CHURCHES AND ICONS
28th September - 11th October 2017
In association with ETR, Lausanne, Switzerland
Itinerary for the Temple Gallery’s visit to Russia incorporating Moscow, Sergiev Posad, Suzdal, Vladimir, St Petersburg, Novgorod and Pskov.
for further information and to reserve a place please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
thursday 28th September
We leave from London Airport (Heathrow) on British Airways (BA233) at 08:45 and arrive at Moscow DME at 14:35. After customs and immigration we meet our guide and transfer by bus to our hotel. Note. Accommodation will be in 3 star level hotels or higher. Except for the night sleeper from Moscow to St Petersburg transportation throughout the trip is by private luxury bus with our own driver and English speaking guide. In Moscow, where traffic circulation is notoriously bad, we will in certain instances find it quicker to make short trips by Metro. This in itself is an adventure: dating from the 1930s the stations were designed to bring palatial grandeur, hitherto the preserve of the aristocracy, to the people.
friday 29th september
We begin at the Kremlin, the city’s fortified citadel developed by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki in 1156, destroyed by the Mongols and rebuilt by Ivan III (Ivan the Great) in the 15th century with Italian architectural influence. It has always been the seat of Russia’s might and power. In Cathedral Square we visit the Assumption Cathedral where Metropolitans of Moscow and all the Russias, Tsars and Emperors were crowned. Adjacent is the Annunciation Cathedral, completed in 1489, its iconostasis is by the 15th century Constantinopolitan master Theophanes the Greek. On the other side of the square the Cathedral of Archangel Michael with its icon by Andrei Rublyov.
In the afternoon we make our way to the Tretyakov Gallery where we concentrate on the icon collection that includes many of the greatest examples from the 12th to the 16th century such as the Zvenigorod Deesis of Rublyov and his monumental Deesis tier icons from Vladimir. We also see the Virgin of Vladimir housed in a separate chapel consecrated within the gallery. It is also worth looking at the 19th century painters; Levitan, Aivazovsky, Korovin, Nestorov, Shishkin and Vasnetsov, pictures that every Russian school child knows from the age of 5 onwards. These paintings introduce us to the heart of Russian national consciousness and open the same vision of the world that we already know from Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy.
Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed and the Kremlin
Andronikov Monastery (Rublyov Museum)
Virgin of Vladimir
Detail of Rublyov’s Trinity
Monumental Rublyov icons
SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER
Morning visit to the State History Museum after which we visit St. Basil’s Cathedral, its maze-like interior consists of numerous chapels, some with magnificent 16th century iconostases. In the afternoon we see beautiful icons in the Rublyov Museum, a place of great charm, it was formerly the Andronikov Monastery where Rublyov was a monk. It features prominently in Tarkovsky’s 1966 film Andrei Rublyov, considered by many critics to be the best art-house film ever. The frescoes in the Cathedral, built in 1425, and itself an architectural masterpiece, are attributed to him.
sunday 1st october
In the morning we visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour where we can hear the liturgy. The original was built by Alexander I as a thanksgiving after the defeat of Napoleon in 1812. Stalin destroyed it in 1931, replacing it with a swimming pool. The foundation stone for its rebuilding was laid on 7 January 1995 and now, once again, it dominates the Moscow skyline. A number of icons in the Treasury, located in the crypt, were acquired from the Temple Gallery.
Nearby is the Pushkin Museum (now in two sections), housing masterpieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, Fayum portraits and important Byzantine icons including the famous 14th century Twelve Apostles.
Afternoon visit to the New Maiden’s Monastery, ‘Novodevichy,’ now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was founded in 1524 by Prince Vasili III.
Pushkin Museum, Ancient Egyptian cloth with Anubis accepting the Soul of the Departed
monday 2nd october
We leave Moscow for Sergiev Posad (about an hour’s drive), whose fame derives from the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergei of Radonezh. Sergiev is the holiest of Russia’s sacred sites, its most important pilgrimage centre and the home of an important seminary. An exquisite 14th century church houses the relics of Saint Sergius and we remember that Rublyov’s famous Trinity icon, dedicated to Sergei, was originally here. One can join the pilgrims in venerating the saint’s relics and singing the simple phrases of the ceaseless requiem and thus find oneself resonating with the heart of Holy Russia.
Sergei was a monk in the 14th century whose intense spirituality lies at the heart of the religious mysticism that Russia inherited from Constantinople and Mount Athos. He is generally regarded as Russia’s greatest saint. The intensity of his inner life, corresponding to the hesychast traditions of the desert and Mount Athos attracted numerous followers to his hermitage in the forest. He was canonized in 1422, when work began on the construction of the Trinity Cathedral. Since then, and today, this loca sancta has always been a centre of spirituality and devotion. The iconostasis in this chapel is by Andrei Rublyov and his companion Daniil Chorny.
In the late afternoon we board our coach and drive for about three hours to Suzdal for dinner and our hotel.
Trinity Cathedral, Sergiev Posad. The 14th century church contains Sergei’s relics and an iconostasis by Rublyov
View of the monastery , Sergeiev Posad
Shrine of St Sergei; icons of Rublyov
tuesday 3rd october
Lack of industrialisation and the richness of its medieval religious tradition have preserved Suzdal as a place of exceptional beauty and appeal. The city includes two UNESCO world heritage sites: the Saviour Monastery of St Euthymius and the Kremlin with the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral. Its famous 12th century Bronze Doors are an extremely rare and important example of medieval Russian gilding, in fact the earliest known. The museum, formerly the Archbishop’s Chambers, has a collection of very good and interesting icons. Suzdal icons are notable for their subtle colours and delicacy of line, qualities later absorbed by the Moscow School. There is the Museum of Wooden Architecture, a collection of log-built churches and other wooden structures that have been brought from various villages in the Vladimir Region. Beautiful views are provided by the meadows and the river that flows through the city.
View of Suzdal (photo Hans Matschukat)
wednesday 4th october
From Suzdal to Vladimir is about an hour’s drive. On the way we visit the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl. It is famous for its ideal proportions and its situation in a beautiful landscape through which the waters of the Klyazma River quietly flow. This church, together with the cathedrals in Vladimir, represents the flowering of Russian medieval art in the golden age of high culture and great military power before its submission to the Mongol Batu Khan in 1238. These buildings are equal, if not superior to, anything produced in Romanesque Europe or the Byzantine world. Once a Grand Principality, Vladimir today is a small town with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Dmitri Cathedral is built of white limestone, and notable for its carved exterior. Nearby we find the five-domed Cathedral of the Assumption, built in 1158. The 15th century frescoes are by Andrei Rublyov and Daniil Chorny.
After lunch we visit the local museum to see Rublyov’s copy of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
We return to Moscow in time for dinner before taking the night sleeper (two-berth couchettes) to St. Petersburg leaving shortly before midnight.
Dormition Cathedral, 12th century, contains frescoes by Andrei Rublyov
Pokrov Church, 12th century
thursday 5th october
Arriving in St. Petersburg we go directly to our hotel for breakfast and, if needed, a rest. We then visit the Russian Museum (once the Mikhailovsky Palace) which houses some of Russia’s most important icons. There is also a vast collection of 18th and 19th century Russian paintings, the masterpieces of which we will view selectively: Bryullov, Repin, Levitan, Makovsky, Serov, et al. After lunch our bus will be available to take us to some of the main sights or we can independently stroll freely in this romantic city – perhaps along the Fontanka Canal and – for readers of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment – the Griboyedov Canal.
Neva palaces and St Isaak’s Cathedral Museum
Church of the Spilt Blood
friday 6th october
Today the main event is the Hermitage. We can begin with the great staterooms, have lunch (in the museum’s restaurant) then see Italian Renaissance art – Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, Rafael, Titian, Michelangelo – they are all there; Flemish and Dutch painting (there are twelve Rembrandts). There is also an important department of Byzantine Art. There are famous paintings by Matisse and Picasso and if we still have energy there are important examples of Greek, Roman and Egyptian art.
The Jordan staircase
Leonard da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
saturday 7th october
Early departure for Novgorod, (approximately three and a half hour’s drive). Novgorod the Great is the grandest of Russia’s medieval cities, a World Heritage site and marvellously rich in architecture and icons. For Byzantinists the frescoes of Theophanes the Greek (Fiofan Grek) are the only surviving wall paintings of this great master who reputedly decorated forty churches in Constantinople.
We begin at the Detinets, or the Kremlin, and the St Sofia Cathedral, the oldest church in Russia, consecrated in 1050. It contains the miraculous icon of the Mother of God of the Sign which saved the city from Suzdalian attack in 1169 (the event is illustrated in a famous 15th century icon).
The icons in the Museum of History and Art are extremely important. Also, they are beautifully exhibited.
Sofia Cathedral, 12th century
Icon of Boris and Gleb
sunday 8th october
Visit to Yuriev Monastery where we may be able to hear the liturgy. The Yurievsky is one of Russia’s oldest monastic foundations. The largest in Novgorod, it played an important role in the ecclesiastic, political and cultural life of the city.
We can then go to the nearby Museum of Wooden Architecture, an open air museum with churches from as early as 1531.
After lunch we travel to Pskov, a four-hour drive, arriving in time for dinner.
monday 9th october
Pskov was a great principality with affiliations to Novgorod in the 13th and 14th centuries. Much of Pskovian architecture is preserved: the citadel (or kremlin) and Trinity Cathedral date from 1138.
In the afternoon we see the Mirozhsky Monastery, famous for its 12th-century frescoes. Nearby there are many charming, small 15th and 16th century churches.
tuesday 10th october
Still in Pskov we visit the Pogankin Palace, now a museum with important icons of the Pskov School. Icons of the Pskov School can be distinguished by large colour masses and the prevalence of fiery orange-red and a deep “Pskovian” olive green giving the art a sombre and intense emotional quality.
Then by bus to St Petersburg, a four hour journey, arriving in time for dinner.
wednesday 11th october
Breakfast and 12:30 transfer to St. Petersburg International Airport (LED) for our British Airways (BA879) flight leaving at 15:50 and arriving in London (LHR) at 17:25.