Church of the Intercession on the Nerl1

Jon Ayres

Moscow, Russian Federation

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The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin upon Nerl River is one of the loveliest Orthodox churches and a lyrical symbol of medieval Russia. The Intercession Church has been likened to a weeping mother.

The church is situated at the intersection of Nerl and Klyazma Rivers in Bogolyubovo, 13 km north-east of the ancient capital of Vladimir.

Commissioned by Andrew the Pious in 1165 to commemorate his slain son, the church used to be connected with Andrew’s stone castle with a gallery. The monument is built in white stone, has one dome and four columns in the interior. Its proportions are elongated on purpose to make its outline seem more slender, although this architectural solution made its interior too dark for holding divine services.

For centuries, the memorial church greeted everyone approaching the palace at Bogolyubovo. In spring, the area would be flooded, and the church appeared as if floating on water. The church itself has not been touched by later generations, although the galleries were demolished and the dome’s shape slightly changed. The walls are still covered with 12th-century carvings. In 1992, the church was inscribed on the UN World Heritage List as part of the site White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal.

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