Russia is an Orthodox country, but in general Russians are tolerant towards other religions. In Moscow you can see Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim churches and cathedrals. They can often be found occupying the same street. A lot of churches have been rebuilt or are being restored now. In the Soviet times religion was persecuted and churches suffered both spiritually and materially. Churches, cathedrals and monasteries are numerous in Moscow though they are not always in good condition. In the eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries (as well as earlier) buildings in Moscow were mostly wooden and not very high and incidences of major fires occurred very often in Moscow. Tall towers and churches of stone with golden domes dominated the city skyline and in the sunlight the beauty of the domes was breathtaking.

Nikolskaya Street Most of the streets led to a church, which can be seen in their names - Sretenka, Petrovka, Ilyinka, Pokrovka, Varvarka, Nikolskaya, Nikitskaya, Rozhdestvenka, (one street led to the church of Candlemas (Sretenie), the other - to the St. Peter's church etc.) Instead of sculptural monuments, Churches, cathedrals and conveys were laid for any event which seemed important. When you enter a Russian church you should be dressed in suitable clothes (no shorts or tops), for women long skirts and kerchiefs are requested. It's not strictly demanded in big cathedrals in the center of Moscow where many tourists crowding into visit makes it impossible to demand that they are all properly attired. However in the common or small churches they may ask you to leave or, look at you deprecatingly.

The Cathedral of Protection of the Holy Virgin on the Trench or Basil's the Gracious Cathedral has become a symbol of Moscow. Located in Red Square, right near the Kremlin, it is bright and beautiful, and is an essential part of Moscow's center architectural ensemble. In the XVI century there was a stone Church of Trinity located here. In 1555 in a small cemetery nearby Basil the Gracious, Moscow's respected fool in Christ, was buried. At this site by the order of Ivan the Terrible seven wooden churches were built and then altered in 1556 to include a great stone cathedral with nine towers. The main one was sacred for the Day of Protection of the Holy Virgin (October the 2nd). All this was constructed in the memory of the capture of Kazan - the capital of the last tartar Khanstvo.

The assault started after the two-month siege, on the 2nd of October in 1552. The builders of the Cathedral were the masters Barma and Postnik. Above the Basil the Gracious tomb a church was built and consecrated in his honor. The Cathedral has been known as Basil's since then. It has been rebuilt several times because of the fires. In 1812, during Napoleon's invasion, a stable was made in the underground rooms of the Cathedral and an order to explode it was given. It was rescued by accident. In 1923 the Cathedral was pronounced an architectural-art museum. In the fifties the restoration work began and in 1966 the fresco paintings were restored. Until now the Cathedral was considered as part of the State Historical museum. The first service after Soviet times was performed on the 14th October of 1991 but daily services are not held.

The Cathedral of Archangel Michael in Kremlin was built (as it looks today) in 1505-1508. The architect was Alevis Novy (Aloizo Lamberti da Montaniano). First, there was a wooden church, then, in 1333 Moscow's Grand Duke Ivan Danilovich had a stone cathedral built in the name of the Archangel, Micheal. The Grand Duke was buried in this cathedral and it had become a royal shrine since then. In 1581 the son of Ivan the 4th, who had been bitten by his father, was buried there. Since the XVIII century members of the royal family were no longer buried in the cathedral as the capital moved to St. Petersburg. Fires and restorations changed the building's appearance. In 1918 the cathedral was closed. Beginning in the 1920's the building has been systematically restored. It was reopened as a museum in 1955.

The Cathedral of Annunciation of God's Mother in Kremlin is on Sobornaya Square. Master carpenters from Pskov constructed it in 1484-1489 at the sight of the old cathedral that had been destroyed by fire. The Iconostasis is probably painted by Feofan Grek, Andrey Rublev and Prohor from Gorodets and was Grand Dukes' house-church. Its prior was the royal family confessor till the XX century. In 1918 it was closed, along with the rest Kremlin Cathedrals. Now the services are performed with the blessing of the Divine Patriarch on great celebrations or on Moscow Saints' memory days.

The Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of God's Mother on Red Square was built by the means of the first tsar from the Romanov dynasty, named Michael. It was sacred to the Icon that was considered to save Russia from the Polish invasion. It turned out to be one of the most important Moscow churches, and its Prior had one of the leading roles in Moscow's clergy. In 1936 the cathedral was demolished, in 1993 it was rebuilt by the city. Services are held daily. The address: Nikolskaya, 5/1, str.1; metro "Aleksandrovsky sad", tel. 925-78-03.

Cathedral of Christ the SaviorThe most remarkable reconstruction of the last century was the erection of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the area of Kropotkinskaya metro, opposite the Pushkin museum of fine arts. The history of the cathedral is interesting as it was built by donations made by the common people. It took forty years to complete the process. In 1932 an explosion planted by the Bolsheviks destroyed it. In the 90-ies a collection for donations to restore the cathedral was announced by the city's administration. A media campaign assisted with the donations and several wealthy Russians and Officials came forward to support the project. As a result, the huge cathedral has been built and presented in triumph as evidence of a spiritual renaissance. The cathedral is not of great artistic value, and it looks a bit strange for an Orthodox church with its gothic modeling and sculptures. However it's going to have the official status, as the main cathedral in Russia, and the services there will become regular. The Patriarch of Moscow Aleksiy II will perform services in the cathedral and sessions of the Divine Synod will be held there. The churches of Moscow are of various styles, as they were built in different times. In XVI - XVII centuries the tent-roofs were set everywhere, there were small domes, high gables, and carved windows that surround beautiful porches. Such designs were cheerful and held a secular appearance. This architectural style is widely presented in Moscow - the Church of Anna's Conception (Moskvoretskaya embankment, 3, the "Kitai-Gorod" Metro station), the Cathedral of St. Vladimir (Starosadsky per., 11, the "Kitai-Gorod" Metro), the Church of St. Trinity at Nikitniki (1631-1634, Nikitnikovsky per., 3, the "Kitai-Gorod" Metro station), the Church of Dormition at Gonchary (1654, Goncharnaya street, 29, the "Taganskaya" Metro), the Church of St. Nicholas at Khamovniki (1679-1682, Lva Tolstogo St., 2, the "Park Kultury" Metro), the Church of St. Simon (1679, Povarskaya St., 5, the "Arbatskaya" Metro). An example of it you see in Kolomenskoe, where the Church of Ascension is situated. Kolomenskoe was the summer residence of Moscow's Grand Princes and Russian tsars from the XIVth century, now it's the State Art and Historical-Architectural Museum-Reservee. Here you can take an excursion to see the historical sights or just have a pleasant walk in the beautiful park. It is located on Kolomeskoe metro station (green, south). The Church of Ascension was built in 1532 in honor of newborn Crown Prince, [and the future] Ivan the Terrible. There is also the Cathedral of Kazan Icon of God's Mother consecrated in 1651, at the reign of Aleksey Mihailovich Romanov. It was closed in 1941-1942, but then the services restarted and have been performed daily till now.

There is also as specific architectural style called Moscow or Naryshkin baroque Naryshkiny were the rich merchants whose constructions gave birth to this style. A character feature of Moscow baroque is its rich decoration. The elegant Church of Intercession at Fili, built in 1693, is a perfect example of such architecture. The address is Novozavodskaya St., 47, the "Fili" Metro station.

In the XVIII century Peter's baroque or classicism appeared. It combined the Russian traditions with the Dutch architectural style. You can see an example of this style in the construction of the Church of Archangel Gabriel on Telegrafny Pereulok Street, 15, close to "Chistye Prudy", in the Church of Ivan the Warrior on Bolshaya Yakimanka Street, 46 ("Oktyabrskaya"), or in the Church of all Saints, built by famous architect O. Bove in 1828-1835 (the "Tretyakovskaya" Metro station).

Patriarchal Cathedral of Epiphany at Yelokhovo (Yelokhovskaya St., 15, the "Baumanskaya" Metro station) represents the Empire style, which is rich and solemn. There the ceremonies with the Patriarch of Russia are often held. In 1799 Pushkin was baptized there.

The Cathedral of Apostles Peter and Paul is a Lutheran church. It was erected in 1903 as the project of the architect Kossov. In the southern part of the grounds there is the Chapel, made by Shehtel (well-known architect of Modern style at the turn of the XIX century). The grounds had been the owned by Lopuhiny, the royal relatives, before being bought by the Lutheran church of St. Peter and Paul. It's one of the Gothic-style buildings that are rare in Moscow. The construction was crowned with a spine (which was removed in 1970-ies) and a tower chime beneath. The salon was famous for its acoustics. "The Domes" of Rahmaninov was first performed here. In 1918 the church was closed, and the building was confiscated from the church. The building became a concert hall where organ recitals took place. Later it was used as a cinema called "Arctica", and then the room was taken over by the "Diafilm" studio.

On Poklonnaya (Bow-greeting) Hill there is the Church of St. George, Moscow's patron, which was built in 1995 in the modern architectural style. You can see while walking in the Victory Park (the "Kutuzovskaya" metro).

The Cathedral of the martyr Tatiyana at the New University (MSU) doesn't look like an Orthodox church, through it is one. It is attached to Moscow's University building. The word "New" for the University refers to the XVIII century. In 1757 it was seen that there isn't enough room in the building of the Old Pharmacy on the Red Square (where the History museum is located now). So a new place was established on Mohovaya Street. The church was consecrated in 1837. The liturgies are on Sundays and on holidays. The address: Mohovaya, 9; metro Ohotny ryad (red).

Old Moscow was encircled with monasteries, and their mighty walls and towers protected the city. Now, as its borders have greatly enlarged, the monasteries are close to the center.

St. Andronicus Monastery was founded in 1360. Here worked the famous Russian icon painter Andrey Rublev, whose art is seemed as foreshadowing the fall of the Tartar Yoke. The main cathedral of the Monastery is Spassky (Savior) Cathedral, built in 1425-1427 and currently used now for religious ceremonies. The rest of the Monastery belongs to the Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Culture and Art. The address: Andronyevskaya sq., 10, the "Ploshchad Ilyicha" Metro station.

Novodevichy Convent is the only Nunnery in the southern defense circle. The Convent was founded by Vasily the Third, the Grand Prince of Russia in the memory of the seizure of Smolensk. Its novices were royal and wealthy ladies. In 1591 this site help to defeat the invasion of the Crimean tartars, led by Khan Kazy-Girey. The Bell-Tower, which is very important in the architectural ensemble, brightly represents the Naryshkin baroque style. The address: Novodevichy Proyezd, 1, the "Sportivnaya" Metro station.

The Monasteries of the Southern Circle:

  • Novospassky (New Saviour) Monastery (Krestyanskaya sq., 10, the "Proletarskaya" Metro station), founded in 1462.
  • St. Simon Monastery (Vostochanaya St., 4, the "Avtozavodskaya" Metro station), founded by the end of the 14th century.
  • Danilov Monastery (Danilovsky Val, 22, the "Tulskaya" Metro station) - the official residence of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Aleksiy the Second.
  • Donskoy Monastery (Donskaya sq., 1, the "Shabolovskaya" Metro station) founded in XIVth century.

The monasteries of the northern defense circle are closer to the center of the city. They go along the walls of the White Town (Bulvarnoye Koltso). Often visited by pilgrims, they were not so important for the defense, as the main danger had always been on the south. There were nine of them but only four have been saved.

  • Vysokopetrovsky Monastery (Petrovka, 28, the "Pushkinskaya", "Tverskaya", "Chekhovskaya" Metro stations).
  • Rozhdestvensky Monastery (Rozhdestvensky Boulvd. 8, the "Kuznetsky Most", "Tsvetnoy Bulvar", "Chystye Prudy" Metro stations).
  • Sretensky Monastery (B. Lubyanka St., 19, the "Turgenevskaya" Metro station), found in XIVth century.
  • Zachatyevsky Convent (2nd Zachatyevsky per., 2, the "Park Kultury" "Kropotkinskaya" Metro stations). There the only Church of Our Saviour Over the Gates stayed (Naryshkin baroque).