The Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyina Street is in the far side of the trading quarter of Velikiy Novgorod (Novgorod the Great). It is of exceptional cultural value for Russia, as only in this church there remained the original frescoes of a great Russian icon painter Theophanes the Greek.
The first wooden church appeared on this place in 1103 but because of frequent fires it was often rebuilt. The today one-dome stone church dates back to 1374. The money for the church was collected by the residents of Ilyina Street, the main street of the Slovenian End (district).
Theophanes the Greek is one of the three prominent Russian icon painters including Andrei Rublev and Dionysius. He was born in Constantinople in 1340, in the waning years of the Byzantine Empire. In the age of 30 he came to Russia where he settled in Novgorod the Great. It was just there that he was nicknamed the Greek.
In 1378 the artel of Theophanes the Greek received the order for painting the Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyina Street from a rich Novgorod boyar Vasily Danilovich. The most famous work of Theophanes the Greek is the monumental fresco of Christ the Almighty in the dome of the church. There also remained many frescoes painted by Theophanes the Greek himself in the choir of the Trinity side altar, as well as near the church entrance. The boyar Vasily Danilovich used to offer prayers in the side altar. Particularly, there remained the frescoes of the Holy Trinity, of the three stylites and many other icons of the Holy Fathers and angels.
You can also find some frescoes of Theophanes the Greek in the other parts of the church. They are: «St. Thecla», «Spyridon of Trimython», «The Righteous Melchisedec», «The Prophet John the Forerunner», «Anthimos of Nicomedia».
The school of Theophanes the Greek became very famous in Russia fast enough. He received many orders for painting churches in the other cities and towns, and in 1390 he moved to Moscow. The most significant Moscow works of Theophanes the Greek are painting the Archangel cathedral and Annunciation cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
You can see the icons of Theophanes the Greek at the Tretyakov Gallery and Annunciation cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. But unfortunately, his monumental works, excepting his very first fresco in the Church of Transfiguration in Novgorod the Great, didn’t survive to our days. For this reason, this church has such great value for Russia.