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The Metropolitan's Residence at Krutitsky, Russia

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The Metropolitan's Residence at Krutitsky, also know as the Kruyitskoye Podvore or Yard, dates from the 17th century but is based on the site of an earlier 13th century monastery. The complex gets its name from the steep (in Russian krutoy) bank of the nearby Moscow River on which is stands. The site was established at the end of the 13th century as the seat of the Metropolitan of the Christian minority among the Tatar Golden Horde and it originally covered a much greater area until Empress Catherine the Great turned part of the grounds into a military prison, whose buildings can still be seen today. In the 17th century the Bishop Avvakum, leader of the Old Believers sect which branched away from the main Russian Orthodox Church in a schism precipitated by Patriarch Nikon's desire to reform the church, spent a period of time in the gloomy dungeons under the Metropolitan's Residence here before he was eventually sentenced to public burning. Today the complex has been almost entirely returned to the church, which has set up a printing house on the grounds and now hold regular meetings of Orthodox youth groups.

The ensemble is particularly interesting for its architecture, which is entirely Russian and traditional and utterly devoid of any western influences. Its tent-roofed chapels and haphazardly arranged walkways are timeless examples of ancient Muscovite architecture. The complex's centerpiece is the Cathedral of the Dormition, whose five onion domes are constructed entirely of brick, which is connected by an overhead open-roofed gallery to the stone Metropolitan's Palace, along which the Metropolitan used to walk and enter into the church for daily services. Perhaps the most impressive structure in the ensemble is the Krutitsky Teremok, a large arched structure built by the architect Osip Startsev to give the residence a more grandiose air. Metropolitan Iona commissioned the structure to be built to form a grand entrance into the complex. It is ornately decorated with arches, cornices, columns, window frames surrounded by ornately carved branches, leaves and flowers and one wall is entirely covered with brightly colored floral ceramic tiles. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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