The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius is a religious building in the ancient Russian city of Vladimir. The cathedral itself is over 800 years old: it was finished in 1191 during the reign of the Grand Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest of Vladimir-Suzdal to the honour of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. Being an important component of the White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal, the cathedral belongs to the World Heritage of UNESCO.
Architecturally, the cathedral is one-domed and four-pillared. Originally it was surrounded by galleries with towers that connected it to the prince’s palace. They were demolished during the restoration in the 19th century. The church is famous for its white-stone carvings – its walls are decorated with about 600 reliefs, depicting saints, mythical and real animals. Most of the reliefs are preserved in their original form, some have been replaced during the restoration of the 19th century. Out of the internal decoration a few fragments of frescoes of the 12th century have survived, particularly fragments of the Last Judgement composition.
To understand the historic significance of the cathedral, we need to remember that in the 12th century, while it had already been the main religion in Europe for hundreds of years (almost one thousands in Italy, for instance), Russia had embraced Christianity only about two centuries earlier, in 988 AD.
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