Photographer Focuses On Forgotten Orthodox Gems

Andrei Cherenkov, standing in front of the Kazansko-Bogoroditskaya Church in Alekseevsky Region.

Alina Khalimova

Most tourists who come to Kazan pay visits to the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin and to Raifa Monastery, scarcely aware that Tatarstan is teeming with hundreds of other forgotten temples, churches, and ancient buildings. Majestic temples made from brick. Modest wooding churches in classic, baroque, and modern styles. Most of these gems are absent from guidebooks because of their dilapidated state, a pity given how rich their histories are. Even locals who live near these buildings know little about them—the last source of these buildings’ secrets is the archives in a local library.

Over the past 10 years, Andrei Cherenkov has photographed and gathered information about more than 300 rural churches and orthodox temples, mainly in the vicinity of Elabuga, Bugulma, Almetevsk, and Bavly. These photographs have been featured in two different exhibitions, and now Cherenkov is compiling all the photographs and research into a book.

Cherenkov began this project more than a decade ago without a specific aim. “When you visit a church, it helps calm you, helps escape from the vanity of the modern world,” he explained to The Kazan Herald. “I want to make people aware of all the orthodox churches that are in horrible conditions and need restoration.” Cherenkov also claimed that these ruins provide an important window through which it is possible to discover Tatarstan’s history. As an example of this he cited a church in the village of Cheremeshiv: built with financial support of Earl Kropotkin, the church was where Vladimir Lenin’s parents Ilya and Mariya got married in 1863.

The book, which Cherenkov said will be ready soon, will gather all these facts and much more in a limited edition print.