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St Nicholas Cathedral Yaroslav court Novgorod photo

St. Nicholas Cathedral is in the center of the Yaroslavovo Dvorishche (Court). However, the cathedral has a very large cultural value, so it must be considered not as a part of the Dvorishche but as a separate sight of Novgorod the Great.

St. Nicholas Cathedral was built in 1113. So, actually, it is the oldest Russian cathedral. The cathedral was laid down by prince Mstislav Vladimirovich, a son of grand prince Vladimir Monomakh and English princess Gytha of Wessex. On his father`s side Mstislav was a descendant of Byzantine emperors and on his mother`s side he was a grandson of the last Anglo-Saxon king Harold II also called Harold Godwinson. The Novgorodians liked Mstislav but then he became prince of Belgorod and after the death of his father, Vladimir Monomakh, in 1125 Mstislav became grand prince of Kiev.

But although the Novgorodians liked Mstislav, in 1136 they expelled his posadniks from the city and declared it a republic. St. Nicholas Cathedral was consecrated in the same year. Architecturally, St. Nicholas Cathedral is a large cathedral of 12 century. And it looks very similar to the first churches of the ancient Kiev.

St. Nicholas Cathedral was the main church of the prince`s side of Novgorod, as well as the center of veches (town`s meetings). It was just there that residence of Novgorod princes was located. The residence was laid down by Yaroslav the Wise when he was prince of the city (1010-1034). It was named after Yaroslav the Wise, the Yaroslavovo Dvorishche.

During the World II St. Nicholas Cathedral was occupied by German barracks and was severely damaged. After the war the cathedral was turned into a museum but restoration works are still underway. In some parts of the cathedral there remained the fragments of 12-century frescoes. a small part of the frescoes depicting the Last Judgment, the frescoes of Job and his wife and the frescoes of the three hierarchs.