History of Kazan Church in Minsk


History of Kazan Church in Minsk

The history of the Minsk Railway Orthodox Church is connected with the construction of the Libau-Romny and Moscow-Brest railways which passed through Minsk in the 70s of the 19th century.

The railways passed through in the western direction from the historical centre outside Minsk. This part of the city began to develop intensively. Small and compact settlements, where employees and workers of the railways lived, appeared there.

There were two railway stations in Minsk at that time, namely Vilensky and Moscow.

By the way, vulica Maskoŭskaja got its name thanks to the latter one.

Basically, the inhabitants of these villages were of Orthodox faith, so soon the question arose about creating an independent parish and building a new Orthodox church for the townspeople.

Vladimir Denisov, Chief Archivist of the National Historical Archives of Belarus:
The Synod decree was issued in 1889 which permitted construction of a small wooden church. Simultaneously, the Minsk city authorities allocated a plot of land at the intersection of two historical streets: Zakharievskaya and Novo-Moskovskaya, or the ancient Koidanovsky Trakt. These streets were connected in the area of the modern Myasnikov Square.

In 1890, a small wooden church was consecrated there in the name of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. This church was reconstructed several times. At first it was small in size and had a rectangular plan, but by the early 20th century, due to expansion and additional outbuildings, it received a cross-shaped plan with a small wooden dome in the center.

In this form, the Kazan Church existed until the beginning of the 20th century, and then the idea to create a large stone church arose. The process of designing and searching for money was delayed, so the final draft of the new church was approved only in 1909. At that time, permission for the construction of the church was received.

Minsk residents called this church Yellow, because its walls were made of yellow brick.

The church had a very original and expressive architectural style.

Motifs of ancient Byzantine churches were used during its design. The influence of Bulgarian architecture and those Orthodox churches that were on the territory of the former Byzantine Empire was also felt. Specialists called this style pseudo-Byzantine or neo-Byzantine.

Vladimir Denisov:
All funds for the construction of the church were collected from the railway employees. In addition, there were large donations from the very administration of the Libau-Romny Railway. A special construction committee was created under whose leadership the erection of this church was conducted. The interiors of the new church had rich decor.

On special request, new copper bells were cast whose ringing was heard several kilometres away from the modern Myasnikov Square. The church was damaged neither during the years of the First World War when German aviation bombarded the Minsk railway station, nor during the Civil War.

Unfortunately, the fate of the Kazan Church during the Soviet era was tragic. Some publications have been preserved in the newspaper Zvezda which wrote about the meeting of workers and employees of the Belarusian Railway.

They demanded from the government of the BSSR to close the shrine and transfer it to the railway club.

The decision of Minsk city authorities was made literally in a month. Moreover, the bells from the Kazan church, as they wrote in the newspaper, were recast.

In 1930, the gold-plated crosses which adorned the dome of the church were removed and replaced by the red flag. In 1936, during the "Godless Five-Year Plan" it was decided to destroy this original monument of architecture of the beginning of the 20th century.

Vladimir Denisov:
At that time, three big churches were destroyed in Minsk: the so-called Yellow Railway Church. The main Orthodox Church in Minsk is the Peter and Paul Cathedral which was located in the center of Liberty Square.

And the Alexander Nevsky chapel which was located on the territory of the modern Alexander Square.

These churches have such a tragic history.