Part III

During the invasion of Rus by the Mongol - Tatar hordes of Khan Batu in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, Novgorod was spared the dire fate of most Russian cities: it was not seized and laid waste by the enemy. Yet the common hardships of all Russian lands told heavily on Novgorodian art and culture.

Architecture was the first of the arts to be affected by the conquest. From the middle of thirteenth century onwards there was a uniform fall in building activities throughout Russia, not only in the regions swept by Batu's hordes but also in Novgorod, which had not been overrun by the enemy. The interruption of trade with the southern regions caused such a decline in the city's economy that very little construction work could be done during that period. In spite of this, however, architectural thought continued to advance.

The only stone structure surviving from the late thirteenth century is the monastery church of St. Nicholas - on - the - Lipna (on - the - Swamp), built in the vicinity of Novgorod in 1292 y., under Prince Andrei, son of Alexander Nevsky. It was erected on the spot traditionally associated with the discovery of a wonder - working icon of St. Nicholas. The building is of exceptional interest to the history of Russian architecture, and its frescoes - to that of Russian painting. In form, the church is almost a regular cube, with the roof resting on a trefoil arch outlined on the external walls by a band of arcading. A similar band decorated the top of the drum under the helmet - shaped cupola. There is but a single dome and a single apse, and this adds to the monolithic unity of the building. In the interior, fragments of ancient fresco work have survived. Their clearing, started in 1930 y., was resumed after the war; and their significance to Russian art history can hardly be overestimated.