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The Lost Library of Ivan the Terrible (part 1)
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The Lost Library of Ivan the Terrible (part 2)


Read the first part of our article about the lost library of Ivan the Terrible.



The archivist and historian Ignaty Stelletsky conducted his search and even wrote a book about it: “Мёртвые книги в московском тайнике” (Dead books hiding in Moscow). He interviewed numerous of local residents, searching for traces of the library in decayed documents in ancient archives, and finally, незадолго до Великой Отечественной войны, как ему показалось, что-то нашёл (on the eve of WWII, he seemed to have come up with something).

The village of Dyakovo with its Church of St. John the Baptist is situated not far from Kolomenskoye. Точная дата её строительства неизвестна (the exact date of its foundation is unknown), but it is believed that it was founded by Ivan the Terrible in 1547 to honour his reign.

A local guard visited every corner of the church in his youth and discovered a secret, locked door. He asked the blacksmith of the village to give him a hand opening the door. When it was done, the two friends saw a stone staircase that led into the depths into the ground. But the two friends never dared to go down those stairs, as they found a skeleton “protecting” the way behind the door. Испугавшись мести духов, охраняющих тайну храма (fearing a revenge from the spirits guarding the secret of the church), they left the place that was later walled up during some renovation.

The story of the watchman was confirmed by some archive records that have been found and which reported that the village of Dyakovo near Kolomenskoye had been under secret underground work. Stelletsky searched the hill on which stands the Church of St. John the Baptist, and discovered slags on its slopes facing the river.

Предвкушая ценнейшие находки (anticipating the most valuable discoveries), archaeologists began excavating, но местные жители воспротивились этому (but local residents opposed to it) because of the old cemetery that was there. The only thing that could be found was a massive masonry under the temple, behind which presumably would be a vast repository.

But the war broke out at that time, and search was over. I. Stelletsky, who dedicated his life in search of Ivan the terrible's library, died in 1949, without finding it.

But in 1980, while the preparation for the Olympic games were in full swing, the trail of the secret passage under the Church of St. John the Baptist appears once more. While restoration and repair work were under way, builders came across a heavy plate leading to the secret tunnel. But the head of the project and the restorer decided to fill it with concrete чтобы оградить от мародёров и кладоискателей-любителей (to protect it from looters and treasure hunters), as they judged it an inopportune moment to start some serious archaeological excavation.

Today the Church of St. John the Baptist once again belongs to the Moscow diocese. The excavation was not conducted, and the mystery of what is behind that secret door, the thought of the fabulous library of Ivan the Terrible that might be hiding behind those walls is still part of the legend ...

Read the first part of our article about the lost library of Ivan the Terrible…