Published: April 2009

Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox community

Soul of Russia

Driven underground for 75 years, the faith of the Russian tsars now enjoys favored status.

By Serge Schmemann
Photograph by Gerd Ludwig

The new Russia steadily ebbs away on the drive out of Moscow. The gridlock and pollution, the sprawling malls and billboards of the recent boom years give way to the gray suburbs and rusting factories of the Soviet era. These in turn fade into tall forests of pine and birch, punctuated by meadows and timeless villages of log houses. Now and again a whimsically painted steeple breaks the horizon, its gilded cupola glittering in the bright spring sun. We're back in the glubinka, the "deep" Russia beloved of Slavophiles, exiles, and painters. And we're headed for its very heart.

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