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Unique murals discovered in church under restoration

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Unique murals discovered in church under restoration

The Annunciation Church on Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg was closed soon after the revolution and used by a military plant. The unique murals were covered with several layers of paint.

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Unique mural fragments have been discovered in the Annunciation Church on Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg during restoration. Nothing similar is to be found in any other church in St. Petersburg. Now restorers are cleaning and reinforcing the paintings.

Architecturally, the Annunciation Church resembles the Peter and Paul Cathedral. From its belfry, one can see all the main churches and cathedrals of the city. But what is really unique about the church is its interior. 

The murals discovered here are made in the grisaille technique, but not in tempera and clay, as is usually the case with grisaille, but in oil.  

The restorers did hope to find something interesting, but could not be sure as the church was badly misused in the Soviet era. It was built in the middle of the 18th century and was continuously rebuilt until the 19th century. After the revolution, no more services were held here, and in 1936 it was given to a military factory. The murals were painted over several times, ventilation shafts were made, wiring and fittings were installed.

The floor was covered with asphalt, the arches were laid with bricks, there were bathrooms, toilets and heating equipment in the center inside, Archpriest Andrey Diakonov, rector of the church, explains.

In the 90-ies, the parish community succeeded in getting the church back. It was then that the restoration started. To uncover the old murals, specialists had to remove eight to twelve layers of paint – but it was worth doing.

According to restorer Alexander Razdoburdin, the fragments discovered are now being conserved. A decision is to be taken now whether the historic murals should be restored or conserved in their present condition. 

Photo: St. Petersburg TV channel

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