The agreements were signed, the first stone was laid and the photo was taken, but what was going to be the biggest Russian Orthodox church in Spain, and the first in Andalucía, will now be built in Estepona instead of Marbella.
The council has ceded nearly 6,000 square metres of land in Arroyo Las Cañas, on the way up to the Selwo park, to the Orthodox Initiative Foundation, the same organisation which in 2013 signed an agreement with mayor of Marbella Ángeles Muñoz to build the church at Azalea Beach, next to Casa Rusia.
When asked why the church is moving from Marbella to Estepona, Father Dimitry Osipenko, the representative who signed that agreement, just said, “The situation is not easy.” Sources close to the foundation, however, claim that people living in the Azalea Beach area were opposed to the project and the council did not seem interested in progressing.
The same sources also believe local residents were afraid the church would attract members of the Russian mafia although “that is very unlikely because this is a very serious and respectful community and they didn’t even want the church to be built near any bars or discos.”
The deputy mayor of Estepona, Ana Velasco, says the Orthodox Initiative Foundation contacted the town hall about the project a year ago and the council has welcomed it because it is “of general interest” to the municipality.
The building will be used as a Russian church and social-cultural centre. The project is fairly modest, costing less than 1,130,000 euros. The one in Marbella would have cost between three and four million euros, and the foundation said it would be financed through donations.
The architects plan this to be an iconic building, with a separate belltower, constructed with Mediterranean materials.