St. Nicholas Garrison Church

St. Nicholas’ Garrison ChurchIn 1851-1876, a Russian Orthodox Church was built in the fortress. It was designed by a member of the Russian Academy of Arts, architect David Grimm as a domed basilica in the Byzantine style. The interior was decorated with 8 columns. Daylight came through 7 windows inside the altar area. The same number of windows was on each side wall. The majestic dome was crowned with a St. George's Cross. In the early 20th century, St. Nicholas Garrison Church was the main temple in the western region of the Russian empire, one of the most beautiful temples built in the central part of Europe. In the Polish period after signing the Treaty of Riga (18 March, 1921), the temple was rebuilt in 1924-1929 into a Roman Catholic garrison church, designed by Polish architect Julian Lisiecki.

On the eve of the war it housed the soldier's club of the 84th Infantry Regiment. During the battle in June and July, 1941 the building became an important point of defence, as it was situated at the highest point on the island, from which the entire territory of the citadel could be observed.

The interior of St. Nicholas' Church. A photo of 2005.On the morning of June 22, 1941, the Nazi assault groups broke through the Terespol gate inside the Citadel. The Nazis captured club and officers' canteen, standing empty in the centre of the citadel early in the morning. Next, the enemy divided into two groups and advanced towards the Kholm and Brest gates. In the counter-attack by Kholm gate, organized by regimental commissar Yefim Fomin, and attacks in other places, the enemy was forced to retreat back to the club and the canteen. By the end of the first day of the war, most of the assault groups were liquidated by the defenders. Some enemy's soldiers that were holding the club were liquidated by the end of the second day. The building passed from hand to hand more than once. Later, it became one of the last centres of Red Army resistance in the Citadel.

Many of the Red Army soldiers and officers fell here, defending the club.

The building was seriously damaged and was kept as a war reminder, a war memorial for several post-war decades. In the late 1960s, the exterior conservation of the building was done. The church became a part of the memorial complex.

The interior of St. Nicholas' Church. A photo of 2005.For the first time after the war, on June 22, 1991, a Lity, a short service for the dead, for the fallen soldiers was held near the temple.

In 1994 the building was returned to the Orthodox Church and here restoration works began. Since the autumn of 1995 church services have been held. In winter they were held in the lower part of the church. In 1995, the St. Nicholas temple was visited by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, where he held the service for the dead. On May 22, 1999, a new cross was sanctified and raised onto the restored dome of the church. On June 18, 2001, at the belfry of the church a bronze bell weighing 1 tonne was raised. It is one of the largest bells cast in the last 100 years in Belarus. On June 24, 2001, the altar in the upper part of the church was sanctified. In December 2003, the Government of the Ukraine presented to the church seven bells that took place in the belfry. The inscription on the largest bell reads: «In memory of the defenders of the Fatherland. Leonid Kuchma». In 2004, a seven-tiered church chandelier with icons, depicting Twelve Great Feasts, and 104 candles adorned the temple.

According to the old drawings and documents major renovation works on the exterior the temple were completed, including the restoration of the dome. The restoration works in the church are still in progress.

All photos in photogallery...