Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos (Old Believers)

Address:
Vladimir, Bolshaya Moskovskaya (Big Moscow) street, 106a
GPS:
56.13364516, 40.42295369

The Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos ("Bogoroditskaya" in Russian – the Church of the Theotokos) is located on the site, where still under Andrey Bogolyubsky in the 12th century the Assumption Monastery was founded. The convent existed until 1725, when due to lack of funds for maintenance it was abolished, and a half dozen nuns were transferred to the Princess Assumption monastery.

The graceful monastery church of the Assumption of the Theotokos was built on the site of its wooden predecessor in 1644-1649, at the expense of the townsmen Denisovs, Obrosimovs and Somovs. It is evidenced by the inscription on a white stone at the entrance, on the western wall of the church. Located on the high edge of the city, the beautiful five-domed church of the Assumption of the Theotokos (Church of the Theotokos) was visible from behind the Klyazma River and perfectly fit into the general ensemble of Vladimir temples.  

The appearance of the temple embodied the skill of Russian architects of the 17th century. The walls of the quadrangle are divided by wide pilaster-strips into three parts and girded with horizontal strips of the cornice. Intricate completion gives splendor and aspiration to the temple: two tiers of large keeled kokoshniks pass into a series of diminishing kokoshniks, located around five tall, close to each other drums with onion heads. The elegance of this design is reinforced by arcature-columnar belts and carved cornices of deaf drums. The volume of completion of the temple echoes with the perspective platbands of windows, the central one of which is crowned with a kokoshnik on each wall.

The refectory with the bell-tower at the end adjoins to the quadrangle of the church. The composition of the bell-tower is unusual and exquisite: the lower quadrangle, cut by wide arches, was used to construct the first tier of the ringing; above it is a low octagon – the second tier of the ringing, the narrow arches of which end with keeled kokoshniks. The marquee is decorated with elongated windows-rumors with elegant platbands and ends with a small bulbous cupola. From the north and west sides, the temple is surrounded by an open arcade of the parvis with a high elegant porch overlooking the main street.  

Judging by the old accounts of the temple, its interior was just as elegant as its appearance. The walls of the temple from the inside and the walls of the parvis were covered with colored murals. ​​The so-called "lean candles" from the church of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which are kept in the Vladimir Historical Museum, give an idea about the decoration of the interior. These are hollow ("lean") inside wax cylinders (candlesticks), decorated with colored ornaments, standing on  white stone  pedestals. On top the candlestick has two gilded discs with nests for candles.

In 1754, a seminary was opened in the abolished nunnery. The Church of the Theotokos became a seminary temple, its abbot was the rector of the seminary, and the seminary board managed the revenues.

In 1923 the Church of the Theotokos was included in the list of historical churches registered, which saved it from destruction. But its point of interest – the bell of 1650, on which the names of the "sponsors" of the church were knocked out, was lost in the late 1920s during the destruction of the bells.

The church was restored in 1961 by A.V. and I.A. Stoletovs. In the 1970s, the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve (VSMR) received the Church of the Theotokos for operational management. Communications have been brought in, a temperature regime has been set up for keeping museum funds in the church.

In the early 1990's, the Church of the Assumption of the Theotokos was transferred to the Old Believer community. The fact is, that back in the early 20th century, the Old Believer Trinity Church near the Golden Gate was built in Vladimir. But the Old Believers of Vladimir could not regain it, since in 1976 the Museum of Crystal was organized in it. Therefore VSMR achieved the consent of the Old Believers to accept another temple – the church of the Theotokos, thus concluding with them an important compromise. In 1995 the church was re-consecrated. However, until now the church of the Theotokos is in a deplorable state, with peeling facades and drums covered with old building forests.

Author: V. Korolkova