Suzdal - the historic city of Golden Ring of Russia
As for its general composition, the tripartite division with the main entrance in the middle and the tower on the corner was a familiar feature in Russian architecture. The first floor contains a large hall with two rows of windows and vaults which are supported by a square central pillar and the walls. This system of roofing large areas, which is found as early as the fifteenth century in the Faceted Halls in Moscow and Novgorod, was used in Russia right up to the end of the seventeenth century.
The convent is surrounded by walls which are seventeenth-century in form. A section «has been restored in the southwest corner, however, which is constructed like sixteenth-century fortified walls. It has a firing platform resting on blind arches on the inside of the walls and higher up, above the platform, is a parapet with loopholes.
On the opposite bank of the Kamenka, the Monastery of the Saviour was founded (fourteenth century), almost at the same time as the Convent of the Intercession. It later became called the Euthymus Monastery of the Saviour after its first abbot. Both convent and monastery acted as fortresses defending Suzdal from the north. None of the monastery's original buildings have survived. It was well endowed and therefore constantly expanding and being rebuilt.
The oldest stone building is the small church over the grave of Abbot Euthymus, which belongs to the first decade of the sixteenth century. Later, at the very end of that century, it became the south chapel of the huge, five-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Its outer walls were painted with frescoes in the seventeenth century. The architecture of the large cathedral is traditional in form, but has lost its full-bloodedness. The details are badly proportioned and rather Insipid, such as the frieze of blind arcading and the recessed portals. The interior is spacious and cold. The adoption of Vladimir-Suzdalian features in the official forms of Moscow architecture became very pronounced during the growing centralization ot the state of Muscovy.
The refectory Church of the Dormition belongs to the monastery's early building period (1525). It was built according to the type of tent-roofed churches which were characteristic of sixteenth-century architecture. The central (and now the sole) tent-shaped spire is In a line with the central apse and rests on a short octagon which is supported by the corbelled arches of the main octagon. The two smaller spires (no longer extant) stood over the side apses, producing a pyramidal composition. The three tent-shaped spires of the Church of the Dormition can be regarded as an echo of the three domes, so popular in Suzdal, but reinterpreted through the Images of wooden and fortification architecture. One may assume that it was the predecessor of the splendid Divnaya Church in Uglich built a century later.
The tent-shaped spires of the Gate-church and the bell-tower echoed, as it were, that of the refectory church. As In the Convent of the Intercession, the nine-sided bell-tower belonged to the pillar-type of church “under the bell”, and probably also dated back to the first decade of the sixteenth century. The decoration was simple: on the lower tier, or socle, there were inset decorative corbels, and in the second tier, containing the tiny church built in thanksgiving for the birth of Ivan IV, the slit-like embrasures of the windows alternated with broad surrounds in the form of portals. A third storey consisting of the bell tier with flat arches was topped by two tent-shaped spires.
During the sixteenth — seventeenth centuries a bell-tower (of the Pskov-Ian type) in the form of an arcade with three arches was added to the main pillar. Although they belong to different periods, the sections form a single whole: they are moulded together by the wall decoration of niches, balusters and Intertwined decorative corbels. In between the pillar and the arcade is a clock tower with the traditional tent-shaped spire.
It is probable that the tent-roofed bell-towers of the neighbouring convent and monastery foreshadowed the appearance in 1530 of one of the greatest achievements of Russian architecture, the Church of the Ascension in the village of Kolomenskoye.
The Gate-church, balanced on the east and west by apses and a parvis, also had two tent-shaped spires formerly. Thus, the tent-shaped spires on the pyramidal structures united all the monastery and convent buildings and the wall towers into a single ensemble.
The monastery's buildings are protected by magnificent walls dating back to the second half of the seventeenth century with twelve towers, either polygonal, rectangular or circular. They have the decoration typical of that time. The gate-tower stands out In particular. Its rectangular body and tent roof reach a height of twenty-two meters placed almost in the centre of the facade. It is flanked by polygonal corner towers which emphasize its importance.
The Convent of the Deposition of the Robe was founded just outside the posad, the town's artisan quarter, in the thirteenth century. Along its walls ran a moat called the Netloka (that which does not flow) protecting the town on the north. The convent's first stone building was begun in the sixteenth century. The cathedral which belongs to this period is quite small and stands out because of Its simple interior and the three domes characteristic of sixteenth-century Suzdal. Inside is a pillar-less domed vault — this is one of the earliest specimens of pillar-less churches.