Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Russian Orthodoxy has revived since the end of communism. Duck into any neighborhood
church, full of incense, candles, and liturgical chants. It's usually OK to visit discreetly
during services, when the priest opens the doors of the iconostasis, faces the altar, and leads
the standing congregation in chant. Dress conservatively (no shorts or bare shoulders) and
try to remain standing (though churches have a few seats for the truly pooped). Women are
encouraged, though not normally required, to cover their heads with a scarf or bandanna,
sometimes available at the entrance. Smaller churches are full of Russians morning, noon,
and night, and will give you more of a feeling for Russian religion than will church-mu-
seums such as St. Isaac's or the Church on Spilled Blood. Plus, entrance is free, though
you can leave a small donation toward renovations, or buy and light a candle. Alongside
the religious revival in Russia, many fault the church for promoting nationalism and isola-
tionist politics, and for its strenuously anti-gay stance.
▲▲ Kazan Cathedral (Казанский Собор) —This huge, functioning house of worship,
right along Nevsky Prospekt next to the Griboyedova Canal, offers an accessible Orthodox
experience (although its interior is not very typical). Reopened as a church after years as
a “Museum of Atheism,” this can't-miss-it sight has a sweeping exterior portico modeled
after St. Peter's in Rome.
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