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Kazan Cathedral, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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The original Kazan Cathedral was built in 1636 in honor of the Kazanskaya Icon and to commemorate Tsar Mikhail Romanov's victory over the Poles and Lithuanians in 1612. The Kazanskaya Icon is one of the city's most precious icons and was discovered by a 9-year-old girl, to whom legend has it the Virgin Mary appeared three times in dreams to tell her of the miracle-working icon's location. During the Time of Troubles Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharin carried the icon from Yaroslavl on a liberation march to Moscow, which was occupied by Polish troops. After a 5-day siege of the Kitai Gorod area of the city, the Poles were defeated and Russia spared, just as it had been promised by Saint Sergei Radonezhsky in a dream to the Greek Archbishop Arseny, who was sheltering in the Kremlin during the battle.

In thanks for this help and protection, Pozharsky built a small wooden cathedral in the 1620s dedicated to the Kazanskaya Icon. Although it burnt down almost immediately a second was built at the state's expense between 1635 and 1636. The church played a central role in the mid 17th century schism in the Orthodox Church, between the Nikonians, the followers of Patriarch Nikon, and the pious Old Believers, who refused to accept the Patriarch's church reforms and who included two arch-priests from the Kazan Cathedral.

Unfortunately, like most of the churches in Moscow, Kazan Cathedral was destroyed by the Bolsheviks, ironically on the very same day in 1936 that the church was meant to celebrate its 300th anniversary. If it has not been for the courageous efforts of the architect Baranovsky, who was also responsible for saving St. Basil's Cathedral from destruction and who made secret plans of Kazan Cathedral even as the building was being torn down, there would be no replica standing on the site today. Once the church had been demolished, various structures were erected on the site, including a street cafe and a public toilet. The decision was taken in the late 1980s to restore Kazan Cathedral according to the plans of the architect Oleg Zhurin, who had studied under Baranovsky. In November 1990 the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II laid the cathedral's foundation stone and three years later, re-consecrated the newly built church.

Today, Kazan Cathedral boasts a pink and white exterior replete with the ornate window frames and gables characteristic of early Muscovite church architecture, and crowned by a cluster of green and gold domes. The church was re-opened on November 4th 1993 on the celebration day of the Icon of Kazan and has been hosting regular services ever since. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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