Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polotskis probably one of the oldest churches on the territory of Belarus. The construction of St. Sophia Cathedral began Prince Vseslav the Magician in the 11th century. The Cathedral became an exact copy of the Byzantine shrines and a symbol of independence, statehood and power of the Polotsk Principality.
The history of St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk
The temple built on the confluence of two rivers: the Chamber and the Western Dvina. Polotsk Sofia looked very symmetrical and had seven chapters. The Central dome was surrounded by four domes, having a smaller size. The baptistery and stair towers had their own Chapter. All this created a gorgeous composite image of the structure. The walls of the temple were decorated with frescoes, which have survived to the present day.
Saint Sophia Cathedral served not only a place for prayers, the building was a library, archive, magicrat, Treasury. The Church holds religious shrines and the state Treasury, declared war and peace and held meetings with ambassadors. The Cathedral was distinguished from Kiev and Novgorod to the fact that it was not galleries. In the temple there were three asps, not five.
Since its construction the temple was a fortress that guarded the Prince and his squad from danger. Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polatsk are often decorated and rebuilt several times. He was struck by its singularity and grace of Ivan the terrible, released from the army in the border on, in 1563. The Cathedral was a major cultural and educational center, as well as the burial place for the princes of Polotsk – was excavated 16 tombs.
In the late 16th century Cathedral of St. Sophia went over to the Uniates. In 1607 the building was damaged by fire, but by 1618 it was restored. By order of the Archbishop Azafata kuntsevych took off the top corner battle towers.
In the St. Sophia Cathedral during the Northern war Tsar Peter I, Menshikov and officers killed fathers Kryshevich Yakub, Yakub Kozikowska and Isaac Ankudovich, and vicar of Constantine Zhykovskogo. Russian soldiers looted the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Polotsk and monasteries. By order of Tsar Peter I the Church was given to the storage of gunpowder and ammunition. In the early 18th century in the basement was blown up by gunpowder, after which the temple was seriously damaged. Fifty years later, the Cathedral was restored, but in the Baroque style.
On equity Archbishop F. Grabicki on the ruins of the Cathedral in the mid-18th century founded the graceful St. Sophia Cathedral. It was built in the Vilnius Baroque style and consecrated after the descent of the Holy spirit.
For several centuries the Church became the Cathedral of the bishops of Polotsk and the spiritual symbol of the city.
St. Sophia Cathedral today
In the most ancient part of the Church are preserved frescoes of the 11th century. The sides of the adders there are ornamental motifs, while the Central part is a fragment of "Eucharist". On the southern part there are the remains of frescoes of the "Holy communion". At the height of the Windows is a band of ornament, which includes trehlistnik, circled the triangle being a symbol of the unity of the Holy Trinity.
Rebuilt in style of late Baroque Vilnius, the Church was given a new interior. In addition to Baroque columns appeared notched eaves, moldings, and unusual colors. Part of the altar is separated from the Central nave by means of high barriers to the arch which belonged to the bas-relief image of the new Testament Trinity. On the altar screen was preserved copy of Leonardo da Vinci's the last supper and the Holy face.
Near the Cathedral is one of Borisovich stones. In the big concert hall of the temple hosts festivals and concerts of organ and chamber music. It featured such virtuosos as Veronica Weber-Gerken (Germany), Pierre is Alive (France) and others.