The Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, or just the Cathedral of St. Sophia, the most ancient stone church in the Rus, was laid down in 1045 by Yaroslav the Wise after the fashion of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. The churches of the northern Rus differ from those that were built in the southern lands. The northern churches are low buildings with thick walls and narrow windows. It is explained by the severe northern climate. However, despite this, the ancient architects designed a monumental church reaching the height of 38 meters.
The front side of the St. Sophia Cathedral is decorated by the bronze gate of German craftsmen, which were installed there in 1187. They were called the Magdeburg Gate. In the 12 century the interior of the St. Sophia Cathedral was completely painted, but only some part of the frescoes survived to our days. The five-tier iconostasis including over 70 icons is one of the most ancient and most beautiful in Russia.
The churches of the north are squat, have thick walls and narrow windows. This is due to the harsh northern climate. However, in spite of this, ancient architects managed to create a monumental church of 38 meters high. Wall thickness reaches 1.2 meters. The width of the cathedral with galleries is 39 meters.
The main holy things stored in St. Sophia Cathedral are the Icon of Our Lady of the Sign, one of the most revered icons in Russia, the Ostromyslovo Gospel, and the oldest of the surviving manuscripts in Russia, the Cross of Alexis of 14 century. Also, near the altar you can see the original cross from the dome of St. Sophia Cathedral, along with a dove depicting the Holy Spirit.