Restoration works of the Church of Zechariah and Elizabeth are nearing completion
20 May 2020
The restoration project of the church was developed in 2017. In the following years parquets and old floors were dismantled and covering structures were reinforced. Window assemblies of the dome drum were replaced with the new ones which had been recreated according to historical samples.
Saint Petersburg Committee for the State Inspection and Protection of Historic and Cultural Monuments reports that in 2020 stucco decorations of the walls and ceilings of the northern and eastern side chapels had been restored in 2020. Stucco decoration of the walls along the stairway are currently under renovation. Besides, restoration works of the Annunciation Church of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra have been started recently.
It is to be recalled that the interiors of the Church of Zachariah and Elizabeth preserved the original stucco cherub heads, palm branches and floral arrangements. Under some layers of whitening on the spandrels the restoration workers have found oil paintings on plaster. To be precise, paintings of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Apostle Jacob, St. Demitrius of Rostov, St. Ambrose of Milan, Clemens Romanus, St. Peter of Alexandria, St. Spyridon of Trimython, St. John the Almsgiver and four Moscow saints – Pyotr, Alexey, Iona and Philipp.
Original mosaic parquet created upon the drawing project of Rastrelli has survived to this day. However, experts emphasize that there was no place to see the floors designed by the famous architect. Restorers numbered five species of wood: maple, oak, ash, light and dark walnut.
The uniqueness of the Church of Zechariah and Elizabeth lies in the fact that its current image is virtually the same as it was designed by Rastrelli. Most historians are of the opinion that the decoration works of the church had been completed in 1762.
During the Soviet time, Leningrad regional committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union accommodated premises of the church. At the time, in order to arrange the archives, the premises of the church were divided by a ceiling, which hid the dome drum, 8 big windows and stucco decorations dated back to the middle of the XVIII century. The walls were whitewashed which allowed the paintings to survive to this day. The lower part of the walls was painted dark green. The special security arrangement of archives ensured the relative safety of the interiors of the church.