The former Ursuline Convent has been well-preserved, with the interior especially having almost no subsequent modifications. The current monastery complex was rebuilt from the original Renaissance building, whose remains are still partly preserved in the brickwork, after the great fire of 1709. The monastery was built in the Baroque period as a two-storied yet unfinished building complex around two central courtyards. There are still a number of vaulted rooms in the interiors. In the former refectory there is a preserved stucco ceiling with murals. In the nineteenth century, the monastery complex was extended by a further wing in today's Křivá Street.The Gothic Church of St. Catherine is the most valuable object in the monastery. It was built before 1287, together with the original Dominican Convent. Dominican nuns occupied the Convent until 1782, when they were superseded by the The Ursulines. The Dominican convent was the last of the early medieval monasteries built in the city.
The Church of St. Catherine was rebuilt in 1362, perhaps by the bishop's building works, which had previously worked on the construction of the Church of St. Maurice in Kroměříž. From this time originates the vaulting of the rectangular end of the presbytery. Some adjustments took place in late 14th and early 15th century, according to shapes of some of the window traceries. During the Renaissance, the western Gothic portal of the church was equipped with an imposing door decorated with a rich ornamental carving. The portal itself originates from around 1400. A Baroque coat of arms of Count Albert Friedrich Vetter of Lily is placed above it. The Convent church was also hit by the devastating fire in 1709. The nave had to be vaulted over with a new groin vault at that time. Another fire in 1800 destroyed the roof of the church and a new roof was built. The church interior underwent the last adjustment, a re-gothization, in the years 1848-1884. In 1987 a restoration of the facade took place, during which the original Gothic windows with stone tracery have been uncovered.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.