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h e c a t h e d r a l o f t h e N a t i v i t y o f t h e V i r g i n

was the first stone structure not only of Ferapontov monastery but of

the whole Lake Beloye area as well. Built in 1490, six years earlier

than the Kirillov cathedral of the Dormition, it has many features comm

to both monuments. Its inner arrangement with stepped arches supporting

the drum, the surmounting of the cubic volume o f the cathedral with three

tiers of «kokoshniki», each one having three «kokoshniki» on the facade, the

similarly placed ornamental friezes which included the same balusters and

ceramic plates with plant ornamen tation , the perspective portal with a keel­

like apex carved from natural stone and many other common devices speak

of the closeness o f the architecture of the two monuments which could have

probably been even built by the same master.

Although their decorative devices are much alike, their arch itec tu ra l im ­

ages greatly differ. As opposed to the massive and rather squat cathedral of

the Dormition which is crowned by a huge stone drum and gives an imp re s ­

sion of gigantic might, the cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin has light

and elegant proportions emphasized by its position on a «podklet» and is

surmounted by a small graceful drum. The builders paid special a tten tion to

the west facade; they decorated it with an additional row o f ceramic plates

depicting fantastic animals above the socle and filled the whole surface of

the «zakomari» with patterned brickwork. The o ther facades were treated

much simpler. For instants, the decoration of the south and no rth portals

consists of several projections of brickwork as it was common for p r e -m o n ­

go! architecture. But even here builders o f the cathedral with very sparing

means, just by including ceramic balusters in the brickwork, gave the portals

that special elegance characteristic of the architecture o f the cathedral in

general. Ano ther distinguishing feature of the cathedral o f the Nativity of

the Virgin was the placing of a second, smaller drum with a cupola above

the south-east corner o f the edifice where the chapel of St. Nicho las was


We do not know when exactly the cathedral was surrounded by stone

parvises, but by the middle of the XVI century they undoubtedly already

existed. They belong to a later period than the cathedral, for they were built

of a different kind o f brick and the painting on the west facade o f the c a t h e ­

dral was damaged during their construction. The parvis had two tiers from

the very beginning. The lower tier was blank, while the west and south sides