THE CHURCH OF ST. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL, OR MENSHIKOV S TOWER was built at the beginning of the XVIII century by an outstanding architect I. Zarudny with the participation of Italian masters (including D. Trezini).
A. D. Menshikov ordered to build the church. Peter the Great's favorite wished to erect a church with a tower. It was to be higher than Ivan the Great s bell-tower. And in 1707 a six-tiered baroque tower with a golden figure of an angel on a 30 meter high steeple rose over Moscow.
Its full height was 81 meters, and that was 3 meters higher than Ivan the Great s bell-tower. A needlelike steeple was characteristic of the Dutch and Danish architecture, and it was applied in the Russian architecture for the first time.
Later on an Italian master D. Trezini used the same device when erecting the Peter and Paul Cathedral.
I. Grabar a prominent artist and a true lover and connoisseur of the Russian art considered Menshikov's Tower to be one of the greatest works of Russian architecture of all times.
Unfortunately it was not for long that the tower preserved its original appearance. One summer day in 1723 a terrible thunderstorm caused a fire. Wooden ceilings were all burnt down, and 50 bells fell, having destroyed all interiors.
At the end of the XVIII century an unknown architect reconstructed the tower only without the upper tier.
He also replaced the steeple with a sculpture. At the same time freemason's lodge used the building for its meetings. The masons changed the interiors of the church. But later on masonic symbolism was destroyed by order of metropolitan Philaret.
In 1820s the Church of St. Gabriel the Archangel was closed. After the Great Patriotic War the church was reconstructed and nowadays a coaching inn of the Antiokchiisky patriarchy occupies the building.