Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Russia part 7 - Suzdal, ancient chirches of Russia

The primarily in such economically strong centers as Moscow and Tver. The earliest surviving specimen of post-Mongolian architecture in Vladimir is the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Princess Convenet dating back to the fifteenth – sixteenth centuries. Built in what was then a new material for Vladimir brick – the cathedral has a clear tripartite division of the outer walls by flat pilaster strips and three expressive apses. It is crowned by an impressive drum and a dome encircled at the bottom by a ring of pointed decorative corbels. The drum rests on a rectangular base also decorated with pointed corbels.

The rectangular main body has a barrel-vaulted roof and pointed wall terminations. Everything helps to create the tiered pyramidal composition characteristic of the architecture of that period. The gallery which surrounds the main body prepares the eye for the soaring motion of the tiered upper section. The cathedral has lancet windows, as before, but is completely devoid of the usual decoration. It is known to have been constructed on the old twelfth - thirteenth century foundations. The old form of the cruciform pillars has been preserved in the interior, but they are spaced far aDart, nearer to the walls. The interior shows a marked striving for unity and soaring motion. This is also enhanced by the arches under the dome which are higher than the side arched vaults.
The existence of the tower-like tiered roof with a high base under the dome drum and the unity of the interior organization in the last period of Vladimir-Suzdalian architecture testify to an architectural reappraisal of the cross-domed system  an* the creation of national architectural forms.

Monumental architecture did not re-appear In Suzdal until the end of the fifteenth century. It was then that the brick Bishop's Palace was erected inside the kremlin. This now forms a corner of the large seventeenth-century Archbishop's Palace, discussed below. It is possible that the older palace was decorated with terra-cotta relief tiles*- Whitewashed they were almost indistinguishable from white-stone carving. Л little later they were replaced by colored tiles. In 1559 the Church of the Annunciation was erected as part of the Bishop's Palace. It too was later incorporated into the seventeenth-century Archbishop's Palace. It stood out because of its eight-sloped roof.

Now we come to a very interesting ensemble dating back mainly to the first quarter of the sixteenth century the Convent of the Interces­sion, „Like the Princess' Convent In Vladimir, it enjoyed the special atten­tion of the Moscow princes. Solomonia Saburova, Vasily Ill's wife who did not bear him a child, was banished here and made to take the veil. The same fate befell Yevdokia Lopukhlna, Peter the Great's wife.

One of the convent's first buildings was the Holy Gate with the three-domed Oatechurch of the Annunciation, perhaps one of the finest and most original specimens of Suzdalian architecture. Inspite of its defensive role, the building is very dynamic. From the open gallery of the Gate-church and the top of its barely protruding apses, the eye slides over the barrel-vaulted roof to the dome resting on a tier of corbelled arches. The composition of gradually diminishing architectural forms combines pictur­esque freedom with classical precision. The shift to one side of the gate­way and the asymmetry of the side elements also enhance its dynamic element.

The main building of the whole ensemble is die Cathedral of the inter­cession, which served as a burial vault for the high-born nuns and a memo­rial over the spot where they were buried. Its austere splendour distin­guishes it from the Holy date which is quite different in style, although like the latter Its square body has a barrel-vaulted roof with three domes. The cathedral rests on a high ground storey with an open arcaded gallery which extends up to the apses on the north and south sides and gives the building a look of great solidarity. One is impressed by the powerful form of the central drum which makes the corner ones seem very light.

There is little decoration: only flat pilaster strips, the band of arcading and recessed portals with carved "melons" on the outside. The interior did not ,even have the traditional wall painting. The floor was paved with shining black ceramic tiles, and the only splashes of colour were provided by the iconostasis and a sumptuous recessed portal with rather unusual painting. The cathedral is linked by an eighteenth-century passageway to the tent-roofed bell-tower. The latter belongs to various periods: the upper section of the octagon with the bell tierand tent roof are seventeenth-century In form, whereas the lower octagon belongs to the earliest convent buildings of the early sixteenth century.

The austere nature of this early building is enhanced by the simple lancet windows, and the broad pilas­ter strips with semi-columns at the corners. The burial vault was here and over it a tiny chapel like the one on the fjoly Gate. The older part of the building is typical of early Russian pillar-type structures. There was originally a bell tier above It, and the chapel was called "under the bell".

Nearby is the mid-sixteenth-century refectory Church of the Conception of St Anna. The technique of using small brick for the walls and vaults is unusual, as is the decorative band of red lozenges on the cornice, which stands out against the smooth white of the walls. This decorative motif Is not found anywhere else in early Russian architecture. One may assume it was the work of the Polish masters who came on the recommendation of Vasily Ill's new relatives in connection with his marriage to Yelena Olinskaya. 

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