Krutitsy courtyard is, without exaggeration, a unique corner of Moscow, truly imbued with the spirit of antiquity. Krutitsy with their ensemble of red-brick buildings of the late 17th century and a cobblestone square, buried in greenery in summer, are like the embodiment of a landscape from Polenov’s painting “Moscow Courtyard”. And it is all the more surprising that this island of peace is located in the very heart of a rumbling and seething metropolis!
In the past, an episcopal and metropolitan residence, today Krutitsy is a courtyard of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia with a functioning Assumption Cathedral, and it is also an interesting city location that has preserved the atmosphere of the past, where you can get acquainted with some pages from the history of Moscow.
Krutitsy courtyard, history
In ancient times, on the steep left bank of the Moscow River, south of the mouth of the Yauza, the princely village of Krutitsy was located. In the 13th century, by order of Daniel of Moscow, the first church was built here, consecrated in honor of the apostles Peter and Paul, around which a man’s monastery was then formed.
During the Mongol yoke, many Russian people were captured in the Golden Horde. At the suggestion of Alexander Nevsky and with the permission of Khan Berke, the Sarsk (Sarai) diocese was established for them in the Horde capital Saray-Batu. The choice of a place for her courtyard in the vicinity of Moscow at that time fell on Krutitsy, through which the path to the Horde lay.
In the middle of the 15th century, the Sarsk diocese was transferred to the courtyard, and the Krutitsa bishops became the right hand of the Moscow metropolitans and participated in solving state issues.
At the beginning of the 16th century, a temple of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos was built on Krutitsy. In 1612, after the seizure of the Kremlin by the Polish interventionists, it took over the function of the country’s main cathedral church. Here, the militias led by Minin and Pozharsky prayed before the liberation of Moscow from the invaders.
In the second half of the 17th century Krutitsy experienced its best times.
During this period, under the leadership of the architect Osip Startsev, the Assumption Cathedral, the bell tower, galleries leading to the Metropolitan Palace, and Terem were erected.
The fate of Krutitsy changed in the 18th century – after the abolition of the Patriarchate by Peter I, and then the reforms of Catherine II. Some of the buildings of the courtyard were demolished, and the rest were given to barracks and gendarme corps. The courtyard was badly damaged during the war of 1812. And Krutitsy fell into decay after the 1917 revolution – when the churches were plundered and converted into housing.
However, since the 1970s. in Krutitsy, the restoration of miraculously survived buildings began. In the early 1990s. the complex was taken over by the Russian Orthodox Church. At present, life in the Krutitsky courtyard is in full swing – restoration work continues, services have been resumed in the Assumption Church, excursions and various events are held, and even a museum has appeared.
What to see
- Shrines. Pilgrims come to Krutitsy to venerate the icons of the Mother of God of the 17th-19th centuries kept here, as well as of Panteleimon the Healer from Mount Athos.
- Museum of the Military History of Moscow. It will be of interest, first of all, to fans of medieval weapons. Here you will be asked to hold a real sword in your hands and count the rings in chain mail.
- Lapidarium. On the territory of the Kutitsa courtyard, there is a small open-air museum, where tombstones from the 15th-19th centuries are displayed. and other stone artifacts.