Monastery park to be laid out in Sviyazhsk and rare landing stage to be restored

The new green zone on the island-town is going to become a place of solitude and contemplation

Monastery park to be laid out in Sviyazhsk and rare landing stage to be restored
Photo: Maksim Platonov

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, a park with an area of more than 14,3 hectares will be built on the territory of the Assumption Monastery in Sviyazhsk. This is going to be the largest green area on the island-town. The new public space, although it will be landscaped, will become a place of solitude, silence and contemplation for both the brethren of the temple and for numerous pilgrims, guests and residents of Sviyazhsk. Besides, this year trees will be planted in another park — Nightingale Grove and a rare landing stage towed here from Kazan will be restored.

On the site of the “zhiletsky” quarter

On the island-town of Sviyazhsk, works have begun on the organisation of the monastery park. Now the workers are engaged in the planning of the territory, director of the local museum-reserve Artem Silkin told our publication. The park will be laid out in the northern part of the cultural heritage site of federal significance “Ensemble of the Assumption Monastery” — between the fence, cemetery, Assumption Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church. It will occupy an area of more than 14,3 hectares, of which 11 hectares will be given over to landscaping.

As stated in the act of the state historical and cultural expertise (and it must be carried out without fail if excavation and construction works are underway on the territory of historical monuments), the park “will play the role of a monastery garden, the main features of which are privacy, contemplation, silence and utilitarianism”. Its appearance was planned back in 2018 as part of the improvement of the Assumption Monastery and aims to regenerate the historical environment.

“According to the Orthodox tradition, park spaces were often made at monasteries. And it will also be a place of solitude for the brethren, pilgrims and guests of the monastery. Since the territory of the monastery used to be five times smaller, historically there was a city block. It was called “zhiletsky”. At the end of the 19th century, when the number of inhabitants of Sviyazhsk began to decrease, the monastery square was surrounded by a wall. There was a monastery cemetery, outbuildings and vegetable gardens. There are pictures of photographer Maksim Dmitrov from Nizhny Novgorod where these vegetable gardens and trees are seen," said the director of the Sviyazhsk Island-Town Museum-Reserve.

It is unknown to Silkin whether the facility will be commissioned this year. It will depend on the funding.

Alleys in the form of a cross

Interestingly, according to the plan, the central alleys of the park form an Orthodox cross with round platforms at the intersection and “tops” of the cross. This is a characteristic feature of monastery gardens. By tradition, the monk's alley is located away from the main paths — intentionally narrow, planted with trees on both sides so that only one person can walk along it, which contributes to contemplation and immersion in oneself.

For recreation, small architectural forms will be installed — benches, urns. Sidewalks and platforms will be covered with Plaza paving stones — with and without the possibility of driving by motor transport. It is even planned to lower the concrete sides of sidewalks to 1,5 cm for the passage of sleds, trolleys, strollers and the like.

Any green zone is primarily vegetation. The park will be planted with “noble” tree species — cedars, oaks, firs, as well as shrubs — lilac, spirea, etc. Rolled lawn will be laid on the ground.

The layout of the territory of the Assumption Monastery was carried out by the team of authors of PC Grad PLC — a well-known player in the market of improvement of public spaces. The portfolio of this company includes projects of several squares in Kazan: Alley of Veterans, on Sovetskaya Square, on Akademika Parin Street; reconstruction of the Uritsky Park, the embankment of the Oshma River near the Yashlek square in Mamadysh.

Layout of the territory of the Assumption Monastery was carried out by the author's team of PC Grad PLC

Trees will not block the view of the monastery complex

The PC Grad project received a positive conclusion of the state historical and cultural expertise. Let us remind that in addition to the Assumption Cathedral, the monuments of architecture of both the federal and local levels include St. Nicholas Church, monastery school, fraternal and archimandric buildings, the fence of the monastery with the church, the vault, located on the territory where the park will be laid. In addition, works are underway in the landmark Island-town of Sviyazhsk and the identified object of cultural heritage settlement “Island-town of Sviyazhsk”, which also have a protected status.

“The design took into account the existing architectural and landscape composition of the complex of the Assumption Monastery, the aesthetic significance of the monastery in the formation of the surrounding space, the place and role of the garden in the planning structure of the monastery... Landscaping is planned taking into account the preservation of the planning structure, compositional principles inherent in the construction of the late 18th — early 20th centuries," the act of the State Historical and Cultural Expertise notes.

It also states: no construction work will be carried out on the territory of the monastery, which will ensure the physical preservation of the monuments. Even the builders' cabins will be located elsewhere, and the storage of building materials will be on an empty plot of land nearby. Workers are obliged to take the excavated soil 57 km away.

Works are underway in the landmark Island-town of Sviyazhsk and the identified object of cultural heritage settlement “Island-town of Sviyazhsk”, which also have a protected status. Photo: Maksim Platonov

The expert noted that the planned planting of trees will not block the view of the ensemble of the Assumption Cathedral, although fir trees grow to 60-80 metres, and the high-rise dominant — the bell tower of St. Nicholas Church — reaches only 43 metres. Firstly, they are located at a sufficient distance from the temples, secondly, they will grow for decades, and thirdly, the main view of the temple complex is from the side of Uspenskaya Street, from the central part of the island, he gave his arguments.

Second life of the decommissioned landing stage

The monastery garden is not the only object that will be landscaped this summer in Sviyazhsk. Artem Silkin said that the planting of trees in the Nightingale Grove Park will continue. It was laid 4 years ago behind the Ioanno-Predtechensky Monastery. The funds for this were received at the expense of a grant from Lukoil. This year, the landscaping will be funded by the museum-reserve. The Nightingale Grove became the first park on the island, its area is about 1,5 hectares.

Besides, the participants of the Tom Sawyer Fest will begin the restoration of the decommissioned wooden landing stage, which was presented to Sviyazhsk by the Kazan River Technical School. It stood for a long time in the bay of the Lokomotiv beach and was used as a training base. Last year it was towed to the island. The object is more than half a century old, but it is quite well preserved. Now the landing stage is located at the embankment of Sviyazhsk.

Participants of the Tom Sawyer Fest will start the restoration of the decommissioned wooden landing stage. Photo: Pavel Tinyaev's Facebook account* (*banned in Russia, owned by Meta Corporation, which is recognised as extremist in Russia)

It is assumed that the renovated landing stage will house a museum centre. And this once familiar attribute of the Volga landscape itself is an interesting exhibit of the bygone Khrushchev era. This rather large vessel has a waiting room, a living room for the skipper, auxiliary rooms and even such architectural “excesses” as columns with capitals.

A few years ago, the issue of securing the Volga landing stages, which have been preserved in few places, was discussed. Experts noted that they have interesting architecture, and therefore they deserve to become objects of cultural heritage. This is the only way they can be preserved for future generations.

Eleanora Rylova