Trinity Cathedral. Evening view    Kostroma is as old as Moscow. Located on the left bank of the Volga River, it abounds in magnificent monuments of old architecture. Its picturesque suburbs have long been a source of inspiration for many Russian artists. The beauty of the Upper Volga scenery prompted Isaac Levitan to create some of his most lyrical canvases. Here, in the village of Litvinivo, not far from Kostroma, Aleksei Savrasov executed studies for his famous picture, The Rooks Have Returned. Much of Boris Kustodievs career was connected with this land.

    Born in Kostroma was Fiodor Volkov, the founder of Russias first theatre. The celebrated dramatist Alexander Ostrovsky lived for a long time here while the writer Alexander Pisemsky, the critic and publicist Nikolai Mikhailovsky and the philosopher Vasily Rozanov all studied at a local school.

    The outstanding role which Kostroma played at certain periods in Russian history accounts for the art heritage to be found in the city today.

    The group of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century monuments in the territory of Kostroma and its vicinity include the Church of the Manifestation of Christ, the complex of the Ipatievsky Monastery, the church in the village of Krasnoye, the Church of the Resurrection-on-the-Debra and the Church of St. John the Baptist. Two ancient structures - the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Church of the Transfiguration - are situated on the right bank of the Volga.

    At the confluence of the Kostroma and Volga Rivers rise the white stone walls and golden cupolas of the Ipatievsky Monastery. It was founded in the latter half of the thirteenth century to protect the approaches to the city from the upper reaches of the Volga. The monastery experienced especial flourishing in the second half of the fourteenth century when the local boyar family of Godunov became powerful and donated funds for the erection of its stone walls and towers. The central structure in the monastery is the Trinity Cathedral built in 1652 on the site of the older church destroyed in 1649 by an explosion of gunpowder kept in the cellars. The austere and well-balanced building, with five golden domes supported by tall drums, dominates the surrounding scenery in the monastery grounds.

    In the western part of the cathedral was the burial vault of the Godunov family. The walls, vaults and piers of the cathedral are decorated with frescoes painted in 1684 by a team of artists headed by Gury Nikitin and Sila Savin. The team consisted of 18 men whose names are listed on the lower (or ornamental) tier of the north wall. These painters attained wide fame in the seventeenth century for the decoration of the churches in Moscow, Suzdal, Pereyaslavl-Zalessky and Yaroslavl. Yet the frescoes of the Trinity Cathedral are considered to be the peak of their achievement. 84 compositions extending in continuous horizontal tiers enclose the cathedrals space on all sides. Thematically the frescoes range from representations of the Old Testament Trinity to the Gospel story of Christ and the Acts of the Apostles. The lowest fresco band is essentially an ornament imitating a sumptuous fabric. The five-tier iconostasis, which effectively completes the cathedrals decor, was made by the Kostroma wood-carvers Piotr Zolotariov and Makar Bykov in the 1750s.

    Apart from the Trinity Cathedral and its monumental belfry (17th - 19th centuries), the Ipatievsky Monastery incorpotes the lavishly decorated Bishops Building (17th - 18th centuries) with the Church of St. Chrysanthus and St. Daria (19th century), the Monks Cells Building (dating from the 16th - 18th centuries), the cells above the cellars, a candle-manufacturing wing, and other structures. The monastery ensemble is part of the Kostroma Museum of History and Architecture.

    In 1958, a unique open-air museum of wooden architecture was set up at the walls of the Ipatievsky Monastery. Churches, old houses, barns, water- and windmills, and small bathhouses were brought from various villages in the Kostroma Region. Among the exhibits, the Church of the Synaxis of the Virgin (1552) from the village of Kholm and the Church of the Transfiguration (1713) from the Vezhi pogost command particular attention. Also on display is a large collection of objects of wood-carving whose traditions were passed from father to son.

    The Ipatievsky Monastery also served as a centre of artistic life. Its library numbering 338 titles included books of ecclesiastical content, on astronomy, history, medicine and geography, dictionaries of foreign words and secular literature. Kept at the library was the Ipatievskaya Chronicle, one of the oldest chronicles of Russian history which contains the most detailed description of the campaign of Prince Igor of Novgorod-Seversk. Many of the books were illuminated with magnificent miniatures, among them, the 1595 Psalter. The 1605 Book of Gospels, the 17th-century obituary book of the Krestovozdvizhensky Monastery (Monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross). The icon-painting workshop of the Ipatievsky Monastery produced works distinguished by an impeccable mastery of execution. A large number of icons in metal mountings richly decorated with precious and semi-precious stones were donated to the monastery by its patrons. Thus, the icon of St. Nicholas of Velikoretsk was presented to the monastery by Ivan the Terrible in memory of his elder son Ivan Ivanovich.

    The Kostroma Museum of History and Architecture owns multitudinous specimens of embroidery used for the decoration of church vestments. It also possesses a large collection of silverwork such as censers, chalices and other church plate. Mountings of icon, covers for the gospels and altar crosses all are adorned with plant ornament while the niello and engraving techniques predominate in the jewellers art.
One of the first stone buildings in the Kostroma territory was the Church of the Resurrection-on-the-Debra, erected in 1651 on funds given by the merchant Cyril Isakov. The Holy Gates of this church, the pride of the entire Volga Region, feature the white stone carved insertions depicting the lion, the unicorn and the alkonost, each one having a symbolic meaning. The Church of the Resurrection-on-the-Debra is an example of the patterned style typical of the second half of the seventeenth century. The inner walls of the parvis preserve the fragments of the seventeenth-century frescoes painted by a team of artists under Vasily Ilyin Zapokrovsky. The Chapel of the Tree Baptists was decorated under the supervision of Guri Nikitin.

    The extant structures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are well integrated into the citys layout, itself a monument of the town-building art of the classicist period. The citys straight streets fanning out from the U-shapes central square are intersected by four semi-rings of streets, forming the basis of the existing built-up areas.

    The facades of the commercial and administrative buildings give on to the central square. The complex of the Kostroma shopping arcades is among the largest market centres of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries which survive today. The complex took shape in the course of several decades and incorporates over ten buildings of various size located in the main square and its descent to the Volga. The key structures of this complex are the Textiles and Large Meal Stalls, the former - festive and sumptuous, the latter - truly monumental in appearance. Towering above the Textile Stalls is the Church of Our Saviour with its bell tower topped by a spire. The church was put up in 1766; the bell tower was built by S.Vorotilov in 1792 to emphasize the architectural centre of the complex.

    The shopping arcades determined the architectural aspect of the city from the side of the Volga River. Opposite the arcades, two obelisks (non-extant) were raised in 1823 on the Volga bank to decorate the entrance to Kostroma. The obelisks were designed by the architect P.Fursov. The complex of public buildings comprised a guardhouse, a fire-station and General Borshchovs House which stand along the perimeter of the main square. The fire-station and the guardhouse were built to plans by Fursov. The small guardhouse produces the impression of an attic placed on the earth; in order to enhance its scale within the general scheme of the square, the architect added to the structure a fence and iron forged lights on metal posts. The Borshchov House is located in the depths of the square and its facade features a formal eight-columned portico.

    Many residential houses in Kostroma are built in a neo-classical style but in the provinces this style has none of the clear-cut austerity of the metropolis, serving to accentuate the unpretentious harmony of the building and to impart to it an air of intimacy.

    This combination of the monuments of old architecture and cozy provintial neo-classicism, the blend of the regular layput and the wooden houses with an intricate lacy carvings on the facades, creates the unique, unforgettable image of Kostroma.

Hit Counter



Site Hosted by " - "  - Museums of Russia -
Last modified: 30 Mar 1999

, . 2009. jquery ext javascript css