In the footsteps of Bolgar: Assumption Cathedral in Sviyazhsk included in UNESCO List
The monument is expected to open for visitors during the year, immediately after the restoration
On the eve of the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Krakow, the Assumption Cathedral of the Holy Assumption Monastery in the town-island Sviyazhsk was included in the list of UNESCO monuments. Although the Cathedral is administered by the ROC, as soon as the restoration is finished, it will be opened for tourists.
A little of politics
As Director General of Sviyazhsk Museum-Reserve Artyom Silkin told during the online conference in Realnoe Vremya, all documents for the Assumption Cathedral have been collected and, according to experts, are made properly. There were no complaints. But the political situation around Russia was a kind of obstacle for the positive decision.
The Cathedral, which was transferred to the ROC, at the end of the nineties of the last century as part of the monastery complex, literally in the first days after the transfer was visited by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Rus, who gave a high assessment to the shrine, noting its cultural and religious significance. The second patriarchal visit was made a year ago, on 20 July, the Assumption Cathedral was visited by Patriarch Kirill.
The transfer of the Assumption Monastery was made at the initiative of then president of Tatarstan, now state adviser of the Republic Mintimer Shaimiev. He, having headed Revival Fund, ''revived'' Sviyazhsk and its holy sites, made maximum effort in order the unique monument of architecture, inside of which there are no less unique frescoes, was included in the list of UNESCO.
In the footsteps of Bolgar
Three years ago, again with the direct participation and support of Revival Fund, Bolgar was included in the list of UNESCO. Although there were many applicants during this time, the Assumption Cathedral won, becoming the 29th world heritage of UNESCO in Russia, which can be regarded as the victory of Tatarstan researchers and museum professionals on the international stage.
''The inclusion of the object in the list of UNESCO is the promotion and recognition of its special status, it is participation in international programmes, including restoration and research ones,'' commented on this event Deputy Director General of Sviyazhsk Museum-Reserve Elena Kartashova to the edition.
A thousand square metres of frescoes
The Sviyazhsk Assumption Cathedral, consecrated in honour of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin, was built in 1561, is one of the oldest Orthodox churches in the Volga region. Its alleged builders are Pskov-Novgorod craftsmen Postnik Yakovlev and Ivan Shiryai. In the 18th century, the Cathedral was decorated with a new dome in the style of Ukrainian Baroque and 12 patterned kokoshniks. The new elements did not spoil the image of the cathedral, and, in fact, since the creation it has not been modified significantly.
Perhaps, the greatest value of the Aassumption Cathedral is the murals made during the reign of Ivan IV. They cover an area of over thousand square metres. The Sviyazhsk murals are so unique and artistically valuable that they are considered world rarity. The most famous composition is ''New Testament Trinity'', located in the dome, ''The Assumption of the Virgin'' in the chancel. ''Crucified Christ on the breast of God Savaof'' in one of the vaults.
There is the mural that is unique around the world. This is ''Saint Christopher''. According to the apocryphal version, the Saint is depicted on it with horse's head. Another feature of the murals of the Assumption Cathedral — the lack of traditional composition with the image of Gehenna, in the Cathedral we can see only the plot, depicting the heavenly abode.
According to Artyom Silkin, when the murals and the Cathedral are fully restored, and it happens, perhaps, in a year, the access will open but will remain limited. If to let in the cathedral many tourists, which now exists in Sviyazhsk, it can be harmful for the murals, and in a few years, they may be lost.
Although the Assumption Cathedral is included in the current monastic complex, the museum staff work closely and with mutual understanding with Tatarstan Metropolitanate, so the service in the cathedral will also be made in special occasions.