Pereslavl-Zalessky is an old Russian city in the Yaroslavl region, 140 kilometers away from Moscow. It is located on the banks of the Trubezh River, in the place where it flows into Lake Pleshcheevo. Pereslavl is included in the popular tourist route “Golden Ring” and is famous for its well-preserved monuments of ancient Russian architecture and unusual museums. There are also a lot of old temples, churches, and cathedrals in the city. Many pilgrims come to Pereslavl seeking to visit the revived monasteries namely Nikitsky, Danilov, Fedorovsky, and Nikolsky. As for the cathedrals, here are two significant ones you can find in Pereslavl-Zalessky.
1. Transfiguration Cathedral of Pereslavl
The Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in the Pereslavl Kremlin was founded by Yuri Dolgoruky in 1152. It was built under the command of Andrei Bogolyubsky in 1157. Today, the cathedral functions as a branch of the city museum-reserve with restricted access.
The Cathedral is the only one of the first five white-stone temples of North-Eastern Russia that has come down to the modern world almost completely intact. Many Pereslavl princes were baptized in the cathedral, including Alexander Nevsky, who was born in Pereslavl in 1221. In the 13th-14th centuries, the Transfiguration Cathedral was the tomb of Pereslavl specific princes. Here, princes Dmitry Alexandrovich and Ivan Dmitrievich were buried. In 1939, during the excavations under the direction of N.N. Voronin, a rare lid of a sarcophagus from the grave of Ivan Dmitrievich was discovered decorated with a triangular-notched ornament.
By the end of World War II, on September 2, 1945, the Alexander Nevsky Museum was created in the cathedral, which was subsequently closed, unfortunately.
This one-domed four-pillar cross-domed three-apse temple is the earliest of the white-stone architectural monuments of North-Eastern Russia. The walls of the cathedral are laid out in semi-booth technique from beautifully hewn and laid almost dry white-stone blocks. The foundation is made of large cobblestone with lime. Compared to pre-Mongol time, the building “grew into the ground” by about 90 cm: 2 more rows of white stone basement masonry go below the low tide.
The decor of the temple is very strict; the drum is decorated with a curb and a girdle belt, along the top of the apse there is an arcature belt, a curb and a carved half shaft. A.G. Chinyakov, who examined and restored the cathedral in the 1940s, suggested that the drum ended with a chain of carved arches similar to the drums of the Vladimir Assumption Cathedral.
No stone porches and other annexes to the cathedral were preserved; archaeological research did not reveal any traces of them. It is likely that the stone entrance to the choirs in the second tier of the western part of the northern wall of the cathedral was adjoined not by a stone (as in most pre-Mongol churches of North-Eastern Russia), but by a wooden staircase. During excavations in the temple in the late 1930s, majolica tiles of yellow, green and brown were found, covering the floor. More elegant tiles, white with a blue ornament, probably decorated the choirs.
2. Vladimir Cathedral
In the heart of Pereslavl-Zalessky , not far from Pushkin Park, stands a beautiful old church – Vladimir Cathedral. It appeared in the Bogoroditsky-Sretensky Novodevichy Convent in the 40s of the XVIII century, and after almost 160 years became the New Orthodox Cathedral of the city. This temple is notable for the fact that its large central head is unusually high. And therefore, its appearance is well remembered.
At the beginning of the XX century, the spacious building of the cathedral was thoroughly restored and made the main Orthodox Church in the city. Locals began to call it the New Cathedral. They attributed to the old Transfiguration Cathedral, built at the end of the 16th century.
In the New Cathedral there were a lot of old liturgical utensils; bowls made of silver, chalice and beautiful gift-keepers, as well as well-preserved icons of the 16th-18th centuries. The nearby bell tower was famous for its set of bells with a beautiful deep ringing that rang out further than the city blocks.
In 1918, the diocese was recreated in the city again, and in the New Cathedral all bishop services began to be held, since it has received the status of a cathedral. Archimandrite Damian was appointed bishop. But this did not last long. The new government everywhere carried out the seizure of church values. Damian was arrested in 1920 and exiled to the camp, where he died in the 1940s. Not the best fate awaited the next bishop of Pereslavl, Reverend Leonid. He was also arrested and executed in 1937. After his death, the diocese was abolished.
In the 20s of the last century, the Cathedral was still operational. It was used as tenants by the local religious community, consisting of priests and representatives of the merchants. In 1919, when the five-year lease agreement for the cathedral was concluded, the society numbered 60 people, and at the end of the lease, almost no one was left in it.
The architecture of Vladimir Cathedral
The cathedral was built of brick as a summer monastery church. According to the architectural solution, this is a five-headed quadruple with lateral protrusions. All of them are covered by a single roof with lucarnes – window openings in the roof slope. The refectory was made in honor of the Apostle Philip.
The appearance of the cathedral immediately attracts attention. It has a typical Baroque complex layout and completion. The building itself is quite large. And its five chapters on high drums are set close enough to each other. The dome brought under the main, more massive drum, in comparison with the four others, is disproportionately large, and this gives the structure a memorable appearance.
More recently, Vladimir Cathedral was painted white with blue domes. But at the last repair, it was painted in brick red, and the domes were made green.