Christian Art Adorning the Moscow Subway, Illustrating the Deep Cultural Roots of Russia's Faith

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How images of Christ and the Saints came to be displayed throughout the Moscow underground

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Do you know that the Lord Jesus Christ is depicted at two stations of the Moscow Underground? That the names of two stops of the metropolitan subway come from Orthodox holidays, and that the names of saints are included in the names of three stations? And finally, that Orthodox churches and monasteries are depicted on the walls of ten metro stations? This article will tell you how the transport heart of the Russian capital has incorporated the symbols of Christianity.

How the image of Christ appeared in the subway

Mosaic of Komsomolskaya Koltsevaya (Ring Road) metro station

In 1952, the artist Pavel Korin, descended from a renowned family of icon painters, depicted the Image of Christ the Spas Nerukotvornyy (Savior Not Made by Hands) on the vaults of the Moscow metro station "Komsomolskaya Koltsevaya". On one of the mosaic plafonds, a banner with the image of Christ is held by the holy prince Alexander Nevskiy, behind whom there is the Novgorod Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. On another mosaic, the banner with the face of the Lord is fluttering in the hands of the right-believing Prince Dimitriy Donskoy, who went out with his army to the Kulikovo field. And the third mosaic depicts the liberation of Moscow from the Polish heretic invaders by the militia of Kosma Minin and Prince Dimitriy Pozharskiy. Both of them stand under a banner with the Image of Christ Not Made by Hands, behind them there is the Pokrovskiy (Intercession) Cathedral with clearly defined Orthodox crosses; golden crosses also shine on the chests of the characters. Banners with the sign of the cross also flutter on the plafonds depicting the Great Russian warriors Suvorov and Kutuzov.

These amazing mosaics reflected the turning point in the official attitude of the Soviet authorities to the history of Russia, and then to the Orthodox Church, which occurred in 1941. When the war with the enemy began, whose main goal was the destruction of the Russian people, it became clear that the Russian soldier was ready to sacrifice his life only for the Motherland, for the Fatherland. And then the words were heard on Red Square: “Let the courageous image of our great ancestors - Alexander Nevskiy, Dimitriy Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dimitriy Pozharskiy, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov inspire you in this war!”

Metro station "Komsomolskaya Koltsevaya"

Even during the war, in 1943, the profiles of all the listed commanders were depicted on bronze shields at the Novokuznetskaya metro station. But on Korin's mosaics on the Komsomolskaya Koltsevaya, they no longer appear simply as warriors, but as defenders of Holy Russia, clutching the image of Christ in their hands. And on six side mosaics, the image of the Holy Great Martyr Georgiy Pobedonosets (the Victorious), the heavenly patron of the Christian army, shines.

Thanks to the feat of faith of the painter Pavel Korin, the face of the Lord appeared for the first time on the largest column of the metro station

It was a feat of faith by Pavel Dimitriyevich Korin, the well-known author of the painting “Requiem” (“Departing Russia”). Thanks to this feat, the face of the Lord appeared for the first time at the largest column of the metro station of the capital, blessing the “departed Russia” to return and once again become a stronghold of the true faith on earth.

The path of Russia's return to the faith was the path of repentant reflection on everything that happened to our people in the 20th century. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the image of Christ reappeared in the Moscow metro at the station dedicated to the work of the writer, for whom repentance was the main theme of life and work, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevskiy.

Dostoevskaya metro station

Dostoevskaya metro station was opened in 2010. Working on its design, Russian artists Ivan Nikolayev and Marina Dedova carefully re-read the writer's creations.

A traveler entering the station sees a picture of the battle between Good and Evil going on in the hearts of Dostoevskiy's characters. The first image of Christ on Dostoevskaya is an illustration of that place from the novel “Crime and Punishment”, where Sonya Marmeladova reads to Raskolnikov, whose soul is tormented by the murder he committed, the Gospel of the resurrection by the Lord of the four-day dead man Lazarus. We see the second image of Christ on the panel dedicated to “The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” from the novel “The Brothers Karamazov”. In this parable by Dostoevskiy, Christ appears in the allegedly "Christian" West, where He is immediately arrested, because the words of Truth interfere with the hypocritical builders of "heaven on earth." And the Heavenly King again appears before the court of this world, which condemns Christ to death.

Dostoevskaya metro station

The artist Nikolayev, who transferred these pages from Dostoevskiy's books to the walls of the metro, spoke about their author: "He is called a prophet, and his Christian position is the foundation of his works." And at the station "Dostoevskaya", one can be of the firm belief that Russia will remain in this position forever.

From Transfiguration to Presentation

In 1965, the metro station, under the pretext of whose construction the Church of the Preobrazheniya Gospodnya (Transfiguration of the Lord) had been blown up in Moscow, received, due to an oversight of the atheistic authorities, the name "Preobrazhenskaya Square". Like many stations of the metropolitan subway built at that time, it does not differ in original architecture, but its name was unique until recently, because it reminded of one of the main holidays of the Orthodox Church.

In 1990, the community of believers installed a memorial cross on the square next to the metro, and a long journey of recreating the national holy object began. Finally, in 2015, the temple in the name of the Preobrazheniya Gospodnya (Transfiguration of the Lord) reappeared on the Preobrazhenskaya (Transfiguration) Square of the capital. Now it has the status of a temple of the Russian Ground Forces (Army), since it was originally a regimental church of the Preobrazhenskiy Regiment.

Metro station "Sretenskiy Boulevard"

Another Orthodox celebration, especially near and dear to the residents of the Russian capital, is reflected in the name of the station "Sretenskiy Boulevard". The history of this name is as follows.

In the summer of 1395, Moscow was in turmoil: news came from the south that the great conqueror Timur was coming to Russia, having defeated Khan Tokhtamysh in the Caucasus, whose tributaries were all Russian princes.

On "Sretenskiy Boulevard" Rus, Russia meets the future and everything here shows: this meeting has taken place

Having learned about this, Grand Duke Vasiliy, the son of the right-believing Prince Dimitriy Donskoy, for whom no assistant troops were within reach, decided to resort to God's help. It was decided to bring the miraculous image of the Mother of God from Vladimir to Moscow and pray to Her to intercede for the Christian people before the throne of the Heavenly King. Then all of Moscow came out to meet the icon of the Queen of Heaven with a prayer. And soon it became known that Timur quite unexpectedly turned his army to the south and was leaving the Russian land. Two years later, on the site where the national prayer service was performed before the miraculous image, the Sretenskiy (Meeting of the Lord) Monastery was founded, Sretenka Street appeared, later, in the 19th century, Sretenskiy Boulevard, and in 2007, the metro station of the same name.

Here, through the figure of Gogol with his question: "Rus, where are you rushing to?" - an ancient church manifests clearly, and above the words from Vysotsky's song there is a silhouette of a bell tower covered with gold. On "Sretenskiy Boulevard" Rus, Russia meets the future and everything here shows that this meeting has taken place.

From Vladykino to Troparyovo

Vladykino metro station

Since ancient times in Russia, church hierarchs have been called "vladykas (overlords)." “Bless, Vladyka,” the deacon proclaims as he steps onto the solea before the start of the Divine Liturgy. From this church term comes the name of the Vladykino metro station.

About four centuries ago, the village, which gave its name to the Moscow district, and then to the metro station of the same name, served with its lands to His Holiness Vladyka Nikon the Patriarch, whose name is associated not only with glorious, but also deeply tragic events in the history of the Russian Church. Maybe that's why the darkness of the walls of the Vladykino station is torn in several places with vertical stripes of marble by bronze images of churches. And next to the image of the Bogoroditse-Rozhdestvenskiy (Nativity of the Mother of God) Church, the Most Holy Vladyka himself - the Russian Patriarch is depicted.

Another liturgical term that adorned the map of the Moscow metro is reflected in the name "Troparyovo". The name of this metro station, where the most beautiful trees made of glass and metal “grow” and shine, comes from the church word “troparion” (church anthem). Troparias are sacred hymns created by the Orthodox Church in order to reveal the spiritual meaning of church holidays dedicated to the Lord, the Most Holy Theotokos, and all the saints.

Troparyovo metro station

The history of the Troparyovo district, where the metro station is located, dates back to the time of the holy Metropolitan Alexiy of Moscow, the tutor of the right-believing Prince Dimitriy Donskoy and the de facto ruler of Muscovite Russia during his childhood. One of the employees of Metropolitan Alexiy was the boyar Ivan Mikhailovich, who loved the church service so much that he received the nickname "Troparion", Tropar among the people. Ivan Tropar was an outstanding Russian diplomat. In 1357, he accompanied the primate of the Russian Church during his famous journey to the capital of the Golden Horde, where Saint Alexiy, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, recovered eyesight of the blind khansha (khan's wife) Taidula. In gratitude for the healing of his mother, Khan Dzhanibek exempted all the possessions of the Russian Church from paying tribute, including the boyar-diplomat Ivan Tropar.

In 1372, for participation in the conclusion of a peace treaty with the Principality of Lithuania, Ivan Mikhailovich was awarded the village, which received the name of the owner - Troparyovo, where the church and state diplomat lived near the church he had founded in the name of the Archangel of the Heavenly Hosts Michael and lived until his death in 1393. And 620 years later, the metropolitan metro station "Troparyovo" was built here, the name of which reminds us of the love of our talented ancestors for church hymns glorifying Christ.

Temples on the walls

Images of Orthodox churches began to appear on the Moscow subway in Soviet times

Images of Orthodox churches began to appear on the Moscow subway back in Soviet times. The first were the Pokrovskiy (Protecting Veil) Cathedral on Red Square and the Novgorod Cathedral of St. Sophia, laid out with the mosaic by Pavel Korin on the Komsomolskaya Ring. However, decades later the Church was hushed up, and the question of Russian history, inseparable from Orthodoxy, was tried to bypass in the design of the stations. But gradually everything began to change, and, in 1983, this was reflected in the panels of the Nagatinskaya station.

Their creator, Leonid Pavlov, was in love with the architecture of ancient Russian churches from his youth; he dreamed of bringing elements of their design to the Moscow metro. And he brilliantly succeeded at the Dobryninskaya station, the proportions of which he based on the proportions of the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl. The young architect went to the church intentionally and even spent the night on the bell tower, which was turned into a hayloft in Soviet times, to watch at dawn how the walls of the marvelous temple turn pink, and then turn white.

Nagatinskaya metro station

“I discovered for myself the amazing laws of proportionality in Russian architecture,” Pavlov said. - In "Nagatinskaya", I tried to convey this theme in simple, powerful pillars - like those that are typical for the cathedrals of Novgorod. The columns I planned turned out to be difficult to implement. Nevertheless, I insisted on the implementation of my plan. With difficulty, it was also possible to protect the idea of mosaic on the tunnel walls, which, as they were trying to convince me, were supposedly always hidden from the eyes of passengers by transport. I argued that when people are waiting for a train, they look at nothing but a railroad wall. Artists Eleonora Zharenova and Vladimir Vasiltsov understood me perfectly, having created a beautiful, warm Florentine mosaic.”

Nagatinskaya metro station

If you spend ten minutes and walk along the tunnel walls of this station, skipping trains, the history of Russian architecture will unfold before you. Here, against the twilight background, huge crimson flames flutter - a memory of how often the wooden cities and villages of Ancient Russia burned. Here the bricklayer works with a trowel, the bell ringer strikes the bell, and the Archangel Cathedral with crosses is already rising. And on the other panel there is the bell tower of Ivan the Great, also with a clearly traced cross. Here is the prince with his retinue at the walls of the white-stone Kremlin, in the center of which there is a church. Here is the architect in a caftan with a drawing, and behind him is the Pokrovskiy Cathedral on Krasnaya. And here is the coat of arms of Moscow - St. Georgiy, striking a serpent, and the Kremlin, on the towers of which there are no stars, but eagles are clearly guessed.

Borovitskaya metro station

Only three years have passed, and the theme of Russian architecture was continued in the design of Borovitskaya, a station that lies almost at the walls of the Kremlin. That was the first of the works in the subway by the prominent muralist Ivan Nikolayev. On the end wall of "Borovitskaya" he depicted the "Tree of Peoples’ Friendship", the roots of which grow from the Kremlin. All its cathedrals are crowned with eight-pointed Orthodox crosses. And the red-brick walls of the station are decorated with tiles, on one of which is the Pokrovskiy Cathedral on Red Square (more often called St. Basil's Cathedral). This is its third appearance in the subway.

In the spring of 1991, at the newly opened Vladykino and Otradnoye metro stations, passengers saw the symbols of Christianity

In the spring of 1991, just before the collapse of the atheistic dictatorship, at the newly opened Vladykino and Otradnoye metro stations, passengers saw the symbols of Christianity, rapidly entering the life of a vast country.

On the walls of the Vladykino station, we see the Church of Rozhdestva Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy (the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in Vladykino, the chapel in the name of the Archangel Michael in Kizhi, the Rizopolzhensky Gate Church over the Golden Gate in Vladimir, the Georgian St. Nikolay Cathedral in Nikortsminda. The thirst for religious freedom was so great that the artist Anatoly Mosiychuk depicted here a Catholic cathedral, and even a Sufi madrasah (Islamic school) and a Sunni mosque.

At the same time, the Otradnoye metro station was opened, on whose design Ivan Nikolayev worked. All the paintings at this station are dedicated to the tragic event in the history of Russia, known as the Decembrist uprising. This attempt at a revolution with an intention to rebuild Russia in a Western fashion was decisively suppressed by the young Emperor Nikolay Pavlovich.

Otradnoye metro station

Many Decembrists, exiled to hard labor, then revised their views and became passionately religious people who were committed to the Christian faith. Therefore, at the Otradnoye station, next to the prison, there is a large image of an eight-pointed Orthodox cross and the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Nerchinsk, where the Decembrist Ivan Annenkov and Pauline Gebl got married; she followed him, converted to Orthodoxy with the name Paraskeva. Few people know that the sovereign Nikolay Pavlovich, having learned about her desire to join her fate with the convict, sent her 3,000 rubles for the journey, in fact ensuring her a comfortable living in a harsh land.

The next time the images of churches appeared in the metro for the 800th anniversary of Moscow. In 1997, when the southern lobby appeared at the “VDNKh” station, it was decorated with an elegant Gzhel panel "Fair in Zamoskvorechye". On it, folk festivals take place in the frame of six temples, among which the artists A.V. Tsaregorodtsev and M.V. Podgornaya depicted the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Novodevichiy Convent.

Gzhel panel "Fair in Zamoskvorechye" - The decoration of the southern lobby of the "VDNKh" metro station is a ceramic Gzhel panel "Fair in Zamoskvorechye". The authors are artists M.V. Podgornaya, A.V. Tsaregorodtsev

In 2007, Zurab Tsereteli, the designer of the image of the Trubnaya metro station, had a very clever idea: to reflect the architecture of the cities of the Golden Ring of Russia: Moscow, Vladimir, Velikiy Novgorod, Pskov, Rostov, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Suzdal, and Yaroslavl on twelve stained-glass windows made of colored glass with illumination, as well as of Russian villages: Palekh, Bogolyubovo, and Kolomenskoye. Thanks to this, the metro was enriched with images of masterpieces of Russian church architecture, but one thing is not good: the cross is present here only at the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Kolomenskoye.

Maryina Roshcha metro station

Picturesque mosaics of the Maryina Roshcha metro station, which opened in 2010, are very beautiful. With great love and gentle, "Nesterov-like" colors, the artist Sergey Goryaev depicted the nature of Central Russia, forests and meadows that once covered this area. And in almost all the paintings we can see - either far or near - the image of an Orthodox holy object: these are churches in the name of the martyr Tryphon, in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy", the Descent of the Holy Spirit at the Lazarevskoye cemetery, the Life-Giving Trinity in Ostankino.

The same technique was used for the project closest to us in time, glorifying Orthodox sacred objects in the metro: This is the design of the Belomorskaya station, built in the north of the capital in 2018. On the large mosaic panels, made by a team of artists led by Maxim Kozlov, the majestic polar lights burn and shine, the Solovetskiy Monastery is gently reflected in the water with its walls and domes, majestic Valaam stands level with the clouds. And of course, Kizhi - how could it be without them?

Names of saints on the metro map

Probably, few people passing through the Alekseyevskaya station know that it owes its name to the Monk Alexiy, the man of God. In honor of this amazing ascetic, who left his home and the blessings of this world for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, the local church was consecrated in 1648.

The Monk Alexiy was the heavenly patron of the Russian Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, who loved to hunt in the vast forests that covered these places in the 17th century. In 1670, a traveling sovereign's palace was built on this site, connected by a passage to the Alekseyevskaya Church, so that the Russian tsar could come and pray at the temple of his heavenly patron at any time. Since then, the village began to be called Alekseyevskoye.

In 1812, Napoleon's troops set up a warehouse and a stable in the Alekseyevskaya Church and in the neighboring Tikhvinskaya Church. When Emperor Alexander Pavlovich ordered that funds be allocated from the treasury for the reconstruction of shrines, the dilapidated temple in the name of St. Alexiy was dismantled, and the bell tower of the Tikhvin Church was built from its stone.

Centuries later, city blocks came to the place of the former forests, and the name Alekseyevskiy passed to the new district of Moscow and the metro station. "Alekseyevskaya" was planned with this name in 1954-57, after which it was renamed twice, but in 1990 they returned to the original name, which comes from the name of the reverend.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the names of God’s saints openly appeared on the map of the Moscow metro

And at the beginning of the 21st century, the names of God's saints, glorified by God and the Church as saints, finally appeared on the map of the Moscow metro. The first of them is the right-believing Prince Dimitriy Ivanovich Donskoy.

In 2002, the metro of Moscow City, which exalted to one of the world's major metropolitan cities, went beyond the Moscow Ring Road. And how symbolic it is that the first station built on this new frontier was named "Dimitriy Donskoy Boulevard".

Sculptures "Prince" and "Princess"

At the entrance to the metro you can see a memorial stone with the image of the holy defender and builder of Moscow, and next to it - the image of St. Sergiy Radonezhskiy, blessing Prince Dimitriy for the battle with Mamai, who intended to destroy the Russian Christian civilization. A little further, on the boulevard of the same name, which lies next to the station, there is a sculptural composition depicting the Right-Believing Prince Dimitriy and his wife, the Holy Princess Yevdokia. After the death of the Donskoy the winner, she became the ruler of Muscovite Russia. She secretly led an ascetic prayerful life, and then, when her sons matured, she took tonsure with the name of Yevfrosinia in the Voznesenskiy (Ascension) Monastery founded by her.

And finally, in 2003, one of the modern elevated stations of the same metro line was named after an absolutely amazing saint - the heavenly patron of the Russian Navy fleet, the righteous Admiral Feodor Ushakov. It is known that, despite the many battles in which he won even when the victory seemed impossible, not a single of his subordinates was captured, not a single ship was sunk. The sailors called the righteous admiral "Father" because he set an example of touching concern for the privates. And Ushakov did not attribute a single victory to his military art - he saw in them only God's help and always thanked the Lord.

From the platform of the station "Boulevard of Admiral Ushakov" you can see the domes of the temple of the holy righteous warrior Fyodor. And far away in the vicinity not only the rumble of passing trains is heard, but also the chime of bells, reminding us of the words of the invincible leader of the Russian fleet: “These thunderstorms will turn to the glory of Russia!”

— article by Anatoly Plevo

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