Peter I and His Baroque Church, Only One in Russia

 
This happened long time ago, when the young tzar, Peter I, ascended to the Russian throne. It was a time of troubles for Russia since many struggled for the throne. Dubrovitsy, a small estate near Moscow, was owned by Prince Golitsyn, a tutor of Peter I. Court intrigues forced Boris Golitsyn to leave Moscow for his estate, but after a year, news of his forgiveness reached Dubrovitsy. To mark the reconciliation with Peter I, Golitsyn decided to build an unbelievably beautiful temple, Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, fairly unusual for Russia.

Peter I approved this decision and even recommended an Italian architect. In 1690, he and his entourage took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.


Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia

Along with the Italian architect, foreign masters (Swedish, German, Italian, and French) were invited to Dubrovitsy, but Russian stonecutters also worked with them. The local white stone was used for building the church. The men worked only during summer. In winter,the masters made stone decorations.

When the construction in Dubrovitsy was finished in 1697, the local population was shocked to see that the new church had a distinctly Catholic appearance. A Baroque church in Russia? No way! Patriarch Andrian, a man of conservative views, did not give his blessing to the new church despite Golitsyn’s royal connections and authority.

Decorative stone carving in the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Decorative stone carving in the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

The baroque church of Peter I in Russia.

Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.

This story sparked our interest. My wife and I had seen many European churches, famous and not, but we had never seen a Russian Baroque church. Our cameras, a thermos full of coffee, rented car–let’s hit the road! Just fifty kilometers from Moscow, and we are in the town of Podolsk. Here is the local attraction–the Church of the Sign of Our Lady. Let’s have a walk around it before entering. What is so strange about this building?

Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.

It’s true, the church is very unusual for Russia: the foundation is in the form of a cross, the facade is decorated with sculptures and carvings, and the church doesn’t have the traditional domes with crosses and topped by a gilded crown. Many historians consider the construction of this Baroque church a milestone of the new epoch, the epoch of strengthening centralized power in Russia. Well, that was exactly what Peter I did in those times. Golitsyn’s Baroque church was forced to wait seven years for blessing.

The crown of Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.

The crown of the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia

Baroque Church of the Sign of Our Lady, Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Decorative stone carving in the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Decorative stone carving in the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Only at the end of winter of 1704, was the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy consecrated in the presence of Peter I, his son Alexey, and the tsar’s entourage. This event was celebrated for seven days, and people of different ranks and classes from 50 miles around were invited to the feast.

And what about the interior of the church? It is full of statues and bas-reliefs which Russian Orthodox churches never had. Twenty years after the construction of the church in Dubrovitsy, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church officially banned statues and bas-reliefs in the churches. Perhaps, this church was the reason for such a decision and became the unique structure for Russia. Taking photos inside is not permitted, but … well, you know.

Inside of the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Inside of the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Inside of the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

Decorations of Baroque church in Dubrovitsy near Moscow, Russia.

Inside of the Baroque church in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

After Golitsyn, ownership of the manorial estate in Dubrovitsy changed to the favorite of Catherine the Great, then to Prince Grigoriy Potemkin, and later to another favorite, Alexander Mamonov. Catherine II came to look at “Golitsyn’s pearl” made in the style of European Baroque, and to pray there.

The former masters house in Dubrovitsy, Russia.

The church and estate in Dubrovitsy near Moscow, Russia.

You might expect the estate to be a museum today. But no. It was an orphanage, an agricultural college, an institute of animal husbandry, and after a fire in 1964, a wedding palace. Services resumed in the church only in 1990, along with with wedding ceremonies. The unique Baroque church in Dubrovitsy near Moscow is included into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The estate in Dubrovitsy, Moscow.

Some more photographs, coffee in a small cafe under the same ancient oaks that Peter the Great may have seen, and we went back to Moscow.

More about Russia:

Unique Abandoned Russian Сhurch in Yaropolec
Kizhi Island. The Church Built Without a Single Nail 300 Years Ago!
Epiphany of the Lord or Russian Winter, Russian Cuisine, and Russian Bath

53 Responses to “Peter I and His Baroque Church, Only One in Russia”

  1. sutira Says:

    Beautiful architecture. Beautiful images.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrew Petcher Says:

    Good post, good story, good pictures, I especially like the interior of the dome! Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wordsfromanneli Says:

    I bet the locals worked hard to pay for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hodamaymay Says:

    Wow, that’s perfect 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gracie Says:

    Such a beautiful architecture! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sharon Says:

    AMAZING!!! I habe never seen pictures of this….the interior color is “divine” I love it….the Russians! very Baroque!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. solaner Says:

    wonderful picture of a wonderful church. thanks Victor.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Deep Soul Surfer Says:

    Wow, amazing building you have near Moscow. Will visit when in Moscow;)
    Nice job with the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. wolke205 Says:

    Really impressive! I wish we had a lovely place like that here to get married 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Holly Michael Says:

    Wow! This is so beautiful. I’d love to see this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ship's Cook Says:

    Wow, absolutely stunning

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lisa at fLVE Says:

    The architecture is so ornate. Just stunning. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us. Felt like I just visited the place too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. visualriver Says:

    Thank you for sharing these fantastic photos. I loved my virtual tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Garden Walk Garden Talk Says:

    I am really wowed like everyone else. This church is amazing and so unique with the crown top. I can so appreciate the architecture and think what it must have been like during construction. Thank you for adding the history too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. rommel Says:

    Oh my WOW! The outside alone is majestic and grand enough to see. Scrolling down and seeing those sculptures … oh my WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Margaret Says:

    How beautiful. I love the blue color with the white plasterwork and sculptures. I wish I’d known about this church last time I was in Moscow. I would love to go see it.

    Like

  17. Sheila T Illustrated Says:

    I am speechless. Magnificent architecture. Thanks for sharing something I never knew existed!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Far Side Travel Says:

    A gorgeous building and u can see the italian influence, thanks for showing another side to Russia buildings, will be visiting ur sight more often and learn about Russia , I’m a history buff too!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Spencer Samaroo Says:

    Looks like an awesome building. The architectural detail on it is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sophie's World (@SophieR) Says:

    Great photos of a beautiful church, especially the blue ceilings.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Russel Ray Photos Says:

    Wow! What a church!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. lea Says:

    beautiful Church! i am adding to my must sees when we go visit Russia, thank you! 🙂

    Like

  23. nelieta Says:

    A very beautiful church! I would love to see it next time when I am Moscow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. lioandshezz Says:

    Incredible Vic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. wordsfromanneli Says:

    I know I’ve commented before but looking at this post a second time I’m very impressed by this building (inside and out), your photos of it, and the excellent way you inform us of its history. It gives the building much more character when we know what the story behind it is.

    Liked by 1 person


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