The first stone was laid in the foundation of the Church of the Smolensk Mother of God Icon
Today, a ceremony was held to lay the foundation stone of the Church of the Smolensk Mother of God Icon. The church will be reconstructed based on drawings and sketches made by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi who built the original church in Greater Pulkovo village in the 18th century by order of Catherine II. The church, however, was destroyed during World War II.
The remains of the ruined church and a nearby priest’s home were discovered during exploration work for the construction of ExpoForum, one of the largest congress and exhibition centers in Europe, and which is planned to open in 2014.
ExpoForum JSC, which is the company realizing this project, decided to pay tribute to the great Italian architect, who made a major contribution to St. Petersburg’s architectural appearance. It will rebuild the church based on preserved archival materials.
To implement the project, a charitable fund was set up. Besides ExpoForum, the founders of the Fund for the Reconstruction of Monuments of Christian Culture include Balt-Klin-Komplekt Ltd., and Financial-Industrial Centre Ltd. These companies are paying for the church’s reconstruction.
A survey of the remains the foundation of the church revealed that it is impossible to build a new one on the same site because of the complete loss of weight-bearing structures. In addition, the remains are much lower than the Petersburg highway, which will be renovated and expanded in 2012, and thus the church would have been recessed into the ground. Therefore it was decided to turn the remains into a museum, and to build a new church based on Quarenghi’s plans and drawings at a distance of about 50 meters. The church is designed for 350 to 400 people. The project has the approval of the St. Petersburg Orthodox Diocese, and it is realized by Yevgeny Gerasimov and Partners Ltd., and Dalpiterstroy Construction Company Ltd. The architect is Sergey Kryukov, and the general contractor is Dalpiterstroy.
The architects were charged with the task of ensuring that the church façade’s has maximum expressiveness, with its sustained elevations in late Classicist style and with sculptures, reliefs, and wall fresco paintings.
The director of the charitable foundation, Dmitry Fedorov, remarked that, "The construction of a new church is in full swing, and it will open for parishioners in 2013. But no less important, we believe it’s necessary to preserve the church’s historical remains. We have already carried out archaeological excavations and conservation work on the old foundation. "
Anatoly Erkulov, ExpoForum general director, believes that having an Orthodox church close to a super-modern convention and exhibition centre is justified and appropriate. "Building the future must be based on memory and reverence to the past. Only in this way can we be sure that the mistakes of earlier times will not be repeated. "
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