Volokolamsk 2019

You may remember me writing about my visit to Volokolamsk in 2017, which did not leave the best impression. However, even these out of the way towns are steadily getting better, as my subsequent visit this summer would demonstrate.

Volokolamsk 2019

Some typical views driving about Volokolamsk. This is a monument to the Bus Driver.

The T-34 monument, a hallmark of small Russian towns that were heavily afflicted by the war.

This Italian restaurant (“Zotto”) opened up in front of the Volokolamsk Kremlin (covered in the old post) in late summer 2017, just a small time after my first time in Volokolamsk on coming back to Russia.

Crumbling commieblock with Wildberries screen.

Nativity of the Virgin Church

Founded in 1537, finished in 1541, at the site of a 13C monastery, where once upon a time dwelt Joseph Volotsky.

In the 1930s, as there were serving proto hierarchs Pavel Andreev, Alexander Zverev, Vladimir Smirnov, priest Dmitry Rozanov, and the novice Maria Vinogradova. All were killed in November 1937-February 1938.

Lenin Museum & Electricity Station

The Kashin Electricity Station, whose main claim to fame is that it was presented as the country’s first rural electric power station and that Lenin was present at its opening on November 14, 1920.

In reality, in the context of those times, it was all show – overall electricity production wouldn’t exceed 1916 levels until the mid-1920s.



The Great Patriotic War memorial, whose sorry stated I had noted, has been fixed.

And the ruined Znamenskaya Church to the west of the town now looks to be in the final stages of restoration.

Monument to the 28 Panfilov Heroes

Constructed in 1975 to commemorate a Red Army “last stand” against the German advance that, in actuality, turned out to have been mostly made up.

Military Museum

That same site also features a much more recent WW2 military museum in a sort of bunker place where one can play around with contemporary guns and explore the interactive displays.

Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery

St. Joseph of Volokolamsk (1439-1515) founded the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery in 1479. He was one of the main figures of Russian monasticism, along with Sergey of Radonezh (Sergiev Posad).

Like the founder of the modern Russian monastic-settler tradition, Joseph was a hardcore ascetic, who eventually founded his own monastery because he was unsatisfied with the lax rules found at other monasteries. However, he had high expectations not only of others, but himself. He personally cared for his father after he became old and feeble, inviting him to move in with him at the monastery and sharing his cell with him; his father remarked that his son looked after him like he had once looked after him as a young son. Upon Joseph’s death, he was found to be wearing 17 kg chains (verigi), and subsequent analysis of his skeleton found that this was something he practiced all his life.

However, in contrast to Sergey’s mystical approach to prayer and the role of the Church, he was also a champion of monastical land ownership, championing it against the “Non-Possessors” led by Nilus of Sora under the slogan that “the riches of the Church are the riches of the poor.” He likewise took a strong stance in support of the proto-nationalist idea of Moscow as the Third Rome and against all manner of heresies, such as the Judaizers (a sect that seems to have had much in common with later Protestantism, such as iconoclasm and a focus on individual salvation) that was then popular in Moscow and Veliky Novgorod.

The Uspensky Cathedral (1486) is the centerpiece of the monastery.

The octagonal bell tower was, from the 1490s until 1508, the single tallest construction in Russia. Since the outskirts of Moscow could be observed from it on a clear day, it was blown up by retreating Soviet troops in 1941 (see photo from 1900).

There are currently no plans, and funds, to restore it.

“Don’t take the apples without blessing.”

The brothers at the monastery grow vegetables in the monastery grounds and in greenhouses. The monastery is evidently much poorer than places such as the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow or the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad (which the ROC wants to turn into an Orthodox Vatican). However, perhaps that is to its benefit, since material poverty begets the humility that is a prerequisite for a richer spiritual life. I found the Christianity there to be more genuine than in those two other places, which – considering the teachings of its founder – is not without a certain irony.

Monastery Walls

One can take a guide (presumably Russian only) for a very reasonable sum to gain access to the walls and a detailed account of the monastery’s history.

It was besieged by (and held out against) the Poles during the Time of Troubles. Some of the cannons seized from them are still on display.

As with most other religious establishments, it was closed down during the early Soviet period, coming to host a children’s house, a school, and a cinema in the Uspensky Cathedral. It was returned to the ROC in 1989.


The monastery abuts a lake.

Receiving a revelation from God Himself… A vision of Tropical Hyperborea, lush forests blanketing the Arctic coastlands, rocket-cathedrals ascending to the heavens from inland… A vision of what once was, and of what will surely come again.

Bible Museum

The Bible Museum, the first such museum in Russia, is located on the grounds of the monastery.

This is not inappropriate, since before the age of print, the Joseph-Volotsky Monastery had the third largest repository of manuscripts in Russia after the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Veliky Novgorod and the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery.


It was founded by the Archimandrite Innokentiy (Anatoly Prosvirnin in secular life), and the first hall is dedicated to his life and works.

Amongst its exhibits, the museum features a 1902 facsimile of the Arkhangelsk Gospel of 1092, the fourth oldest Eastern Slavic manuscript.

Another exhibit has a facsimile of the Ostromir Gospel, from 1056. The book cover was stolen in 1932 for its jeweled bindings, but the thief didn’t bother with the book itself.

An original of the Ostrog Bible (1581), which belonged to Pitirim (Nechaev), the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and first hegumen of St. Joseph Monastery.

1897 Oxford Bible with translated phrase in 349 languages. There is also a Kazan 1896 edition with it in 139 languages.



We stayed at the following hotel, which was originally built to host outside visitors/pilgrims to the monastery and since the Soviet era has resumed fulfilling that role.

Church of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

Originally constructed in the late 15th century, originally financed by Boris Vasilievich – the same guy who financed the construction of the Iosef-Volokolamsk Monastery – the current stone version was built in 1825, with the bell tower added in 1849.

Did I mention that Russian churches love cats?

Women’s Monastery

This is the Skete of All Saints  of the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery. Originally, this was where all the nuns attached to the Monastery lived, and that process seems to be in the phase of revival, although as one can see from the pictures there is plenty of restoration work left to be done.

Sturmgeschütz III War Trophy

In my old post, I mentioned some trivia about the Sturmgeschütz III war trophy monument. In particular, commenter Thorfinnsson asked if it looks the same now as it did in 2011.

Well, here’s the answer. Regardless of what happened, the restoration is finished and constitutes quite the memorable landmark.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Interesting. I’ve never been there (like in 99% of Russian cities – Russia is huge). A bit too churchy for my taste.

  3. Don’t know if this is a representative sample of Russian cats, but I am surprised that they aren’t bigger and hairier, given the cold winters.

  4. Last time you noted there’s “no major heavy industrial or hi-tech enterprises and [the place is subject] to Moscow’s gravity well”. Did this change since then? Also mentioned was putrid stench from toxic waste landfill. Assuming it is no more, what happened?

  5. (1) No, that didn’t change, and why would it, Volokolamsk has just ~20k people.

    (2) It got cleaned up.

  6. Encouraging to see improvements, however gradual. In Russia an amusing trend seems to be that memorial and church restoration is consistently the beginning of better times ahead for the locality.

  7. Simpleguest says

    Beautiful wreaths shown on the very last photo.
    Quite symbolic, too. Russian tricolors and imperial coat of arms gently hugging a fallen Red Army solders monument dedicated to eleven army sappers, if I am not mistaken.
    Time to heal wounds.

  8. It looks like a nice place to chill for a bit.

  9. The Big Red Scary says

    rocket-cathedrals ascending to the heavens

    Monks in Space!

    About the cats around churches. Besides being fun for the children to play with, they are there to catch mice and rats, which would not be such a problem in the nave but really have to be kept out of the altar.

    Any progress on the Volokolamsk trash apocalypse? I haven’t heard about it in a while.

  10. Oscar Peterson says

    Um, where’s the Starbucks?

    Seriously, what the local retail scene like?

    And what was in jpg467–pic just before the Sturmgeschütz–just a typical single-family house?

  11. He likewise took a strong stance in support of the proto-nationalist idea of Moscow as the Third Rome

    “Moscow the third Rome” this not idea, but phrase from accidentally preserved in archive letters of 16 century that discovered historians in 19 century. The letter of the monk Philotheus is here https://philologist.livejournal.com/9455708.html
    since the Apocalypse will happen very soon, the Grand Duke Vasily must abandon the acquisition of worldly wealth, he must not try to take away the wealth of the Church, and it is absolutely necessary to violently fight gays-sodomites.

    There is no protonationalism in the writings of Philotheus

  12. I believe that “Children’s house” was/is Newspeak for orphanage.

  13. Nice Totalitarische-Monumentalische War Memorials, I hope the soldier figures are big enough so you don’t get Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge-Stage Prop effect …

    the Dekadent West avoids monumental sculptures nowadays but China has the know-how and is willing to export it … the MLK memorial debacle was amusing, it was supposed to be much bigger but it was then decided that a too massive Dr MLK peering down from the heights, judging the living and finding them wanting would scare the White Americucks shitless. It’s puzzling though that white marble(?) was used instead of, say, polished black granite

  14. RadicalCenter says

    I always look forward to your columns, Anatoly, and appreciate the photos and education about various Russian cities. Please keep them coming!


  16. Every coin has two sides. Germans, in their incredible stupidity, did not figure that, if Russia has too much land, the logistics would be a huge problem. They paid dearly for that mistake.

  17. AK: Thanks.

    Upon Joseph’s death, he was found to be wearing 17 kg chains (verigi), and subsequent analysis of his skeleton found that this was something he practiced all his like.

    I guess it should be:

    Upon Joseph’s death, he was found to be wearing 17 kg chains (verigi), and subsequent analysis of his skeleton found that this was something he practiced all his life.