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Domes over Havana

 Domes over Havana

In 1998, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill (the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in nowadays) visited Cuba. After his talks with the republic leaders the agreement on the resumption of the Russian Orthodox parish in Cuba, which existed before the 1970s, was obtained. However, there was a law in the country prohibiting the registration of new religious groups. It took several years to address all the necessary issues, and in 2001 the Cuban authorities have given permission for half-year stay of a Russian Orthodox priest in the country. The first regular divine services were held in the Russian trade mission.

The idea of an Orthodox church building in the capital of revolutionary Cuba appeared in 2004, and then has been agreed with the local authorities. Chief historian of Havana, Dr. Eusebio Leal, allocated a land for the church in the historic part of the city. The project implementation was accelerated after a meeting of Metropolitan Kirill and the state leader Fidel Castro, who promised personally "to be a commissioner of this building".

November 14, 2004, in the heart of Old Havana, in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi the Metropolitan Kirill made first Slavic liturgy, after which held a procession to the place of construction of an Orthodox church together with people. Two state flags – of Russia and of Cuba – were carried after the cross and gonfalons. After the prayer service, the Metropolitan Kirill has put solemnly a capsule with a letter into the foundation of the future church.

The first liturgies had been commenced in the church building still unfinished, and October 19, 2008 in Havana the rite of the great consecration of a church in honor of Our Lady of Kazan was performed. The solemn service was held in the context of the Days of Russia in Latin America. It was begun with the peal and the singing of the church choir. Sanctification was made by Metropolitan Kirill with a host of hierarchs and pastors who came from Russia. In prayerful memory the Metropolitan Kirill gave to the Kazan parish the icon of the Resurrection.

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The Russian Orthodox temple, located in one of the most reserved blocks of the historic center of Old Havana, on the beautiful bay beech, despite height restrictions dictated by the local planning regulations, has become one of the dominants of a block. The temple fits in the historical part of the capital silhouette and is easily visible from several points, especially from the side of Havana Bay. The author of the project was the Moscow church architect Alexei Vorontsov, who worked closely with Cuban partners. The Kazan temple has five domes and a belfry in 17th century style, and it’s built in the tradition of ancient architecture. A church was built by ordinary Cuban workers.

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