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Construction of the church began in the autumn of 2004, at the initiative of Pyotr Zadirov, a parachute tester and director of the Severnoye Siyaniye hotel. The church is an exact replica of another church built by Zadirov earlier, the Holy Trinity Church, a Russian Orthodox church in Antarctica and the southernmost church in the world. The Holy Trinity Church was built on King George Island near the Bellingshausen Russian research station with the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II.

The Church of St Sergius of Radonezh was consecrated on the territory of the hotel on 3 June 2007 in a ceremony conducted by Archbishop Leo of Novgorod and Staraya Russa.

The church is located on the grounds of the Severnoye Siyaniye hotel, overlooking Lake Uzhin. A massive wooden staircase with a wooden pier connects the church on the hill with the scenic lake.

Both the Holy Trinity Church at the Bellingshausen station and the Valdai church were built of Siberian cedar wood. Cedar logs known for their durability and resistance to cold were delivered to Valdai from Altai. The wooden Church of St Sergius of Radonezh is 35 metres tall and accommodates about 30 worshippers.

Directions: From the M10 motorway, take a turn to Borovichi, then drive 6 km to the Valdaika River and turn left at the sign for the Severnoye Siyaniye hotel. Keep driving for 3 km down a very scenic forest road and keep right at road forks.

Photo: Timofei Shutov

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