Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, Tolyatti

Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God in Tolyatti (Togliatti), Russia stands on the bank of the Volga River, where travelers on passing ships can have a clear view of its blue roofs and shimmering gilded domes.

The original cathedral was built by a rich and powerful 19th-century landowner in honor of his young, ailing wife. After being officially consecrated in 1846, it remained active for nearly a century until the advent of Soviet power. When the Soviets raided the property in 1930 they removed its bells, seized the church building and forced all of its religious activities to cease. For the next several decades, a secular club and later a store operated inside the church walls, and it was only in the 1980s that Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Restoration efforts soon followed: the floor of the church was lined with marble, its iconostases returned to their proper place and the roof decorated with 5 domes. After renovations were completed in 1989, the cathedral reopened its doors to the public and reinstated regular services. The church property was gradually expanded, and today it is a whole complex consisting not only of Annunciation Church but also a refectory church, outbuildings and 10 rooms for monks.

Today, Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God in Tolyatti is an officially recognized architectural monument. Its exterior is noted for its triangular pediments, 3-D kokoshnik-shaped relief projections which jut out from under its eaves and the five domes which were originally painted blue but are now gilded. Inside, visitors can appreciate new murals which were added to the sanctuary walls in 2008 and three historic icons - Sergius of Radonezh, Holy Great Martyr Catherine and The Savior Not Made with Hands –which were salvaged by parishioners during the looting in 1930.