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Novgorod Architecture / The Church of the Holy Women

The Church of the Holy Women

Two more buildings located near the St Nicholas cathedral - the Church of the Holy Women (1508 - 1511) and the Church of St. Procopius (1529) - were erected on the sites of the wooden churches that were destroyed by the fire of 1508. They furnish a clue to the changes that took place in Novgorodian architecture after the city's unification with Moscow. It is worth mentioning that the construction of both was financed by the Moscow merchant Ivan Syrkov (the Church of the Holy Women) and his son Dmitry (St. Procopius Church). The Syrkovs were among the fairly great number of families that settled in Novgorod by order of Ivan III to replace the deported boyars and merchants suspected of anti-Moscow sentiments.

Compared with St Procopius, the Church of the Holy Women is more massive in appearance, more complex in composition, and more archaic in style. It is a four-pier structure with galleries. Its northern gallery, decorated with small pentagonal niches and tiled insets, was constructed in the 1540s while the western narthex was added in the 17th century. The interior of the church is divided into three floors, of which the two lower were used as storerooms. Three wooden porches and the double-bay belfry of the western wall lent the building particular picturesqueness. Of interest is the combination of stone and wooden parts, different in colour and form.