Friday, October 16, 2009

Новый Иерусалим/New Jerusalem

I recently had the opportunity to visit Новый Иерусалим last weekend, and since I visited the real one (Старый Иерусалим?) earlier this year, I of course went.  So, this Patriarch Nikon (the guy in the New Believer/Old Believer/Avvakum saga) wanted a Jerusalem in Russia, so he sent researchers and this is what they came up with.  This Russian Orthodox version of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located in the town of Estra (Истра). It was destroyed a few times and the reconstructed parts reflect the popular styles of the centuries, such as using ceramics on the dome. 
It looks like most of the other Russian Orthodox churches I've been to, but the really cool part is the wall, with towers named Damascus, etc, just like the real walls around the Old City.  Unfortunately, though, Новый Иерусалим doesn't have Arab, Christian, Jewish, or Armenian quarters or markets.
The cathedral is build to replicate the sites where Christ was crucified and buried.  Apparently there was this chick named Helen (or Yelena in Russia) who was led to a place where the 3 crosses were buried.  There was a spring in the Palestine Jerusalem, but as they built a church on the site, the spring dried up.  In the Russian Jerusalem, when they dug at the location a spring began.  So, of course, that is a sign that this location is legit, right? We had the opportunity to drink the holy water from that spring, but I passed.  I've had my fill of holy water in Russia and wasn't really into taking the chance that day.
I was surprised they let us take pictures inside the church.  It was a Saturday, so services were starting and there were several wedding parties.  They kept saying that they were closing and we needed to hurry and our guide apparently insisted "But they're British!"  We hired a local woman to take us around and my friend Galena translated.  Our group of about 10 people was comprised of half Russians, 3 Americans, and an Aussie who blessed us with most delicious Anzac biscuits, one of my favorites.
They had a replica of the tomb where Christ was buried, in which you could kiss the stone where the angel sat.  You were supposed to go in one way and come out without turning your back to the shrine inside.  I totally missed that and apparently committed sacrilege, but I'm sure Jesus forgives me.  About that time I was ready to head out.  It was kind of a long tour (to me anything over 10 minutes is long) and it was about 4*C inside the church so I was pretty ready to get back after the pilgrimage. 

Now the train ride back to the retreat center is another story, probably best orally recounted...

I think I need my own travel show :-)

1 comment:

anna said...

I agree, Amy, you should have a show. I think it would be addictive for all of us travel-lovers...and Amy-lovers...who don't get enough of either these days... :) peace and love, my dear world-adventuress


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