The Volotovo Church was built in 1352 by Moisey, the archbishop of Novgorod. The church survived the Time of Troubles, when many Novgorod churches were destroyed or damaged by the Swedes. During the World War II, the church was basically at the front line between the Soviet and the German armies for three years and was destroyed. In 1955, Leonid Krasnorechyev performed conservation of the monument. The church was standing as a ruin but was not decaying further. The frescoes were destroyed as well, but the debris were still on the site, and the restorators started work on recovering fresco fragments from the debris. In 2003, the building was reconstructed, The author of the reconstruction project was Ninel Kuzmina.
The chronicles mention that in 1363 a part of the church was painted, but presumably the frescoes in rest of the interior were created later, around 1380. The whole interior of the church was covered by frescoes, which was common for that time, but almost all fully painted churches were eventually destroyed or lost the original frescoes, and so far the only intact church with the fully painted interior is preserved in the Ferapontov Monastery. The Volotovo frescoes were extensively studied, and black and white photographs of every detail, as well as coloured copies, survived and considerably simplified the restoration. In 1977, the frescoes became the subject of a book of Mikhail Alpatov.
The name of the painter is not known. For a long time, the frescoes were ascribed to Theophanes the Greek, however, it was decided later that the 1380 frescoes did not belong to Theophanes and were essentially more dynamic that all the works of Theophanes. At the time of creation, this was a novel style in Russian art.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.