MOSCOW, August 01. /ITAR-TASS/. The original layout of Moscow’s Kremlin, Russia’s symbol and a unique memorial, will be restored on President Vladimir Putin’s instruction. The proposal to rebuild two monasteries destroyed in 1929-1930 has been greeted enthusiastically, especially by architects. Future generations will appreciate the idea, they say.

Voznesensky convent and Chudov monastery will reclaim their territory on the site of an administrative building built in the 1930s. Until the project is agreed with UNESCO, the place will be used for a park.

The president has also proposed to open the Spasskaya Tower gate for visitors. Early in the 20th century, the entire complex, together with the tower, was closed. It was partly opened in 1955 and has been since then only accessible through the Borovitsaya and Kutafya Towers, inconvenient for those wanting to move from the Kremlin to Red Square.

Chudov monastery was located in the Kremlin’s eastern part, on Ivanovskaya Square. Legend has it that it was this monastery, built in 1365, from where the monk Grigory Otrepyev, or False Dmitry I, fled, making the contentious claim that he was the tsar's son. In 1812, it was a place for Napoleon's headquarters and some of his guards.

Voznesensky convent, standing near Spasskaya Tower close to the Kremlin wall, is believed to have been founded by the wife of the Prince of Moscow, Dmitry Donskoy, in 1386. In the Middle Ages, it was home to the Tsar family's brides before they were married.

“It is certainly a good idea to restore the monasteries, and I am sure the architect community will approve of it,” president of the Union of Architects Andrey Bokov told Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. “What we heard from the president resulted from an active and even heated discussion not open for the public. I hope the Kremlin will regain what it lost. If it has its original layout back it will be an unambiguous sign to the international community that the government places a special emphasis on Russian cultural values.”

“This is the event nobody dared to dream of,” co-ordinator of Archnadzor movement Konstantin Mikhailov is quoted by RBC Daily as saying. Realisation of the project, he added, would restore “the integrity of the Kremlin ensemble” disturbed after destruction of the two monasteries.

Mikhailov compared the Spasskaya Tower gate re-opening to partial Kremlin opening for Nikita Khrushchev's visit in 1955.

“Many future generations will be thankful for restoration of the Kremlin’s integral look,” said president of the Union of Moscow Architects Nikolay Shumakov, quoted in Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

Reconstruction can take architects and conservators about five years, experts say. However, the countdown will only start from the moment UNESCO approves the project.

According to Shumakov, Moscow has experience in such large-scale memorial restoration. After it was decided to reconstruct the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the speed of construction was at lightning pace. “It is important that vigour and determination demonstrated by the president persist,” Shumakov said.

But before putting the historical record straight, historians will have to carry out large-scale archeological digs.

“It should not be a heroic dash. We need systematic and thoughtful scientific work,” said Mikhailov.

Experts lament the fact that these monasteries will surely be remakes.

“Since I studied the history of these monasteries as early as Soviet times, I know there is not plenty of materials to restore them,” said deputy director of Moscow Kremlin museum Andrey Batalov.

Modern materials will be used but it is a relief that before blowing up the monasteries, the Soviet authorities had measured the buildings. Besides, many photos have been preserved.

That the monasteries would be remakes is not a big problem, said Echo of Moscow radio station observer Anton Orekh. “Iverskiye Gates have also been restored, after all, as well as the Kazan Cathedral. Many have no idea these are also reconstructions. In a century, they will become antiquities,” he said, adding that many historical buildings were also radically reconstructed in the past.


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