You enter Red Square through two huge arches with enormous steel gates – Resurrection Gates. Personally I think people are so excited to see Red Square that they hardly notice the chapel or the massive gates. I know for a fact I did that the first time when I visited Russia. It was only during our last visit that I took time to examine the gates, exterior and the road that leads to Red Square.
Why is this gate so special?
In 1535 when it was constructed it was a normal stone gate. The Kitai-Gorod stone wall was still being erected. (The Kitai-Gorod wall is the huge stone wall that protects Red Square and the Kremlin.)
In 1680 it was rebuilt. Two-headed golden eagles were added to the roofs and the Icon of Christ’s Resurrection was placed above the gate. That is where the gate got it`s name from.
In front of the gate is a small chapel that was built-in 1990. (I will write about that in a separate article).
When Stalin took over after the Revolution many sacred sites were destroyed. In 1929 the chapel was removed. The Soviets replaced it by a sculpture of a worker that was a sight for sore eyes. The icon was also removed. By 1931 the Resurrection Gates had been completely removed. The structure was still standing. Why did Stalin do this? He wanted easy passage for the tanks during the war.
A new copy of the original Iberian icon was recently made on Athos, and in 1994 Patriarch Aleksiy II blessed the foundations of a recreation of the Iberian Chapel and the Resurrection Gate. Within a year the project, under the auspices of architect Oleg Zhurin, had been completed, and the new Resurrection Gate was officially unveiled in 1996.
Many people in Russia believe that the icon has healing powers. They also believe that it protects the churches and religious residence against further demolition.
Next time when you are in Red Square stop to have a look at these magnificent gates. I could almost hear the roaring tanks, the soldiers marching, the coaches of the Tsars. A wonderful part of the Russian history.
When: May and August 2012