Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get to New Jerusalem male monastery in Moscow region.
- Ideally get to a railway station in Moscow. I used the Tushinskaya one (RUS: ТУШИНСКАЯ), as it is very close to where I live now. You will need to get a local train going to New Jerusalem (НОВЫЙ ИЕРУСАЛИМ, ИСТРА)
- Do not use Google Maps to get there, as when I tried it, it actually sent me to the wrong New Jerusalem, 10 minutes away from me, it’s good I was told it was not the right one in advance. I actually thought you could get there by a taxi in 30 minutes. You can’t.
- Pay for the local train 100RUB to get to the station called Novoierusalimskaya, pronounciation: no-vo-ee-eh-roo-suh-leem-skaya. We are Russians, almost everything ends with “skaya” (not really) (RUS: НОВОИЕРУСАЛИМСКАЯ)
- Get on a train, take a seat and look out of the window for about 45 minutes (depending on where you are departing from, of course)
- НОВОИЕРУСАЛИМСКАЯ should be the last stop of the train. Get out and head towards the bus stop, which is located about 300 metres away from the train station.
- You can choose to either walk or take a small marshrutka (minivan which people share to get to places in Russia), the cost is RUB35 now. It is about 25 minute walk from the station, you just need to walk up a hill until you see a beautiful church domes (they are big, you won’t miss them). Find this place ↓
It looks very much like rural countryside, because it is. There are more rural places in Russia, by the way, for example in deep Siberia.
So get onto marshrutka, or walk up that road until you see the church/monastery.
The entrance is, of course, free. It is a working monastery called New Jerusalem Monastery of Resurrection. This male monastery was founded in 1656 by the Patriarch of Russia, with the help of Tsar Fyodor . It was supposed to resemble the Holy Land of Palestine.
The monastery has seen a lot in its day. It has been almost destroyed during the reign of The Empress Catherine The Great, after the main rotunda fell down in 1723 and in the fire of 1726. The restoration work started, based on the sketches by the Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli who spent his whole life working in Russia twenty-five years later. A few other Russian architects helped build the monastery.
In the 19th century and the start of the 20th century the monastery was one of the most popular pilgrimage places in Russia. In 1913 around 35000 people visited New Jerusalem, and thanks to donations, a hotel-like place was built for poor pilgrims and the like.
During the Second World War, many buildings have been destroyed. (Source: Official website. Translated from Russian). Slowly but surely the restoration works have been going well. The main building and the monastery wall have been restored in 2016. Some construction works still take place this year and will finish by Easter time, 2017.
Have a look at the wonderful work that has been already done. Or scroll down for some information on how to behave in a Russian Orthodox Church and how to find a secret baptism spot in the River Istra.
I went to the monastery during a very important Russian Orthodox Holiday called The Trinity, so you could see all the people getting blessings that day (photo below). You can also get some baptised water in one of the rooms of the church.
In the photo below you can see a woman lighting a candle to bring health and prosperity to her family (my guess). If you are in a Russian Orthodox church, you can light a candle for this reason too, only be sure to ask someone where exactly, otherwise you will put it under the wrong icon, and it would be equal to Japanese people sticking chopsticks into the rice. So, ask! You need to say: koo-da za zdarovye (RUS: куда за здоровье, which means: where to: for health) and point to a candle. You will, potentially, be stared at, and looked at in an extremely inconvenient way, be prepared to be hated. But do not despair, you will probably get the answer anyway, the regular visitors of a church (not this one) will probably judge you for not knowing where to put a candle, or just for you being a tourist and/or wearing the wrong clothes.
Generally, men are okay to walk into a church in Russia in practically any outfit imaginable. If you are a woman though…wear a skirt that is at least knee-length, a shirt that covers your shoulders, and equally important, wear a head scarf.
This monastery is quite liberal, so they let me in without the head scarf, but if you want to go to the Moscow Cathedral of Christ The Saviour, you will probably be kicked out. Of course, you always have a choice of not going into churches, but I’m sure as a tourist, it’s not a crime to walk into with your head uncovered.
The monastery walls (pictured below) are closed for visitors. They can be used only by the men serving in the monastery. Once a year, during Easter, the walls open to everybody, so come here on this one day to maybe get a different perspective for your photographs.
After you leave the monastery, turn right and right again and you will see the walls in all their beauty, and follow them to find another beautiful building and the way leading to River Istra to find a place, where people get baptised sometimes, and/or where they swim during the big holiday of Christening Sunday on a very cold winter day, with snow and ice, and all.
Don’t forget to look into these small windows for another view of the monastery on the way.
Get off the monastery hill and turn right, just follow the people who you will most definitely see there. They will be walking to the river bank.
Or if you are looking at the monastery from this point of view (look above), you need to walk left.
This church is a sign that you are on the right way.
You can step with your feet into the water (sadly no photo, but I was snapchatting a lot that day), just remember to take your shoes off, you don’t want to be wet when you go home! You can think about the nice things like peace and health and as the water has been baptised, it is considered holy, so your troubles and problems should disappear.
Have one more look at the New Jerusalem before you decide to head back to Moscow. The weather can change and it may produce very lovely looking clouds like in the photos below.
When you walk back to the station, be sure to check out the “Staraya Melnitsa” (Old Windmill) restaurant which has some lovely Russian and Armenian dishes and is extremely affordable. Check out my suggestions in my next post about it next week.
Thank you for reading.