The highlight of Yuriev-Polsky is undoubtedly St George's Cathedral which can only be described as a wonder of mediaeval Russian architecture. The first cathedral dedicated to St George was built in 1152 when Yuri Dolgoruky founded Yuriev-Polsky. However by 1230 this cathedral had fallen into disrepair and so Prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich of Yuriev-Polsky ordered a new cathedral be built on top of the existing foundations. This was completed in 1234. The white-stone cathedral is rather simple in form - a four-pillar single dome building with two side-chapels, a front chapel and three apses on the back.
The church's magnificence however lies in its decoration. The exterior of the church is decorated with engravings of saints, Bible stories, animals - both real and mythical - and plants and flowers. Whereas Vladimir's St Demetrius' Cathedral can also boast such engravings, there they only feature on the top part of the building, yet practically every stone on St George's Cathedral is engraved with some design. One of the most famous engravings is that of an elephant. What exactly an elephant is doing on a 13th century Russian church is a question experts have been unable to answer. It is said that if you can spot the elephant yourself you can make a wish that will be granted!
In the mid-15th century the top of the cathedral unexpectedly collapsed and in 1471 Grand Prince Ivan III sent the famous architect Vasili Yermolin to restore the cathedral. Luckily there was a shortage of stone in the region so Yarmolin was forced to reuse the original stones and, like a big jigsaw puzzle, put the engravings back as they were the best he could. The cathedral's frescos were also restored.
Today the cathedral is open for visitors as a museum as part of the Yuriev-Polsky Historical, Architectural and Art Museum, although worshipers are allowed in free of charge to pray at the giant stone Svyatoslav cross inside. The Svyatoslav cross is one of the city's main relics and dates from the reign of Svyatoslav Vsevolodoich who had it made in gratitude of being saved from drowning in the Volga in 1224. The cathedral is protected by UNESCO as part of the white-stone monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal.
|Location||1 Muzeyny Pereulok|
|Open||09:00 - 17:00 (14:30 on Mondays). Closed on Tuesdays and the last Friday of the month.|