The first mention of the town of Suzdal dates back to 1024. Through the history of this Russian Golden Ring town it often found itself in a middle of dramatic events. UNESCO put Suzdal on its list of the world’s most valuable historical and cultural places. Since then the town also was granted a status of a museum city.
In the XII century the city of Suzdal was the seat for Vladimir Monomach and his son Yuri Dolgorukyi. Since then Suzdal remains a small town. Despite its size, the Russian town has more churches and monasteries then many large cities in Russia. Initially, when Suzdal was first founded near village of Kideksha, its buildings were mainly constructed of wood. It was much later, when the churches and major public buildings were re-built of masonry. Nativity Cathedral of Suzdal remains its most important cultural and historical object to this day.
The Nativity Cathedral that was constructed in XIII century is the principal edifice of ancient Suzdal. The cathedral is one of the most intricate monuments of ancient Russian architecture. The Nativity Cathedral became the first urban house of worship which was not exclusively intended for the noble elite. Throughout its history the temple was several times put on fire. Mortal remains of sons of Grand Duke Yuri Dolgoruky, the princes Shuisky and other noble persons were laid to rest in the cathedral.
Among Old Russian towns comprising the Vladimir-Suzdalian principality Suzdal was distinguished for its fidelity to ancient traditions.
The art of Suzdal is allegorical, it employs an abstract language.
Working on the composition, the artist would pay more attention to the general idea than to particular details. The composition and color scheme were strictly balanced. Inscriptions on Suzdal's icons are mainly autobiographical. In order to emphasize the abstract idea, Suzdal's masters totally denied material volumes.
Exquisite and lavish patterns, predominance of plane decorative foundation are the most characteristic features of Suzdal's art.
After a decline in political importance, the town rose in prominence as a religious center with numerous monasteries and a remarkable ratio of churches to citizens: at one point, forty churches for four hundred families. Today, the town operates as an important tourist center, featuring many fine examples of Russian architecture — most of them churches and monasteries. Walking through the town one might get the feeling that every third building is a church. Although having over ten thousand residents, Suzdal still retains the look and feel of a small village with streams and meadows everywhere, and chicken and livestock a common sight on the city streets, some of which are unpaved. This juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm, and in the summer artists and easels are a common sight.
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