Sacred Spaces: Church of the Sign (Dubrovitsy)

Photo by MOCKBA08. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Located thirty minutes from Moscow is the small suburban town of Dubrovitsy and the Church of the Sign of the Mother of God. The Church sits on the small estate of once owned by Boyar Morozov whose daughter married Prince Golitsyn in the 1600s. The estate consists of a “palace, several outbuildings, the church and the park.”

In 1690, Prince Golitsyn commissioned a church to be built in the Baroque tradition on the estate.  It was to be erected as a testament to Tsar Peter the Great, with a gold crown topping the central tower (rather than the traditional domes typically found on Orthodox churches).  In 1698, the beautiful church was completed.  Unfortunately, the names of the architects have been lost to history, though they are believed to be Italian, so there is no one to attribute the exquisite work to.  According to some rumors, however, Prince Golitsyn hired the architects under the condition that their names never be revealed. 

Even more unfortunate was the fact that Peter the Great never blessed the church built in his honor, though he attended the consecration.  In his opinion, the Church of the Sign looked “too Catholic” with its ornate European Baroque influences.  Many prominent Russian Orthodox figures agreed with his sentiments; the church was decorated heavily with images and figures of saints and angels and abandoned the “[…] traditional features of Orthodox architecture such as the bright, multifaceted cupolas, and [used] Latin, not Cyrillic script, in its inscriptions.”

Throughout its history, the Church of the Sign of the Mother of God has been opened and closed several times.  It was also badly damaged, but thankfully restored in the 1960s. 

Tour the Church of the Sign

The video below offers a terrific view of the Church of the Sign and its surrounding area. (Click here to view directly on YouTube).

Sacred Spaces Blog Series

Want to learn more about the world’s most unique and fascinating sacred spaces? Follow the links below to other pieces from our Sacred Spaces blog series!

Basilica di San Marco (Venice) | St. Issac’s Cathedral (St. Petersburg) | Monastery of the Kiev Caves (Kiev) | St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral (St. Petersburg) | The Duomo (Florence) | The Hagia Sophia (Istanbul) | Cathedral of St. Sophia (Novgorod) | Church of Our Savior on  Spilled Blood (St. Petersburg) | The Church of the Ascension (Kolomenskoye) | St. Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow) |The Churches of Kizhi Pogost | Monastery of Panagia Elona | Smolny Cathedral (St. Petersburg) | Agios Stefanos (Syros Island) | Church of the Intercession on the Nerl | The Rock Churches of Matera | The Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Patmos) | Durham Cathedral

Main image via
The Most Beautiful Churches in Russia –
7 of the Most Spectacular Churches in Russia –
From Another World – Church of the Sign in Dubrovitsy –
Unique Baroque Church in the Dubrovitsy Estate –

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