St. Nicolas Church, Lviv
Ancient monuments of Lviv architecture of XIII-XIV centuries came to us in changed form.
In B.Khmelnytskogo Street even now there several famous churches: St.Nicolas, St. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, Onufry. All of them were built much later, in 16-18th centures, but on the basements of the most ancient Lviv temples. St.Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Church was located beyond Okolnyi town and used as fortification too; it had underpass to Vysokyi Zamok. In the current architecture of Pyatnitsa and Onufry church there are features and characteristics of ancient Russian architecture. This is undoubtedly affected by continuity of native local building traditions.
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Even more directly it is traced in the architecture of St.Nicolas Church. It is known that the church existed already in 1292 as princely courtier temple; later it was owned by shoemakers. However, by its size and overall imaginative solutions the church is closer not to the type of chamber temples, but raher to the public, monumental structures. There are no grand portals, imposing decoration.
But low doors, not big windows in the form of loopholes, walls of cut stone radiate power and impressiveness of military fortress. In case of siege this building could stand against onslaught of enemies. Large smooth simple elements of construction are the evidence of severe and heroic era.
St.Nicolas Church has three apses and elliptical dome and it is one of cross domed Orthodox churches which were spread in the territory of south-west part of Kievan Rus. Some elements are similar to those in monuments of Vladimir-Suzdal architecture. Cultural connection between two principalities was noticed not once.
Common plan and bottom part of walls are remains of building of 13th century. Top part of walls and roof were constructed in 17th - beginning of 18th centuries. In 1776 the sacristy was attached. And in 1800 the new dome was built. Middle apse has its own dome. Facade - pilasters. The interior was decorated in rococo style in 18th century. In side altars there are icons of 17th century which were replaced from wooden St. Theodore Church destroyed in 19th century. Iconostasis and murals on the gable are created by artists of our century.
But all these changes did not affect the point of this rare and interesting monument of Galician-Volyn architecture. Two chapels on the sides of three-nave temple with dome create pyramidal composition of architectural volumes grouped by two intersecting axes of symmetry.
This picturesque appearance doesn't reduce the impression of simplicity and laconisism of large architectural forms of monument which evokes associations with warrior clad in chain mail. Byzantine scheme of cross dome temple is reinterpeted here in accordance with national originality of local and Old Russian architecture. In the same time many churches-fortresses are similar to monuments of Balkan and Romanesque architecture which can be explained with lively cultural ties of Galicia-Volhynia with medieval Europe.