The panel discussion entitled "Spiritual Fortresses of Russia" took place on November 14 as part of the Section "Cultural Tourism." The participants in the discussion talked about the completed restoration projects and the projects currently underway to rebuild monasteries and military fortresses in the Russian Federation, as well as introduced new projects in this area.
The meeting, organized by the Russian Society of Military History (RSMH) was attended by Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, and Chairman of the RSMH Vladimir Medinsky, Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov, Chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture Georgy Shevkunov (Metropolitan Tikhon), Governor of Samara Region Dmitry Azarov and Director of the Department of Culture at the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Vladimir Buzdygan. The event was moderated by the host of programs on Spas TV Channel Alena Gorenko.
Vladimir Medinsky told about results of large-scale works on restoration of Russian monasteries and military fortresses that had been carried out with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation since 2012.
«Tremendous amounts of work are being done over the past several years to restore the Solovetsky Monastery. The place has been completely desolate for a long time, now it is a working monastery and federal museum. The museum is also the largest employer of the nearby town; almost every other resident of Solovki is employed at the museum or nearby. Over the past several years more than RUB 2 billion were spent on restoration of some 20 structures in the monastery. The work is continuing and will be completed by 2024.
Tremendous amounts of work are being done to restore and reconstruct all the buildings of the Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow; this work will be completed only by 2024, in time for the 500th anniversary of the monastery. The total budget allocated to this end by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian is almost RUB 4 billion.
We must understand that each of these monasteries is a great masterpiece of world architecture. Preservation of their spiritual component, their restoration is indeed akin to preservation and restoration of the very essence of our land, as well as a project of great attractiveness to tourists. The project is also of great economic value.
In addition to Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow, there's also the uniquely beautiful Novodevichy Monastery of Resurrection in Saint Petersburg. Budget investments over the past 3 years amounted to RUB 400 million. A total of 7 objects are being restored: The Cathedral of Resurrection, residential housing, a hospital, and the Church of Our Lady of Kazan.
We spent 8 years and more than RUB 2 billion of budgetary investments to rebuild the Kremlin in Astrakhan, almost from scratch. Now opera festivals are being held every year on the beautiful square in front of it.
We also have plans for the Kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod. Considerable work has already been done; we will allocate around RUB 1.5 billion for the next two years, in time for the 800th anniversary of Nizhny Novgorod, on restoration and reconstruction, » declared Vladimir Medinsky.
Georgy Shevkunov (Metropolitan Tikhon) talked about the rich history of the Pskov-Pechory Monastery, its restoration in the 1960s, and the new plan for reconstruction, which is currently being put together.
«Indeed you would rightfully call many of the monasteries in our country spiritual fortresses of Russia. It is the Pskov-Pechory Monastery, Izborsk and Pskov that withstood dozens of attacks by the enemy, sieges and other aggressive actions. In the 20th century, when the religious significance of these churches and fortresses declined to its absolute minimums, they nevertheless remained our spiritual fortresses.
I've studied the photos of the mid-1950s that showed the condition of the Pskov-Pechory Monastery soon after the world war. Nazis bombarded the monastery and destroyed much of it, even one bishop was killed. And then under Archimandrite Alipiy the monastery was restored. Himself an artist, art scholar, great fan of painting and deeply religious, Alipiy was a war veteran. He first resided at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, and then the future Patriarch Pimen sent him to the Pskov-Pechory Monastery. When you come to visit the monastery, you will see the walls. You will be able to tell the original walls that were partially destroyed from the parts of the wall and the towers that were rebuilt by Archimandrite Alipiy. That to say nothing of the churches, ancient paintings that he discovered with Savva Yamschikov in the Cathedral of Dormition, to say nothing of the various service buildings that were built under his management. He had to do his work in the 1960s when the church was not even a legal entity. According to law, the church could not purchase the amount of construction materials it needed, or order any projects; all things were done in a very special way. Fr. Alipiy could somehow pull through with these projects.
The Pskov-Pechory Monastery is the only monastery in the Soviet Union that was never closed and retained all old traditions. Today we are planning the reconstruction of the Pskov-Pechory Monastery. Naturally, we will leave everything just the way it had been under Fr. Alipiy. He had finished the restoration process in the early 1970s, so clearly the time for change has arrived.
Here they had not only a monastery but also a stunningly beautiful little town. There are plans to rebuild it in its former glory, with that surprising spirit of friendliness, the special color palette of a Russian city in the North-West of Russia, which survived all through the 1980s, to the 1990s. This little town would be extraordinarily attractive for pilgrims, for tourists and for many people who come here, first and foremost, young people. Now we are working on starting this project with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, » Georgy Shevkunov (Metropolitan Tikhon) said.