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Graveyard Shirkov

Wooden Church of St. John the Baptist

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Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
Graveyard Shirkov
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At the end of the lake Sterzh on the horizon suddenly occurs any incomprehensible silhouette. At first it seems a high spruce. When coming closer you understand that was wrong. This is the famous wooden church of graveyard Shirkov, built in 1697. Local residents proudly call it "Tver Kizhi." The church stands on a sloping bank of the next lake at Upper Volga - Vselug. In those days, when there is no fog, it can be seen for tens kilometers. But to get out from Lake Sterzh to the Vselug, one must go through a narrow channel - riverbed of the Volga River, where Runa River joins the lake. About two kilometers up the river there is the village of the same name - the birthplace of the Hero of the Soviet Union Komsomol Lisa Chaikina.
The bed of the Volga River is meandering here. Turn, turn another - and after a wide reach opens an ancient graveyard Shirkov with a slender tier church. A little further away is the second one - a stone, built in the early XX century, and further, in the alder, a roof of a small wooden chapel could be seen. The impression of a slim silhouette of the ancient church is so great that you can’t see anything around it. Only after a while you realize that here is a complex of multi temporal buildings on the coast.
In 1673 a Swedish engineer and spyware Eric Palmkvist arrived to Russia. Along the way he sketched the panorama and plans of Russian cities, the appearance and costumes of the Russian people, drew fortresses and how they were strengthened. One of the drawings made in Torzhok shows a wooden church, according to its shape remarkably similar to the Shirkov graveyard church. Apparently, these stacked churches were quite widespread. We know more ancient image of the same church on the icon of the XVII century with a view of the Nil’s Hermitage reproduced in multi-volume "History of Russian Art."
One of the churches of the monastery is like a Shirkov, with the same pedimented coatings on a quadrangles decreasing up, and the careful study of the monastery building history provides an opportunity to name its approximate founding date - 1622 or 1635. Such structures can appear much earlier, but did not reach us, and the Shirkov church remained the only their example. However, some buildings at the north, known from photographs or survived in nature, can be associated with it (eg, Church of the Epiphany in the village Paltoga of Vytegorsky District, 1733).
Shirkov church is a complex engineering structure, its singularity is observed in the last century in a report to the Imperial Archaeological Commission: "In the churchyard Shirkov, that on the Volga, 19 miles from its source, there is related to the second half of the XVII century, a remarkable monument of antiquity ... The style of the church - old Russian, the original building with multiple facades on all gable roofs in several tiers, and the building constructed of excessive thick logs and beams...". An ordinary log on a four wall basement was taken as a basis of the temple building. Faceted apse is at the east, the gallery on the consoles is at the north, west and south. Two decreasing quadrangles covered by eight rays rise above the main cage. The temple is crowned with a high-round drum with a big head. The height of the church is about 40 meters up to cross, but the development of forms so fast, so dynamic that the view is not able to fix this height, at least approximately. Here is a description of A.V. Opolovnikov, author of the restoration project of the Shirkov graveyard and one of the researchers of this monument: "The first floors (tiers – A.G.) of the John the Baptist Church interpreted beautifully, full of light and shadow play, and due to a powerful leaching of log consoles supporting the gallery, make an impression of extreme structural strength. Horizontal partitioning of galleries highlight the rare powerful upward aspiration of subsequent layers... This contrast, apparently, is not accidental. The visual effect caused by that contrast is strictly intended."
In 1882 facades of the Church of John the Baptist were covered with boards, and the roof was covered with iron. In the 30-40s of the XIX century a bell-tower was build on from the west, destroying the porch leading to the high gallery. During the restoration this tower was dismantled, even not marking the logs and referring to the fact that it distorts the slender silhouette of an ancient volume. But now instead of the 150-year bell tower occurred a new porch - a fantasy of the modern restorer, because there was no information about the original form required restoring the porch. So, the wooden bell tower of the first half of last century disappeared because of ill-conceived and hasty decision.
Looking from the outside, it is impossible to imagine the interior of at St. John the Baptist church. It’s difficult to believe, entering there the first time that it belongs to this church. After a rapid rate of a surging tiers - inside the temple looks like a normal village hut. It seems that a carpenter interested only in multi-tier composition and very little - the interior of the church. The low flat ceiling is herring-bone bonded; a light leaking through a small window is not strong enough to disperse the darkness of the corners (some windows were chipped later, even that was not enough), the walls were hewn smooth, corners were rounded. Now, when there is no iconostasis, the similarity of the church interior with the usual hut became more noticeable. Only a small details – cuttings of a bargeboard in the choir, a thorough treatment of the windows, fitting grooves logs - show great skill of the carpenter.
This at first sight lack of attention to interior design of the temple is apparent. In the cold winter church room disclosed up would be difficult to heat; small windows were made to keep warm but overlooking the little light, but were arranged so that light from them fell directly on the iconostasis and the icons were clearly visible for the worshipers. In our country there is a specialized research organization dedicated to the protection of the tree from destruction - Senezhskaya laboratory of wood preservation. Head of the Laboratory S.N. Gorshin - the largest specialist who investigated the condition of many old wooden buildings - once expressed a curious and seemingly simple idea: "Why are the churches, such as Shirkov churchyard, were able to survive to the present day? It’s because they were built properly". This becomes especially clear when you see the monument not at the drawings and photographs, but standing nearby, touching the walls made by logs up to 70 cm in diameter (these trees are a rarity in the central Russia).
At the end of the XIX century Shirkov churchyard became one of the largest villages on the lake Vselug. Around a few kilometers there were no churches. Ancient wooden church was too small, besides it was not heated, and "in the winter praying people had to be present at worship no other way than in coats and mittens." So the locals not to go "according to the established custom (that is, to sell it for demolition. - AG) in order on the obtained money to improve the new church ... (this would be an unforgivable sin in relation to such a monument of antiquity) ... ", started to build a more spacious stone church with large windows and heating. Its construction was carried out very simply: "... the parishioners ... appointed capitation fee, and thus in the course of 6-7 years have collected about 27,000 rubles, that was enough for a stone building church in the churchyard Shirkov" (in 1912).
The new church, the same age as the Olginsky convent church at the Upper Volga, differs little from it by the architectural and artistic qualities. As a model for its composition, probably served churches of the XVI century, the side chapels turned into arches, outdoor open arcade and the circuitous galleries – to a room in the baptismal in front of the altar. Being close to the wooden church on the same lake shore new stone one complements perfectly the panorama, enhances the sound of the forms of the ancient monument of the XVII century. Right there beside a mountain, over the spring in a ravine there is very unpretentious, over-depositary wooden chapel. Its four-wall log building with unpretentious completion protected the spring from contamination and frosts. The procession has coming here twice a year, on summer and winter, from the churches of the village and the Blessing of the Waters has being done.
Downstream of Shirkov churchyard in the middle of the lake lonely lays a small island with a strange name - God's work. Old-timers still remember at this island a monastery of which only ruins now remain. It was called the monastery Novosolovetskaya Hermitage, in contrast to the Solovki monastery on the White Sea, but the locals knew it as the God's work. This name was confirmed for the island too. There are several versions regarding the monastery origin. By one (it was founded relatively late - in 1701), the first monk, Joel, who came here and contracted carpenters to cut the church, refused to pay them at the end of he work, saying that the construction of convent is "God's work" and the fee is not should be. According to another version, the same monk collecting alms, asked "to sacrifice for God's work". The monastery was abolished in 1764, but was restored soon again, attributing to the Nil’s Hermitage.
Opposite the island on the eastern shore of the lake the village Gorki spread over. The traditional name of the village originated, apparently, from the very hills, between which a broad street had been laid down directly to the water. In the center of the village on the slope of the ravine, pressed inconspicuous chapel. Coming closer to it, you realize that it is different than the ones that are still found occasionally in the countryside and villages of Tver. It’s unusual to build a chapel on the slope, and only carefully investigated it, we can see that it is built not by an accident. Once the entrance to the chapel was not at the suburb side, but was at the stairs directly from the street, laid on the bottom of the ravine.
The wide porch – an open arcade at remote console, hanging over a ravine, - fenced by a parapet and surrounds the chapel itself of the northern and western sides. East side - blank, is facing directly into the ravine, and the south one, with a window - on the suburb. Another window on the north side goes out under the shed of the open arcade. Log cabin chapel is made in Kletsky type and placed on boulders and is made of thick logs. On the east side the log is cut, that immediately distinguishes this part of the building from the others. A chapel tent is crowned with a simple hipped forged cross. The tent was initially higher and thinner, which suggests the direction of the joints of rafters on the upper crowns of the framework. Kosyaschataya deck of the doorway leading from the porch to inside, and both decks of windows carved out from thick timbers. Inside corners are rounded walls, the floor is made of wide boards, and the ceiling is assembled in herringbone.
Time of occurrence of the chapel is unknown. But the logs, especially the lower crowns, with 50-60 cm "in the butt", the technique of processing ends with an ax, a form of console for promenade, wide flooring boards, deck windows and doors - all this say about the early date of the monument, it can be attributed to the time of construction of the church in the churchyard Shirkov. Such chapels were built sometimes in one day, according a vow, from the most accessible material, dedicated to some local event, holiday or locally venerated saints. These simple works of folk architecture quickly dilapidated, were replaced by more permanent structures or died in the flames. Traces of rearrangements of the chapel in the village Gorki are too visible, but they are not distorted a monument beyond recognition, and its ancient forms visible in almost every detail. Perhaps it is the only well-preserved ancient wooden chapel.
The distance from the Park Hotel "SDL": 
30 km