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Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy (Дмитриевский собор) (Vladimir)
Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy was constructed in 1194-
97 by a Russian duke Vsevolod III the Big Nest. He dedicated his
church to a famous Christian martyr from the earlier centuries of
pagan Roman prosecutions Dmitry of Thessalonica (city in
Description of Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy of Vladimir
Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy is of modest size since it
was intended only for the royal family, but its elegant and simple
architecture makes it one of the most significant medieval Russian
churches. At the time of its construction it was part of the massive
royal palace complex. Most of original buildings were torn down due
to old age, while the church was preserved.
Construction of Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy involved
Vladimir artisans and workers as well as invited as artists from the
Balkans. Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs and Dalmatians (modern day
Croatia) aided in stone carvings on the walls of the church. It gave
the buildings its distinct Byzantine style as the Balkans were part
of the empire at the time. In the time of the low literacy, carvings
and visual representation was an effective way to tell the story
told by the Bible. Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy is so rich in this
artistic detail it is sometimes referred as a "stone poem" or a
Take a note of the Southern facade of Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy.
It is covered by carvings depicting the Ascension of Alexander the
Great to the heaven. In the depiction he holds lion cubs symbolizing
his might and bravery. Never mind that Alexander died three
centuries before Jesus Christ was even born, it is certainly a very
unusual for a Christian church to depict a pagan ruler. Apparently
Byzantine workers felt it would be necessary to depict their
national hero to the barbarian Slavic tribes.
Alexander the Great (left) and
King David surrounded by animals, birds and mysterious creatures
The inside of Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy is covered
by frescoes. The most interesting is that of the Last Judgment. It
was painted by two Greek artists in a very realistic and colorful
manner. Much of the damage to its colors were made by subsequent
"renovations" that did more damage than helped to preserve it.
Survival of Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy is nothing
shirt of miraculous. It saw invasion and looting of the Tatars in
1237 as well as subsequent invasions, civil wars and conflicts.
Residents of Vladimir often tried to seek refuge within its walls,
but the doors were knocked down and parishioners were massacred.
Surprisingly medieval walls survived these attacks. Only in 1837- 39
Cathedral of Saint Dmitriy saw any renovations projects by the order
of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I. However it accomplished very
little in the securing foundation. Instead many of the original
medieval carvings were damaged or knocked down.