A unique Orthodox church of the 12th century - the Nikolo-Dvorishchensky cathedral - is opening for visits in Veliki Novgorod (a Regional centre in the north-west of Russia).
Specialists believe the construction of this church to date from the pre-Mongolian period of Russia's history, from the years of 1113-1136. The Nikolo-Dvorishchensky church is outmatched in age only by the St. Sofia church in Novgorod, the most ancient Orthodox church in present-day Russia, laid back in the 11th century.
The Nikolo-Dvorishchensky church found itself in an emergency condition in the 1980s. After that the doors of the church, which is included by the UNESCO in the list of the objects of world cultural heritage, were closed to visitors. The church was rehabilitated from the emergency condition only in 2003.
As general director of the Novgorod museum-preserve Nikolai Grinev said, the main part of the unique church has been restored. The visitors will see, in particular, the restored frescos of the 12th century in the plinth wall part. Furthermore, they will see an exhibition devoted to the history of the study and restoration of the Nikolo-Dvorishchensky church.
The restoration work in the church will continue. As Grinev said, the restorers have to restore, in particular, the original view of the frame of the church's iconostasis and of the icons themselves.
Earth around the church will be cut off to a depth of 2 metres due to which the present-day inhabitants of Russia will see the Nikolo-Dvoriishchensky church as it was seen by their remote ancestors, the ancient Slavs.
Grinev noted that the opening of the unique Orthodox church is part of a big programme due to which all the monuments of ancient Russian architecture in Veliky Novgorod will gradually become accessible.
The Novgorod museum-preserve earlier opened the Kokui tower of the Kremlin and the St. Sofia belfry to visitors.
Presumably, the St. Paraskeva Friday church in Torg, the Peter and Paul church in Kozhevniki, and the Saviour church in Kovalevo will open this year. The museum-preserve plans to open the Saviour church in Nereditsa in 2004.
The general director of the museum said that only one Novgorod monument of ancient Russian architecture - the Good News church in Myachino, in which the restoration works will go on for a long time - will remain closed to visitors.
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