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The Resurrection Gate, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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The original Resurrection Gate, situated in the northwest corner of the square, was built during the 16th century but was torn down in 1931 on Stalin's orders, to ease tank access to the parades on Red Square and as part of the regime's atheistic offensive against the Orthodox Church and all its trappings of worship. The current gate, with the small Iverskaya (or Iberian) Chapel positioned just in front of it, is a replica built in the 1990s to the design of Oleg Zhurin. The original chapel was one of the holiest places in Moscow and contained the Icon of the Mother of God of Iver, a legendary miracle-working icon that was said to have originated in Byzantium at the time of the iconoclasts in the 8th century.

Legend has it that the icon was stabbed in the cheek by one of the iconoclasts and blood started to flow from the wound. Ever since then the icon has been celebrated for it miraculous powers - the ability to cure the sick, to prevent famine and to protect churches and monasteries from destruction. Despite attempts to move it to various churches and monasteries in Byzantium, the icon always disappeared and found its way back to the wall above the gates of the Afon Monastery and became known as "The Gatekeeper".

Two exact copies of the icon were made in the 17th century by the Afon Monastery and brought to Rus at the request of the newly crowned Alexei Mikhailovich. The first copy, later to be replaced by the second, was placed in the Neglinenskaya Tower in 1669, the main gateway to Moscow's inner Kitai Gorod and the traditional route along which the Tsars entered Red Square. The icon was covered by a small porch to protect those praying from the unpredictable Muscovite weather and became a small chapel. In the 1680s the tower gates were rebuilt with two high roofs and an Icon of the Resurrection was placed above them, giving them the name the Resurrection Gates. The Iverskaya Chapel, as it became known, was rebuilt for the last time in the 18th century by the artist Matvei Kazakov, although a gilded angel with a cross was later added to the chapel dome.

Despite the sacred heritage of the Resurrection Gates and the chapel, they suffered the same fate as churches all over Russia at the hands of the Communist regime. The chapel was dismantled in the 1920s to be replaced in 1929 by a modern sculpture of a worker, as "the new socialist gatekeeper" and the gates were removed two years later. In the early 1990s a new copy of the icon was made in Afon, in November 1994 Patriarch Aleksy II consecrated the foundations of the site and the newly built chapel was finally opened less than a year later. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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