“Rob Peter to pay Paul?”: Senior architect opposes church reconstruction at cinema’s expense

“Rob Peter to pay Paul?”: Senior architect opposes church reconstruction at cinema’s expense

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

Summer hall of Moscow Cinema will be replaced by a church.

A leading architect in Armenia has voiced his strong opposition to plans approved by the government to convert what currently is an outdoor cinema theater in downtown Yerevan into a church construction site.

Last week the Armenian government decided to approve a proposal made by the management of Moscow Cinema Ltd to alienate the territory currently occupied by its outdoor theater (18 Abovyan Street, central Yerevan) in favor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – for the purpose of building a new church on the site of St. Paul and Peter (Poghos-Petros) Church that used to stand there until the 1930s and was demolished by the Soviet regime.

“I have an impression that everything we do is only for a church to be built,” Chairman of Armenia’s Union of Architects Mkrtich Minasyan told ArmeniaNow. “Besides, the territory of the outdoor theater is very small, and years ago that church occupied the territory of the whole [of what today is] Moscow Cinema House.”

The clergy, meanwhile, take a different view of the issue. Director of the Information System at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Ter (Fr) Vahram welcomes the move by the Moscow Cinema.

“Historical justice will only be restored as a result, because the huge edifice that was destroyed under the Soviet regime must be restored one day,” Ter Vahram told ArmeniaNow.

According to him, it is yet unclear when the dismantling work will begin and what the new church will look like.

The fifth century church was one of the oldest Christian worship houses in Yerevan before it was pulled down in 1931. The church had once been ruined in a devastating earthquake in 1679, but was rebuilt later.

Moscow Cinema (Kino Moskva) was built on the ruins of St. Paul and Peter Church later in the 1930s. In subsequent decades generations of Yerevanians grew fond of the Soviet-offered architectural solution as well. The memory of the church, however, also stayed with some, mostly elder generations of the city residents, despite the Soviet efforts to consign it to oblivion.