St. Mark's Church (Markuskirche) near the Klaus Gate at the foot of the Mönchsberg is a masterpiece of baroque architecture: the cornerstone for the Ursuline Convent church was laid in 1699. A smaller church located on the same site was destroyed by a disastrous rockfall from the Mönchsberg thirty years before. At the time of its construction, raising a building on the small strip of land between the Mönchsberg and the precipitous banks of the Salzach was a masterly performance.
Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun called on the renowned architect, Fischer von Erlach, who was also commissioned to design other churches in Salzburg. The church was consecrated in 1705 but the construction of the convent took another two decades. It served as the seat for the Ursuline Order until 1957. Today the former St. Ursuline Church, consecrated to St. Mark the Evangelist, is known by its original name again.
Three saints adorn the church's pediment: St. Mark the Evangelist in the center with St. Augustine and St. Ursula on either side. Visitors are usually stunned by the unexpected richness of the church's interior: elaborate stucco, colorful frescoes by the Tyrolean painter, Christoph Anton Mayr, and the cupola with portrayals of St. Ursula in heaven. The saints on the façade can also be found inside the church. The altar furniture and pews are embellished with fine woodcarving.References:
The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.
The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.
In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.