New East Digital Archive

Suburban domes: Moscow’s new Orthodox churches under construction

8 January 2015
Photography Ivan Mikhailov

In 2010 Patriarch Kirill of Moscow announced that the Russian Orthodox Church would build at least 200 new churches in the suburbs of Russia’s capital city. The plan, known as Program 200, aims to complete the churches in a maximum of ten years. Since the programme got underway in 2013, 18 new churches have been built and 18 are currently under construction. Seen by many as part of the ideological expansion of the Church, Program 200 has been the focus of many complaints from Muscovites, not only secularists or members of other religious groups, but also by some Orthodox believers. Many Russians cannot understand the desire to build more churches as they claim that most are nearly empty, even during important Orthodox celebrations. Photographer Ivan Mikhailov captured these churches in their urban context, playfully juxtaposing tall buildings and skyscrapers with them. “Temples and buildings are made of the same materials, so that they merge in the landscape into one solid monolithic look,” says Mikhailov.