XII century and the reign of Prince Rostislav (1125-1159) became the heyday of Smolensk. It was then the first among Russian cities in terms of the intensity of construction. Archaeologists have found the remains of more than thirty buildings. Three churches of the XII century – the Church of Peter and Paul, the Church of the Archangel Michael (Svir Church) and the Church of John the theologian (for comparison: the total number of monuments of the pre-Mongol period in all cities of North-Eastern Russia does not exceed thirty) have survived to this day.
the Temple of the Archangel Michael was built in 1191-94 by Prince David Rostislavich of Smolensk, who set himself the goal – to create a temple that could scale and beauty to Eclipse all the churches in the district. In the annals of that time there are admiring reviews of contemporaries about the Svir Church, which struck against the background of traditional squat wooden buildings boldness of architectural solutions and rich interior decoration.
in 1812, the temple suffered from conquerors. It was looted by Napoleon's soldiers, who dismantled all the wooden elements for firewood. After the expulsion of the enemy, the Church of Archangel Michael was restored thanks to the personal intervention of the Russian Emperor Alexander I. the Svir Church was restored at his own expense by merchant Vasily Khlebnikov. On his order, the temple was surrounded by a stone fence, arranged with a gate bell tower. The Church opened the first school in Smolensk for poor and homeless children. It is noteworthy that in our days at the Church of the Archangel Michael created a Regional center for family protection, motherhood and childhood "Smolensk house for mom", which helps pregnant women, mothers and children in trouble.
Continuing the story of the ancient temple of the Smolensk note that in 1930, the year of worship in the Svirskaya Church ended, and it was organized by the military warehouse. For a long time the Svir Church was in desolation. Over the years, badly damaged frescoes - almost all the internal walls and vaults were painted, but to this day it has reached only in the form of small fragments. Near the temple there are several ancient stone tombstones.
In 1963, the life of the Church of Archangel Michael returned the project of Peter Baranovsky. From this moment begins a new page in the history of the temple – the restoration of the Shrine.
And today we are proud to tell everyone about the Smolensk pearl of pre-Mongolian architecture.
According to the set of architectural solutions Svirskaya Church is a four-column cross-domed Church with three levels of light, three two-tier vestibules and a high semicircular apse. A second tier was placed choirs.
On a high hill above the Dnieper, near the Church of the Archangel Michael, stands another temple of the XII century - the Church of St. John the theologian. Thanks to this location, it immediately became a favorite place of all Orthodox merchants who sailed past the Dnieper. .
The Stone Church in honor of the Apostle and Evangelist John the theologian was built in 1173 by Roman Rostislavovich, Prince of Smolensk. The temple was richly decorated with gold and finish. Here Prince Roman has opened a school, where "teachers were the Greeks and the Latins".
This Church is a classic single-domed, cross-domed, four-column Church with three semicircular apses, built of narrow bricks of Byzantine pattern (plinths) on lime mortar. Initially, three sides of the Church adjoined the gallery. From the external ornament on the Church there are decorative crosses from the plinth, as well as niches under the arched Windows of the 8-sided drum.
If you cross the bridge from the Church of John the theologian, the traveler will see a stunning view of the Church of Peter and Paul. It was built in the middle of the XII century during the reign of Rostislav Mstislavovich. It is the oldest of the surviving temples of Smolensk.
In 1757, next to the temple was built the Church of the great Martyr Barbara with a tent bell tower, and in the XIX century there was a stone fence and the house of the clergy.
Inside the Church of Peter and Paul remains of colorful frescoes and scratched graffiti inscriptions, some of which belong to Prince Rostislav Mstislavich-the Builder of the temple.
The Church of Peter and Paul for several centuries of its existence has gone through a lot: rebuilt, suffered from wars, fires, until finally, in the 60s of the last century has not found its original form. The restoration was done by the famous architect Peter Baranovsky. He separated the temple from the barbarian and returned it to its former appearance, which was in the XII century. And now Smolensk can be proud of a unique monument of architecture-the Church of Peter and Paul, which looks exactly like 900 years ago.
We invite you to admire the ancient temples of Smolensk. You can take a walking tour, starting the visit with a visit to the Church of the Archangel Michael, then down at Vladimir promenade and explore the Church of St. John the theologian and to complete the journey in the XII century in the vicinity of the temple of Peter and Paul.