WHS: Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

Once the MBLTdev speech was brought off successfully, time for a road trip to visit some of the lesser known Moscow area World Heritage Sites; last time we were in this neighbourhood it was still the Soviet Union —

— our favorite line to the friendly Muscovites at the show was “Second time in Moscow. But first time in Russia!” That was consistently good for a chuckle, and a couple outright laughs —

— and we started the morning in the southern suburbs, at

Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

Church of the Ascension

The Church of the Ascension was built in 1532, in the imperial estate of Kolomenskoye, near Moscow, to celebrate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV “the Terrible”. The church is now situated near the centre of Moscow on the steep slope that descends to the floodplain of the Moscow River. The church represented a new stage in Russian architecture. It is the first tent-roofed church to be built in stone. The remarkable tent roof rises from an octagonal base crowned by small kokoshniks; the base itself also rises from a larger base formed by a series of tiered kokoshniks. Galleries reached by steps at various levels surround the church. In the eastern altar part of the gallery, facing the Moscow River, there is a “royal pew” in the form of a throne with a white-stone ciborium above it . Because of this specific construction, the walls are 2.5 to 3 metres thick, making the interior very small, although the 41-metre high ceilings create a feeling of spaciousness.

The church is of great importance for town planning, dominates the surrounding architectural structures and landscape, and provides visual unity to all the elements of the estate. The Church of the Ascension is unsurpassed in its marvellous beauty and elegance of form and was built in spite of the strict canons of ecclesiastical architecture in the 16th century. Its one-pillar construction differed from the usual five-domed structure on four pillars, making it more like a memorial sculpture with architectural features that incorporated the best of the Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Gothic and ancient Russian traditions. The example of the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye then became widespread all over the country until the middle of the 17th century.The tent-like style was important and decisive for Russian architecture, as it later became the embodiment of the Russian national architectural tradition…

That’s not the only thing to see here though; it’s just the centerpiece of the 390 hectare

Kolomenskoye Historical and Architectural Museum and Reserve

Kolomenskoye Estate

and we thoroughly recommend that one should plan at least a half day to wander around and see everything, there’s all sorts of interesting nuggets to visit.

Like, for instance, St George the Victorious Church here:

St George the Victorious Church


The wooden church named after great martyr St. George the Victorious was built in the North of Russia, on the bank of the shallow Yorga River, right tributary of the full-flowing Northern Dvina Riverin its upper reaches.

The wooden St. George the Victorious Church transported from the village of Semenovskoy ein Arkhangelsk region is one of the multi-storeyed churches typical of the XVII and XVIII centuries. It is a two-storeyed building made of pine logs with the main tetragon log structure built over a high ground floor that was used for household needs…

Here’s another page that lists some of those highlights.

This time though, given as how it was cold and snowy and everything’s closed up for the winter and all, we decided that we’d give ourselves a tick for the whirlwind photo ops this time, and put Kolomenskoye Park on the list for a languid revisit on some nice summer evening we’re at loose ends in Moscow!


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  1. […] on our Moscow road trip after the Church of the Ascension, heading northwest on the Yaroslavl highway brings us in short order to Sergiyev Posad, notable for […]

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