New Jerusalem, a Russian replica of the Holy Land

Victoria Derzhavina | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you go 40 km to the north-west from Moscow, you will find yourself in a small town called Istra. The main landmark here is the Resurrection Monastery, created in the 17th century as a Russian replica of the Holy Land and called New Jerusalem. It is not only a holy place for the Christian pilgrims, but it is also historically interesting and aesthetically beautiful. Visiting New Jerusalem in Moscow Region, you can do the same things that the pilgrims usually do in Israel: bathe in the Jordan River, walk around the Garden of Gethsemane, climb up the Mount Tabor, enter the Resurrection Cathedral, which is a replica of Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Photo © credits to Landskneh

Patriarch Nikon’s dream

The Resurrection Monastery was founded by Patriarch Nikon in 1656. At that time, the Holy Land was occupied by the Ottoman Empire and visiting it was dangerous. Nikon had a dream to create the Russian Palestine. The landscape near Istra reminded that of Palestine, and the hills, parks and river were renamed according to the Bible. The cypress model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre brought by Jerusalem Patriarch Paisius served as an example during the construction process.

Photo © credits to

Replicated Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Entering through the gate of the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem Church, you can enjoy the astonishing view of the Resurrection Cathedral, which is the replicated Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It includes 30 aisles. You can take a guide or follow Christ’s life on your own – see the Prison of Christ, the way to Golgotha, the Altar of the Crucifixion. The Stone of Anointing, where Jesus' body is said to have been anointed before the burial, is decorated with the rose petals on Holy Friday. The Edicule in the rotunda is like a church inside the church and symbolizes the shrine over Christ’s tomb. Downstairs, there is a well with a consecrated water "Life-giving spring".

Photo © credits to Verteshina Julia. The Edicule

Traditional Russian decorations

However, the decoration of the cathedral is unique. It is a traditional Russian, and not Palestinian. The colorful tiles from the 17th century, eight meters high icons wall, rich baroque plasterworks give a festive appearance to the church.

Photo © credits to Verteshina Julia

On October 18, 1657, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich was present at the ceremony of consecration of the Resurrection Monastery, which was built as a Russian replica of the Holy Land. Seeing it from “the Mount of Olives”, he called it New Jerusalem. To get there, take a suburban train from the Rizhsky railway station (Moscow), and you'd find all the places connected to the earthly life of Christ.

Photo © credits to

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