Alexander Nevsky Church, the oldest temple in Transnistria

Vladlena Martus | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Bendery Fortress is known not only for its interesting history but also as a sacred place, where people come to have spiritual rest. Some time ago, the Saint Alexander Nevsky Church was reconstructed in the city of Bendery. This temple is the oldest existing one in the whole Transnistria. Being built in 1833, the Alexander Nevsky Church is included in the ensemble of the historical military memorial complex of the Bendery Fortress. The church was consecrated the same year when it was established, in 1833, in the presence of Emperor Nicholas the First. Let's find out more about this beautiful temple and the reasons to visit it.

© Wikipedia/Ivo Kruusamägi

The place visited by famous emperors and bishops 

The Church of Alexander Nevsky is a place, that was visited by a large number of famous people of the past times. For example, in 1877, Emperor Alexander the Second came here to pray before the battles in Bulgaria. In 1916, Nicholas the Second with his family also came here, and they were met by General Brusilov. Locals have even built a huge royal pavilion near the temple for this occasion. Even in recent times, the famous bishops visited Alexander Nevsky Church. For example, Patriarch Kirill travelled here in 2013, right after the reconstruction of the temple.

©Андрей Агафонов

Stolen property and soldier's club

In the Saint Alexander Nevsky Church, as well as in the other military churches of that time, there were stored many historical artefacts ​of different wars and battles. However, these ancient treasures of the church were stolen by German and Romanian troops during World War II, more precisely in 1944. Unfortunately, almost all the property from the church's storages disappeared and still can't be found. The enemies took everything - from icons to even the simple benches. After the war, with no possibility of reconstruction, the Soviet government organised a soldier’s club in the temple's building. As a result, the church was brought to a miserable condition. By the beginning of the 21st century, there remained only walls. Nothing more.

Church's restoration 

After the awful activities, that made Alexander Nevsky Church the* most shattered temple in the whole Transnistria, in 2008, the government decided to restore** it and reopen it for the religious services. That year, on the 12th of September, the head of the Tiraspol-Dubossar Diocese, Justinian, performed the first religious service in the walls of an almost destroyed building. Initially, the temple could hold up to 600 people, and after the renovation, continues to do so. On the 29th of August in 2010, the bells of the church were consecrated, and the Saint Alexander Nevsky Church became officially proclaimed as the part of the Orthodox Church. Nowadays, the church works and welcomes anyone who wants to visit it along with the Bendery Fortress. Please note that even though the entrance is free of charge and open for everyone, visitors should dress appropriately and women should put a scarf on the head.  It's been a long way for this temple, and the walls still keep the spirit of the past hard times*. 

© Wikipedia/Loraine
© Wikipedia/Loraine

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