How churches in the Soviet Union were desecrated and repurposed
In the Soviet era, ambitious communists destroyed many houses of prayer or re-appropriated them for their own purposes. Moscow's majestic Cathedral of Christ the Savior was not the only one to undergo drastic changes.
Rising up from ruins
Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior wasn't the only church to suffer at the hands of the communists. Just as it did, some of the city's other churches were restored to their grandeur after the Soviet era.
Holy art depot
The Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachy is located near Moscow's famous Tretyakov Gallery. During Soviet times, the house of worship served the museum as a storage chamber for art works.
Screenings at the altar
For decades, this church served as the state cinema theater in Noginsk. Cupolas and relics were removed - so much so that cinema-goers could not recognize what the building was formerly used for. These days, it is easily identifiable as a house of prayer.
The sacreligeous in a sacred building
The majestic St. Isaac's Cathedral is St. Petersburg's largest church. The Soviets used it as an anti-religious museum - hanging up a 91-meter-long (299-foot) Foucault's Pendulum in the cupola.
Home to the secret police
Near the Church of the Martyr St. George the Victorious in Moscow is the Lubyanka - the headquarters of the infamous KGB. During Soviet times, the KGB used the church as a residential home - complete with newly installed kitchens, toilets and bedrooms.
Water for drinking, not baptizing
The Kazan Cathedral is located directly on the Red Square. Following its demolition in 1936, a pavilion was installed to honor the communists. Later, it was turned into a public restroom and drinking water fountain. Rebuilding of the church - one of the first to be demolished by the Soviets - began in 1990.
Moscow's Church of the Resurrection was used as a gym for workers at the nearby sausage factory. Then, in 1964, the Grabar Restoration Center opened up its workshop in the former church.
From a swimming pool to the seat of a bishopric
The Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in St. Petersburg is Russia's largest Protestant Lutheran church. The Soviets transformed it into a storage hall and, in 1962, into a swimming pool. A diving board was installed at the altar. It reopened as a church in 1992. Since 1993, it's been the bishopric seat of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Central Asia.
Political prisoners in a monastery
Andronikov Monastery of the Savior is a well-preserved monastery from the late Middle Ages. Ironically, the communists turned this into of the first concentration camps for political prisoners. Following the Soviet era, the monastery was given to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1992. The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art is located on the premises.
Armory in the church
A factory was moved into the Church of St. Nicholas during the Stalin era. Munition was produced here during World War II, and later, pins and medals.
Library without a Bible
The Cathedral of the Archangel Michael in Bronnitsy underwent a relatively mild transformation: It was used as a state book archive - but the "book of books," the Bible, surely couldn't be found there.