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Church of Spasa-na-Iliene: Frescoes by Theophanes the Greek

Ilyina Street is one of the oldest in Veliky Novgorod. Here rises a small white Church of Spasa-na-Iliene (Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior) with a dark dome. This temple was built on the Torgovaya side in 1374. Its main value is the fourteenth century’s frescoes by the famous Theophanes the Greek, a Byzantine painter who worked in Constantinople and Crimean Theodosia before coming to Rus’. These paintings are the master’s first work in Russia!

The dome frescoes of the Church of Spasa-na-Iliene are the world’s only surviving paintings of Theophanes the Greek, and therefore this temple is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here, in silence and dimness, one can climb the steep stone steps to Troitsky side-chapel and get a view of the wonderful fragments of the surviving frescoes. They were done by the master 8 years after his arrival in Novgorod, in 1378. Thanks to these frescoes, the Novgorod masters developed their own style of painting temples: many of them learned to paint looking at these images of Theophanes the Greek and trying to follow his pencil. Outside, it’s worth paying attention to the image of Our Lady Hodegetria on the western facade of the church, which was found under the split-off plaster in 1831. The southern facade features a fresco of the holy face of Our Lady of the Sign, written in 1700.

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ul Ilina 26 k 2, Vihodnoy posledniy chetverg mesyaca Zakrita pri vipadenii osadkov
173000, Velikiy Novgorod
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