The Ferapontov convent is considered one of the purest examples of Russian medieval art, a reason given by UNESCO for its inscription on the World Heritage List.
The monastery was founded by Saint Ferapont in 1398 in the inhospitable Russian North, to the east from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, named after his fellow monk, Saint Kirill of Beloozero. The fame of the monastery started to spread under Kirill's disciple, Saint Martinian, who was to become a father superior of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra in 1447.
Even after Martinian's death, his monastery was protected and favoured by members of Ivan III's family. The most ancient structure, the Cathedral of Nativity of the Virgin (1490), was built in brick by the masters of Rostov. This edifice is the best preserved of three sister cathedrals erected in the 1490s in the Russian North. All the interior walls are covered with invaluable frescoes by the great medieval painter Dionisius. This is the last surviving Russian medieval church with fully painted walls.
During the 1530s, they added a treasury, a refectory, and the unique Annunciation church surmounted by a belfry. At that time the monastery enjoyed special privileges conferred upon it by Ivan the Terrible, and possessed some 60 villages in the vicinity. The tsar himself frequently visited the monastery as a pilgrim.
In the Time of Troubles, the monastery was ravaged by the Poles. During its recovery the last buildings — the tent-like church of Saint Martinian (1641), a two-tented barbican church (1650), and a bell-tower (1680) — were added to the complex. The belfry clocks (1638) are said to be the oldest in Russia.
As the monastery gradually lost its religious importance, it was being turned into a place of exile for distinguished clerics, such as the Patriarch Nikon. It was abolished by Emperor Paul in 1798, reinstituted as a convent in 1904, closed by the Bolsheviks twenty years later, and turned into a museum in 1975. The museum constitutes a part of the Russky Sever (Russian North) National Park since 1991.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.