Monastery of Sts. Boris and Gleb in Torzhok: In memory of martyred princes

Monastery of Sts. Boris and Gleb in Torzhok: In reminiscence of martyred princes

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This text initially appeared on a brand new web site in regards to the Christian renaissance in Russia, referred to as Russian Religion. Their introductory video is at finish of this text.


In the beginning of the twentieth century the Russian chemist and photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky devised a posh course of for vivid, detailed coloration images (see field textual content under). His imaginative and prescient of images as a type of training and enlightenment was demonstrated with particular readability by his pictures of architectural monuments within the historic websites all through the Russian heartland.

As a part of his journeys within the higher Volga space in the summertime of 1910, Prokudin-Gorsky made quite a few pictures within the city of Torzhok, identified for its ensembles of neoclassical structure, A good location on the Tvertsa River simply above its confluence with the Volga made Torzhok considered one of Russia’s oldest buying and selling facilities. The city’s title derives from the phrase torg, or “commerce.”

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Monastery of Sts. Boris & Gleb. Northeast view from east financial institution of Tvertsa River. Summer season, 1910 / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky


The primary reference to the city occurred beneath the 12 months 1138, however the settlement could have existed as early because the tenth century. As an outpost of the medieval business heart of Veliky Novgorod, the city was regularly contested. The rise of Muscovite energy within the fifteenth century introduced an finish to Novgorod’s independence within the 1480s, and in 1478 Torzhok entered the domains of Moscow’s ruler Ivan III (the Nice).

A monastery named for 2 tragic figures          

The dominant characteristic within the panorama of historic Torzhok is the Monastery of Sts. Boris and Gleb, located on the excessive proper (west) financial institution of the Tvertsa River. It was the topic of a number of pictures by Prokudin-Gorsky. In accordance with church sources originating within the seventeenth century, the monastery was based in 1038 by the boyar Yefrem, who had served as equerry to Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev. In 988, Vladimir accepted Orthodox Christianity as the faith of his domains. His loss of life in 1015 unleashed an influence wrestle amongst his many sons, considered one of whom, Sviatopolk, is alleged to have ordered the homicide of three of his brothers, together with Boris and Gleb. Church accounts state that fairly than take up arms in opposition to Sviatopolk, Boris and Gleb accepted loss of life with Christ-like submission. Sviatopolk, referred to as the”Damned,” briefly dominated in Kiev however after a chronic wrestle was ousted by his brother Yaroslav (the “Sensible) in 1019. Boris and Gleb had been canonized in 1071 because the earliest martyrs of the Orthodox Church in Rus.

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Monastery of Sts. Boris & Gleb. From left: Church of the Presentation, Cathedral of Sts. Boris & Gleb, “Candle” Tower. Could 14, 2010. / William Brumfield


Impressed by Boris and Gleb, Yefrem made his approach to the realm of Torzhok and occupied himself with charitable work, finally founding the monastic group the place he lived till his loss of life in 1053. On this endeavor he was assisted by his disciple Arkady Novotorzhsky.

Initially constructed of logs, the Monastery of Sts. Boris and Gleb was ransacked by Polish forces in 1617 in the course of the Time of Troubles. By the late seventeenth century, the revived monastery had a couple of brick buildings, together with the Church of the Presentation (not too long ago restored). Within the early 18th century, work started on the Church the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, accomplished in 1717.

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Cathedral of Sts. Boris & Gleb, southeast view. Could 14, 2010. / William Brumfield


Elevated assist for the monastery occurred in the course of the second half of the 18th century in the course of the reign of Catherine the Nice. To a sure diploma, this improve was associated to better visibility from distinguished guests touring between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Assist from the imperial court docket additionally performed a major position.

Neoclassical restoration      

In 1785, work started on rebuilding the monastery’s essential church, the Cathedral of Sts. Boris and Gleb, with substantial assist from Catherine. The design was entrusted to considered one of Catherine’s most distinguished architects, Nikolai Lvov. Consecrated in 1796, the cathedral is taken into account a masterpiece of Russian neoclassicism. Lvov’s nice neoclassical church buildings intently comply with the style of the Sixteenth-century Italian grasp Palladio, whom he idolized and whose work he noticed in Italy.

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Monastery of Sts. Boris & Gleb. Bell tower & Church of the Miraculous Picture of the Savior over Holy Gate, northwest view. Left: “Candle” Tower. Summer season, 1910. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky


As seen in my pictures from 2010, the cathedral possesses a exceptional concord of proportions. The hexastyle Tuscan portico on the north and south cathedral facades is balanced by Tuscan loggia on the east and west ends. The columns are of native limestone. The pediments above every façade present a visible transition to the central dome, which rests on a sq. base with beveled corners and a big tripartite (thermal or “Palladian”) window.

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Bell tower & Church of the Miraculous Picture of the Savior over Holy Gate, southeast view. Could 14, 2010. / William Brumfield


The cathedral inside was no much less imposing, with neoclassical columns and piers rising to the central dome, all embellished in Renaissance varieties. This inside — not photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky — was broken by a long time of neglect in the course of the Soviet interval, when the monastic territory was used for many years as a jail. Restoration started when the monastery was given to the native historical past museum. The monastery now belongs to the Orthodox Church, however the massive sums wanted for a restoration of the cathedral inside are troublesome to acquire.  

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Bell tower & Church of the Miraculous Picture of the Savior over Holy Gate, east view from Tvertsa River. Could 14, 2010. / William Brumfield


Within the nineteenth century, the monastery’s wealth was mirrored within the development of the Church of the Miraculous Icon of the Savior over Holy Gate (the principle monastery entrance). In-built 1804-11, the neoclassical church is a mannequin of classical symmetry and is taken into account partly the design of Nikolai Lvov, though its development was supervised by Yakov Ananin. Fastidiously photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky, the church was topped with a excessive bell tower that’s considered one of Torzhok’s most seen landmarks. Prokudin-Gorsky took an extra {photograph} of the church’s decrease tier, with its uncommon marbling sample on the outside stucco (since misplaced, as my pictures reveal). 

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Bell tower & Church of the Miraculous Picture of the Savior over Holy Gate, decrease tier, northwest view. Left: “Candle” Tower. Summer season, 1910. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky


A closing ornamental accent is offered by the colourful “Candle,” or Library Tower, situated on the northeast nook of the monastery partitions. The tower was erected in an eclectic medieval type in the course of the Eighties, when the monastery partitions had been rebuilt by native architect Stepan Grebenshchikov. The higher a part of the tower was brightly restored within the Eighties. Regardless of the unenviable destiny of this historic monastery in the course of the twentieth century, a comparability of Prokudin-Gorsky’s pictures from 1910 with mine from 1996 and 2010 exhibits that a minimum of the outside of this grand ensemble has survived.

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Monastery of Sts. Boris & Gleb. North wall & “Candle” Tower. View east from bell tower throughout Tvertsa River. Aug. 13, 1995 / William Brumfield


Within the early twentieth century the Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky devised a posh course of for coloration images. Between 1903 and 1916 he traveled by the Russian Empire and took over 2,000 pictures with the method, which concerned three exposures on a glass plate. In August 1918, he left Russia with a big a part of his assortment of glass negatives and finally resettled in France. After his loss of life in Paris in 1944, his heirs bought his assortment to the Library of Congress. Within the early twenty first century the Library digitized the Prokudin-Gorsky Assortment and made it freely out there to the worldwide public. A lot of Russian web sites now have variations of the gathering. In 1986 the architectural historian and photographer William Brumfield organized the primary exhibit of Prokudin-Gorsky pictures on the Library of Congress. Over a interval of labor in Russia starting in 1970, Brumfield has photographed a lot of the websites visited by Prokudin-Gorsky. This collection of articles will juxtapose Prokudin-Gorsky’s views of architectural monuments with pictures taken by Brumfield a long time later. 

Learn extra:

The Medieval Fortress of Belozersk: From Prokudin-Gorsky to the current

Solovetsky Transfiguration Monastery: From Prokudin-Gorsky to the current

St. Nilus Stolobensky Monastery: Resurrecting an excellent non secular landmark

Krutitsky Courtroom: Tour into Moscow’s previous

The Terem at Astashovo: Grand dacha within the Chukhloma forests


A video introducing Russian Religion

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