Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Russia part 5 - Vladimir, a city with thousands of years of history

In 990, the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vladimir the Red Sun Svyatoslavovych laid on the bank Klyaz'ma wooden fortress city and gave it its name. Today, Vladimir has unique historical and architectural monuments of the XII century, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

The historic core of the city - 105 monuments of history and culture, including 41 - of federal significance. Vladimir is a popular tourist route "Golden Ring." An important place in the tourism infrastructure of the city is the State Vladimir-Suzdal Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve, which is incorporated in the State of the most valuable objects of cultural heritage of the Russian Federation.

Department of Culture and Tourism
Administration of the city of Vladimir
The film is hosted by the Cyprus Department of IOPS with the permission of the head of Vladimir S. Sakharov on the occasion of the signing of the twinning between years.

At Vsevolod's command the cathedral as It had been erected by Aud­rey Bogoliubsky was encased on three sides by new galleries. Four domes were added and the building became broader. The new age produced a new style of building - powerful edifices created by the craftsmen of Prince Vsevolod, the ruler whose warriors, according to the author of the Lay of Prince Igor's Host could "splash out the Volga with their oars and scoop out the Don with their helmets". It should be noted that these craftsmen, were now local ones, for the new prince, unlike Andrey Bogo­liubsky, did not seek "masters from foreign lands".

Let us enter the cathedral gallery and look at what used to be the outer walls of the original building A fragment of a decorative fresco dating back to 1161 has survived on the north wall. Polychrome painting provided a background for the band of arcading. The latter's arches, spac­ed far apart, rested upon small columns (originally gilded) with wedge-shaped consoles. Between the two columns is a slit-like window with indented Jambs which are also painted with frescoes. The new outer walls have a different type of decoration. True, this is an episcopal church and the ornament is fairly restrained, but the recessed portals are magnificent, the lancet windows are .plastically finished with stepped arches, and the band of arcading is most decorative.

The sculptural compositions and masks were transferred from the walls of the earlier building to the new exte­rior. The north front has the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace and lion masks, which symbolize Christ's immortality and are also the emblem of sovereign power, and female masks which indicate that the church is consecrated to the cult of the Virgin. The special care lavished on the north front Is understandable, for this was the side facing the-town, the side people saw as they approached the cathedral. The south front was seen only from a distance, so its ornament was more generalized. Contem-poraries were dazzled by the abundance of gold on the helmet-shaped dome, the brass-bound arcading of the drum, and the three  main doors.

The most impressive building belonging to the reign of Vsevolod the Great is the Cathedral of St Demetrius (1194 97), which was also the centre of the palace complex. Us clarity of composition, the stately rhythm of Us architectural forms, and its splendidly calm proportions embody the Idea of the grand prince's power and might. Unlike the episcopal church which we have Just examined, the palace church is embellished with sumptuous ornament. The centre of the composition on each of its three fronts is King Solomon, famed for his love of building. Around him яге rows of foliate ornament alternating with strange animals, monsters end horsemen. This profusion of carving makes the columns breeding look of like an ornamental band. The structural unity is not disturbed by the ornament, however. The vertical pilasters divide the walls rhythmically, subjecting all the carving to the architecture.

A further development and search for new forms in Vladlmlr-Suzd;jlian architecture took place in the first third of the thirteenth century. The building was no longer mainly in the capital, Vladimir, but in other rising centers. Although they had lost their father's might, Prince Vsevolod's heirs tried to keep up his architectural traditions. The churches of this period show a refinement of architectural forms and ornament.

The town of Suzdal, which had declined in the twelfth century, was given some fine new buildings by Prince Georgy, one of Vsevolod's sons. The Cathedral of the Dormition, built by the first prince of Suzdal, Vla­dimir Monomachus, was taken down. This austere old cathedral made of large brick no longer satisfied the tastes of the townspeople, brought up on the splendid white-stone cathedrals of the capital, Vladimir. The high ramparts round the Kremlin are all that has remained of the earliest archi­tectural period. According to the chronicle, the new Cathedral ot the Nati­vity of the Virgin was "fairer than the first". Instead of well-dressed white stone, it was made of a local, porous, yellowish tufa, against which the carved ornament of white limestone stands out particularly clearly. The cathedral has not survived in its original form, however. Two centuries later it collapsed, was dismantled down to the band of arcading and then rebuilt in brick by about 1530. This is the form in which we see it today, but even now It is obvious 4hat in the thirteenth century it differed fun­damentally from the twelfth-century Vladimir cathedrals.

Originally built without the passageway from the palace to the choir gallery, it was the first very large town cathedral. Hlongated lengthwise in plan. It possesses three narthexes. The huge choir gallery (no longer extant) accommodated not only the prince and his retinue, but also the leading townspeople. The main facade was not the west front facing the palace, but the south front, which the people passed on their way to the cathedral. The walls had more or less sumptuous ornament depending on their importance. The south wall has survived better than the others. Looking at it you can see how the decorative element in architecture was growing increasingly stronger. The pilaster strips no longer correspond to the axes of the interior pillars and are flatter than those in the Vladimir cathedrals, which were structurally filled out by semi-columns. These decorative pilas­ter strips are easily broken up by the ornamental band and the spread lions and griffins inset at the corners. The decoration of the portals is a blatant contradiction   of structural logic.   

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