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Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The yellow domes of this handsome cathedral have risen from the rubble of Bolshevism at the corner of Lenina and Gagarin. Karakol’s first church services were held in a yurt on this site after the town was founded. A later stone church fell down in an earthquake in 1890 (its granite foundations are still visible).

A fine wooden cathedral and brick base was completed in 1895 to serve the spiritual needs of the new influx of Russian settlers in the town. but the Bolsheviks destroyed its five onion-domes and turned it into a club in the 1930s. Serious reconstruction only began in 1961. Services are again held here, since its formal reconsecration in 1991 and again in 1997.

Today, Batiushka (Father) Vladimir oversees the entire Issyk Kul diocese. The cathedral's greatest treasure is an icon of the Gentle Virgin Mary. During the anti-Russian uprising of 1916, the icon hung in Svetly Mys monastery. Here, it shed tears and blood whilst the monks were brutally murdered, shone with an ethereal light and repelled the bullets of rebel soldiers. Copies of the icon are said to have healing powers. Visit the church on Sundays before 10am, when the choir's chanting adds to an incense-and-candles fuelled Old Russian atmosphere.