The facades of two ancient churches and a princes’ tomb on the grounds of Rozhdestvensky Convent have been restored. These buildings are part of an architectural complex and were built as suburb churches in an early Moscow architectural style. The works at 20/8 Rozhdestvenka Street, bldgs. 14, 15 and 17, began in 2017 under the supervision of Moscow’s Cultural Heritage Department. The churches have the status of federal cultural landmarks, and the tomb is a site of regional importance. All the buildings are protected by the state: it is prohibited to change their exterior, rebuild or demolish them.
“Rozhdestvensky Convent gave its name to the street and the boulevard at the crossing where it is located. The convent was erected on the high bank of the Neglinka River. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful architectural complexes in the district, which needed urgent restoration: the facades of its historical buildings were in a deplorable condition. The oldest of them is the 16th-century cathedral, whose foundation was laid in 1501 on the order of Ivan the Great (Ivan III Vasilyevich). The Church of St John Chrysostom was built in 1677 and restored after a fire in the 1770s,” said Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.
A five-century old cathedral
The 16th-century cathedral consists of the central church, the Pentecost side chapel and a roofed porch. During its long life, the church was rebuilt many times and new premises were added. For example, the porch that survived to our day was built to the project of Russian architect and artist Fyodor Shekhtel (1859–1926).
In 1923, during the Soviet period, the cathedral was converted into a militia club. The revival of this monument of Russian architecture began in the late 1950s – early 1960s. At that time, the building was restored only partially. And since the late 1980s, only minor repairs were performed.
The head of the Cultural Heritage Department also added that the large-scale restoration of the cathedral’s facades began in 2017. At that stage, only the first level was done up. The white stone- and brickwork were cleaned of dirt and old paint. The missing sections were replaced and seams reinforced. Then the surface was treated with a water-repellent. In the final phase, the first-level facades were plastered and painted. The works continued on the second level in 2018. The brick-work was also reinforced and restored, the cathedral’s crosses and cross balls were cleaned and gilded, and the water drainage system repaired, as well as granite porches and metal window bars.
Church of St John Chrysostom
The first stage of restoration of the St John Chrysostom Church facades is over now. The brick-work of its facades and dome drums have been restored and reinforced. They were also plastered, repainted and weatherproofed.
The church dates back to the 17th century. Originally it was made of wood but later replaced by a stone structure with five domes in the style of suburban churches. In the 18th century, the church was seriously damaged by a fire but was later restored. Complex brick-work cornices, some dome drum arches, beautiful architraves and gables on the facades have survived from the first stone building to the present time. This cathedral church has two side altars: one dedicated to St Nicholas the Wonderworker and the other to Righteous Philaret the Merciful. Their decoration harks back to ancient Russian fretwork. The works will continue in 2019.
The facades of the two-story tomb of the Lovanov-Rostovsky princes have also been restored. The tomb itself is on the ground floor, and the top floor is a sacristy.
The tomb was built in 1670 to the south-east of the Cathedral of Nativity of Theotokos. The top floor was built in the 18th century. The historical structure was not under repair for a long time. It was restored this year. Chipped spots on the pedestal and facade brick-work have been cleaned and repaired; the broken elements have been fixed and the missing ones replace. The facades have been plastered and painted. Window bars have been repaired, and the drainage system has been renovated. The family of princes Lobanov-Rostovsky dates back to the end of the 15th century. Their family history did not stop, and the princes’ descendants are alive today.
Rozhdestvensky Convent, or the Convent of Nativity of Theotokos, was founded in 1386 by Maria Konstantinovna, the second wife of Prince Andrei Ivanovich of Serpukhov. This is one of the oldest convents in Moscow. It is situated at the crossing of Rozhdestvenka Street and Rozhdestvensky Boulevard. In 1922 the convent was closed, and its historical buildings were used for different purposes. The convent was returned to the church 70 years later.
Moscow continues to preserve and restore its cultural heritage sites.