Saint George Cathedral in Yuryev-Polsky is one of a dozen surviving white-stone churches which were built in Vladimir-Suzdal Principality in the northeastern Rus prior to the Mongol invasion. Constructed between 1230 and 1234, the cathedral was also the last of these churches to be built, completed just three years before the invasion. Unlike most of the other pre-Mongol Vladimir-Suzdal churches, the St. George Cathedral was not designated as the World Heritage site.
In 12th century, the political and cultural center of Rus slowly moved from Kiev to Vladimir. Yuryev-Polsky was founded by Yuri Dolgorukiy, prince of Rostov and Suzdal, in 1152. The name of the town derives from St. George (Russian Yuri is one of the versions of the name George). Yury Dolgorukiy also built the cathedral consecrated to St. George, which stood inside the fortress. It is presumed that the cathedral was similar to the Saint Saviour Cathedral in Pereslavl-Zalessky and to the Saint Boris and Saint Gleb Church in Kideksha, which survived to our days. Yuri's son, Andrey Bogolyubsky, moved the capital of the principality to Vladimir, and Yuryev-Polsky remained under the control of Vladimir princes until 1212.
In 1212, Yuryev-Polsky became a center of a separate principality and given to Sviatoslav, a son of Vsevolod the Big Nest. By 1230, the old cathedral was considered to be irreparable, and Prince Sviatoslav personally supervised the construction of the new Saint George Cathedral, which was completed in four years. The new cathedral was considered to be a masterpiece, and used as an example by the builders of the Assumption Cathedral, the first stone building in Moscow, in 1326. The exterior of the cathedral was covered by stone carvings. In 1252, Sviatoslav was buried in the cathedral.
In 1460s, the cathedral collapsed, which at the time was considered a national disaster. Vasili Yermolin was sent to Yuryev-Polsky to repair the building. He claimed to restore the cathedral in the original form, however, it became apparent later, that the new shape was far from the original, and some of the carvings lost their meaning. In 17th century, a tent-roof bell-tower was erected next to the cathedral, and in the beginning of 19th century, two new parts were appended to the building. In 20th century, all of them were demolished, and the cathedral stands now in the middle of a meadow, so that there are panoramic views from all sides. In Soviet times, it was turned into a museum.
The cathedral is and was originally built asymmetrically. Its main volume is a square supported by four columns in the middle. The columns are square in cross-section. The eastern side is an apse.
During the collapse in 15th century the northern wall survived the best. All other walls were partially destroyed (the southern wall suffered the most of all), and, in particular, much of the stone carving from the exterior of the cathedral was torn in pieces. Although at the time the exterior stone carving were considered to be out-of-fashion, Yermolin during the restoration works made attempts to put the stories together. In particular, he was able to put together two stones with the Holy Trinity image in the south portal. However, since there were panoramic images of the whole surface of the cathedral prior to the collapse, and many of the carved stones were destroyed, Yermolin was not able to identified all the stories, and put many stones in random order. Some of the stories were actually used for construction, and their carvings were buried inside the walls; other stones landed in neighboring farms. Some of the latter were later recovered by Pyotr Baranovsky during the Soviet times renovation. Currently, most of the original carvings have been reconstructed on paper.
The stone carvings of the St. George Cathedral combine human and animal forms, performed as reliefs, with floral ornamental motives, carried out in the fine carving techniques. This combination has been known in frescoes of Saint Boris and Saint Gleb Church in Kideksha and of the Nativity Cathedral in Suzdal, however, for the sculpture, the combination is unique for Rus. It is thought that the stone carvings were done by two groups of artists. One, consisting of 12 artists, was doing the reliefs, whereas another group of 18-24 was working on the floral ornaments.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.