10 ancient masterpieces from Vladimir-Suzdalian Rus’ (PHOTOS)

Alexander Avilov/Moskva Agency
In the 12-13th centuries, the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality was the cultural center of Ancient Rus’. Even after conceding the status of the capital to Moscow, these cities played an important role in the life of the country, primarily in the spiritual sphere, for several centuries.

About a thousand years ago, the city of Suzdal was first mentioned in written sources and, 900 years ago - Vladimir. Today, they are small and nice provincial towns, but once they were one of the most important centers of ancient Russia. 

In the 12th century, the Grand Duchy of Vladimir and Suzdal (northeast of Moscow) was home to the richest princes, who sought to leave behind the best churches and works of art. The most famous of these were Yuri Dolgoruky and his sons Andrei Bogolyubsky and Vsevolod the Big Nest. They essentially formed the original Russian culture as we see it today. 

Up to the 18th century, masterpieces of architecture, icon painting, decorative-applied and book art were created there. Below are just some of the most important artifacts that are kept in the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve.

1. Golden gates of the Suzdal’s Nativity Cathedral (1230s)

2. Our Lady of Kazan. Icon in a jeweled case with a crown and a tsata (crescent-shaped jewelry decoration). Second quarter of the 17th century

3. Icon of the Protection of the Theotokos. Late 15th century

4. Our Lady of Vladimir. Attributed to Andrei Rublev. Late 14th - early 15th century

5. Mask of a lion from the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, 1160

6. Pillars of the church altar with the symbols of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 18th century

7. Large lantern for outdoor processions, also known as ‘Tsar Lantern’, from the Nativity Cathedral of the Suzdal Kremlin, 17th century

8. Blanket, covering the shrine of Saint Prince George Vsevolodovich, from the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, circa 1645

9. Mitra, the Metropolitan bishop’s headdress, 1645

10. Gospel in a jewelry coverage, early 18th century

The exhibition ‘Grand Duchy. Treasures of the Vladimir-Suzdal land’ is on display at the New Tretyakov Gallery from January 24 to May 10, 2023.

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