RPT: FEATURE - Undiscovered Russia: Unique Church On Coast Of 'Moscow Sea'

MOSCOW/GORODNYA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 16th September, 2020) OSCOW/GORODNYA, Russia, September 16 (Sputnik), Denis Chernyshenko - A Sputnik correspondent has visited Russia's unique Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the village of Gorodnya, which is located only about 85 miles northwest of MOSCOW/GORODNYA (Pakistan Point news / Sputnik - 16th September, 2020) oscow near the shores of the so-called MOSCOW/GORODNYA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 16th September, 2020) oscow Sea, which is an informal name for the Ivankovo Reservoir on the Volga River.

Like in any other country with a predominantly Christian population, there are thousands of churches across Russia. Most of them are classified into several major architectural styles depending on the time and place of their construction.

But not far from Moscow one can see the church, which is the last example of a once prospering architectural school: this is the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Gorodnya in the Tver Region. The church was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005, who attended its Christmas service.

To reach Gorodnya from the Russian capital, one should choose one of two roadways connecting Russia's two biggest cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The first one, called M-10 Rossiya, has been known since the 18th century when it was even described in the famous novel "Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow" by Aleksander Radishchev. The other one, called M-11 Neva, is a toll road, which was opened in November 2019 to make trips between Moscow and St. Petersburg faster.

We decided to use the quickest path but had we not, we would have visited two interesting places. The first is the town of Klin, founded in the 14th century as a fortress on the border between the principalities of Moscow and Tver. The town also hosts the former residence of great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the author of the iconic ballet, Swan Lake.

The other is the group of settlements commonly referred to as Zavidovo. This is a famous resort on the coast of the Ivankovo Reservoir. Zavidovo is a place of multiple townhouse villages and luxurious hotels, it also hosts the beautiful temple complex of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Near Zavidovo, the presidential residence "Rus," which was especially loved by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and known as the Soviet Camp David, is located.

Zavidovo also hosts Nashestvie, one of the largest open-air rock festivals in Russia.

To feel the contrast with the luxury of Zavidovo, one should visit the settlement of Radchenko, which was once known as the center of the Soviet peat industry. The settlement was founded in 1921 as TOS, an abbreviation from Peat Experimental Station, by Ivan Radchenko, who headed the USSR peat industry. In 1928, TOS was visited by Nadezhda Krupskaya, the widow of the USSR founder Vladimir Lenin.

In 1937, Radchenko was arrested as part of Stalin-time repressions and five years later, he died in a prison in the Chkalov Region (currently, the Orenburg Region). In 1954, Radchenko was rehabilitated and 11 years later, TOS was renamed after him.

During Soviet times, the settlement had a unique museum of the peat industry, which was unfortunately closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decay of the industry, mostly replaced by oil and gas.

Today, Radchenko is a settlement with interesting Soviet-era residential houses and a beautiful arc at its entrance.

Gorodnya where the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin is located can be found only several miles from Radchenko. Today, Gorodnya is a big village with many villas on the coast of the Moscow Sea, but in the past, it was a town known as Vertyazin.

Vertyazin was founded in the 14th century as another border town between two major pretenders for the uniting separated Russian states: the Principality of Moscow and the Principality of Tver. Despite the devastating fire in 1412, the 14th century was a time of prosperity for the town when the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin was built.

In 1485, Moscow leader Ivan III the Great took Tver and annexed all its territories, including Vertyazin. In 1569, the town was devastated by the first Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible as part of his punitive campaign against the city of Novgorod, known as the Novgorod Massacre. Vertyazin turned into a village at the beginning of the 17th century when it was devastated by the Polish troops during the Time of Troubles.

The village began to develop in the 18th century after the foundation of St. Petersburg in 1703, as it was located on the road between Moscow and the new capital of the Russian Empire. Empress Catherine the Great built a small route palace here in the second half of the century. One of the chapters of Radishchev's "Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow" is dedicated to the recruitment of local residents in Gorodnya.

The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin is the last example of the Tver architectural style, as all the ancient buildings of Tver itself were destroyed either in multiple blazes or during the Soviet oppression on the religion.

The church underwent a major reconstruction after the 1716 devastating fire: it gained a refectory, a bell tower and a new baroque-style iconostasis.

Unlike most temples in Russia, the church in Gorodnya was not closed in the Soviet era, but in late 1941 it found itself on the frontline, as the Volga River transformed here into the Moscow Sea separated the Nazi troops from Soviet positions. During the clashes, as a result of which Tver (then Kalinin) was first taken by Germany but then liberated by the Red Army, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin was badly damaged. The building was not reconstructed until 1966-1980.

Like in the time of Vertyazin, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin is located on a high hill surrounded by a deep ditch. From the hill, one can enjoy the fantastic view of the Volga River, while at the foot of the hill visitors can collect water from a sacred spring.

The 20th century changed everything here: turned a rural settlement into a townhouse village, the Volga River into the Moscow Sea, a road into a highway, the route palace of Catherine the Great into a hospital. Only the incredible Church of the Nativity of the Virgin is preserving the spirit of ancient Vertyazin here!