Kovalyovo Transfiguration Church

Veliky Novgorod, Russia

The Transfiguration Church in Kovalyovo was built around 1345. The southern annex is thought to have been designed as the burial vault of the Zhabin family. The church was notable for the frescoes created in the 14th century. During the Second World War, between 1941 and 1943, the church was destroyed. After the war, the ruins were conserved. In the 1960s, fragments of the frescoes were restored. Only 16 square metres originally survived, but the restorers (led by Alexander Grekov and Valentina Grekova) managed to retrieve about 160 square metres of frescoes from the debris. In 1970, the church was rebuilt to a design by Leonid Krasnorechyev.

The church is constructed in brick, and has one dome. It has a single apse and four square columns. This design is typical for pre-Mongol Novgorod churches. There are two auxiliary chapels of different size flanking the main building from the south and from the north. The south chapel has a set of limestone crosses inserted in the walls. The system of vault roofing features three semicircular wall gables (zakomara) which hark back to the pre-Mongol period. The pillars are square rather than circular or octagonal, as was typical for the 14th century.

The frescoes, created ca. 1380, covered the apse, the inner surface of the dome, the southern and the northern walls of the church, some of the pillars, and the interior of the western chapel. They were sponsored by Afanasy Stepanovich and his wife. The frescoes are thought to have been painted by a team of Balkan (possibly Serbian) painters. Their static and hieratic style has little in common with other Novgorodian frescoes of the period; but it shares similarities with the older Byzantine tradition. The total area of the frescoes was 450 square metres.

The interior of the dome was filled with images of the prophets. But it is the images of warrior saints that predominate. This is usually explained by the fact that in the 1370s the Grand Duchy of Moscow, with the support of other Russian states, was preparing to fight against the Golden Horde, culminating in 1380 with the Battle of Kulikovo. There is also the first Russian image of the dead Jesus Christ in the tomb.



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Founded: 1345
Category: Religious sites in Russia

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Iriska Iriska (3 years ago)
Захотелось прикоснуться к истории. Церковь впечатляет, такие вековые кирпичи, красивое обрамление Новгорода!
Mikhail D. (3 years ago)
The Church of the Savior on Kovalevo stands practically in an open field (there is a not very busy road to the Rurik settlement and the Church of the Savior on Nereditsa nearby) and these classic Central Russian landscapes make the overall picture very picturesque. The temple is built of red local limestone (shell rock) and, as befits religious buildings from the time of Novgorod independence, is one-domed and four-pillar. Like many churches of the Novgorod region, it was badly damaged during the war years (unfortunately, I will often have to mention this phrase when writing other reviews) and was actually recreated from the ruins, only fragments of frescoes have survived. Currently works as a museum (ticket price 120 rubles) ps. Apparently, in winter she lost her cross due to bad weather. I hope that they will restore it soon
Александр Маричев (4 years ago)
A magnificent monument. Ancient masters knew how to choose a place and build!
Вадим Губарев (4 years ago)
It's a shame we didn't get inside. Outwardly, the state is deplorable. Temple of the Byzantine style. When we saw, passing in the direction of the Rurik settlement, for a second it seemed that we were in Greece. Hopefully, it will be completely restored over time.
Виктория «baraSHka» Михеева (4 years ago)
The church itself is beautiful, it’s just a pity that it’s in such a terrible state. What was most upsetting was that almost all the churches in Novgorod belong to the museum...entrance is paid, 120-170 rubles per person. To get around everything, you will have to fork out money, even if it’s just the two of you. There is practically nothing to see inside; everything is in a dilapidated state (but you can donate to the restoration of the temple)
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