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Novgorod Architecture / The Cathedral of St Nicholas

The Cathedral of St Nicholas

The only structure that remains of the Yaroslav's Courtyard is the Cathedral of St Nicholas. Its foundation-stone was laid by Prince Mstislav in 1113, following a successful campaign against the Tchuds, the neighbouring Ugro-Finnish tribe. Legend, however, attributes the church's foundation to Mstislav's miraculous healing by the icon of St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker.

The present-day aspect of the cathedral gives no idea of the role it used to play in the overall ensemble of the city. This is not only due to the dull-looking dwellings constructed along its northern and western sides in the 19th century. The artistic merit of the cathedral severely suffered from unfortunate distortions and the loss of original forms; there appeared a cornice and a flat roof, the four lateral drums were dismantled and the windows splayed or removed. The initial integral interior changed beyond recognition, and is now divided into two floors. Like St. Sophia in the Detinets, St. Nicholas was the centrepiece of the Market Side.