White Square

The church in White Square in Moscow looks to me like a modernist building based on early Kiev-Novgorod-Vladimir architecture, as if influenced by a painting by Aristarkh Lentulov. Indeed, it was designed, re-designed and built in the modernist period and was consciously modeled on the 1198 Savior Church on Nereditsa Hill near Novgorod, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt as a historically-informed replica.

It is an Old Believer church neighboring a small business quarter built in the 2000s. Exiting the Belorusskaya metro station into White Square – the church is on one’s left – and looking up at the office towers, one might think of Canary Wharf or, perhaps, some part of the City of London. The business compound appropriately houses J.P. Morgan, BNP Paribas, Swedbank and Handelsbanken, as well as Big Four auditors PWC and Deloitte, consultants McKinsey, and law firms Norton Rose and K&L Gates.

The proximity is accidental of course, like the London Stock Exchange being literally next door to St. Paul’s, in Paternoster Square of all places. But it is worth mentioning that the Old Believer community was one of the major driving forces during Russia’s first capitalist transformation, from 1861-1917.

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