Fort Lovrijenac or St. Lawrence Fortress is located outside the western wall of the city of Dubrovnik. Famous for its plays and importance in resisting Venetian rule, it overshadows the two entrances to the city, from the sea and by land. Early in the 11th century the Venetians attempted to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik under their power, but the people of the city beat them to it. The 'Chronicles of Ragusa' reveal how the fort was built within just three months time and from then on constantly reconstructed. When the Venetian ships arrived, full of materials for the construction of the fort, they were told to return to Venice.
Lovrijenac has a triangular shape with three terraces. The thickness of the walls facing the outside reach 12 metres whereas the section of the walls facing the inside, the actual city, are only 60 centimetres thick. Two drawbridges lead to the fort and above the gate there is an inscription Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro ('Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world'). Lovrijenac's use as a stage was a recent addition to the history of the fort, and the performance of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' has become the symbol of Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
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.