At the end of Lake Sterzh on the horizon unexpectedly arises some kind of incomprehensible silhouette. At first it seems like a high fir. Only getting closer, you will understand that you made a mistake. This is the famous wooden church of Shirkov Pogost, built in 1697. Local residents not without pride call it "Tver Kizhi". The church stands on the gentle bank of the next lake Volgo-Upper Vselug. In those days when there is no fog, it can be seen for tens of kilometers. But, to get from Lake Sterzh to Vselug, it is necessary to pass a narrow channel - the channel of the Volga, where the Runa River flows into. Kilometers in two higher upstream is the village of the same name - the birthplace of the Hero of the Soviet Union Komsomol Liza Chaykina.
The riverbed of the Volga is winding. Turn, another turn - and beyond the wide reach opens the ancient Shirkov churchyard with a harmonious tiered church. A little further from it is the second one - a stone one, built in the beginning of the 20th century, and further away, in the alder-grove, you can see the roof of a small wooden chapel. The impression of the graceful silhouette of the ancient church is so great that you do not pay attention to the rest. Only after some time you realize that here on the shore is a whole complex of different buildings.
In 1673, a Swedish engineer and spy Erik Palmquist came to Russia. On the way, he sketched the panoramas and plans of Russian cities, the look and costumes of Russian people, painted fortresses and how they were fortified. One of the drawings, made in Torzhok, depicts a wooden church, which in its outlines is remarkably similar to the church church of Shirkov. Apparently, such multi-tiered churches were quite widespread. There is another ancient image of the same church on the icon of the XVII century with the view of the Nile Desert, reproduced in the multi-volume "History of Russian Art". One of the churches of the monastery is similar to the Shirkovo church, with the same pofronton coverings on the decreasing quaternities, and a careful study of the building history of the monastery makes it possible to name the approximate date of its foundation - 1622 or 1635. Such structures could have appeared much earlier, but they did not reach us, and the Shirkovo church remained their only example. However, in the north, some buildings, known from photographs or surviving in nature, can be compared with it (for example, the Epiphany Church of the village of Paltogh Vytegorsky district, 1733).
The Shirkovo church is a complex engineering structure, the unusualness of which was noted in the last century in a report to the Imperial Archaeological Commission: "In the Pogost Shirkovo, on the Volga, 19 versts from its source, there is a remarkable monument of the antiquity to the second half of the 17th century ... The style of the church is Old Russian, the original building with several gable roofs on all facades, in several tiers, and the building itself is built of logs and beams of excessive thickness ... ". As a basis for the construction of the temple is taken the usual four-walled frame on the podklet. From the east a faceted apse, and from the north, west and south - galleries on consoles. Two more diminishing chetverics, covered by eight skates, rise above the main cage. The temple is crowned by a tall round drum with a large head. The height of the church is about 40 meters to the cross, but the development of forms is so fast, so dynamic that the view is unable to fix this height at least approximately. Here is how AVOpolovnikov characterized it, the author of the restoration project of Shirkov Pogost and one of the researchers of this monument: "The first floors (tiers - A.G.) of the Ioanno-Predtechenskaya church are treated picturesquely, saturated with the play of chiaroscuro and, thanks to the powerful removal of logs The consoles supporting the gallery give an impression of extreme constructive tension. The horizontal sections of the galleries emphasize the rare intensity of the upward strides of the subsequent tiers ... This contrast, apparently, is not accidental. The visual effect caused by it is strictly calculated. "
In 1882 the facades of the Church of St. John the Forerunner were trimmed with tesom, and the roof covered with iron. In the 30's and 40's of the XIX century, a bell tower was added to the church from the west, destroying the porch leading to the high galleries. During the restoration, this belfry was dismantled, without even marking the logs, referring to the fact that it distorts the slender silhouette of the ancient volume. But, alas, now a new porch, a fantasy of a modern restorer, appeared instead of the bell tower of a hundred and fifty years ago, for there was no information about the original form necessary for the restoration of the porch. So because of an ill-considered and hasty decision, the wooden bell tower of the first half of the last century disappeared.
To present outside, what is the interior of the St. John the Baptist Church, it is impossible. It is difficult to believe, having entered there for the first time, that it belongs to this church. After a swift rhythm of sky-high tiers, the temple looks like an ordinary village hut inside. The carpenter seemed to be interested only in a multi-tiered composition and very little - the interior of the church. A low flat ceiling is dialed "into the tree," light seeping through small windows, the light can not disperse the gloom in the corners (some of the windows were cut later, but they were not enough), the walls were smoothly trimmed, the corners were rounded. Now, when there is no iconostasis, the similarity of the church interior with the usual hut has become even more noticeable. Only small details - cutting the gaps in the choirs, careful processing of the tilted windows, fitting the grooves of the logs - speak of the great skill of the carpenter. This seemingly inattention to the internal design of the temple is seeming. In the cold winter conditions, the open premises of the church would be difficult to heat, small windows were used to keep the heat, allowing little light to pass, but arranged so that the light from them fell directly onto the iconostasis and the praying icons were clearly visible.
We have in our country a specialized scientific organization dealing with the protection of wood from destruction, the Senezhskaya Laboratory for the Conservation of Wood. The manager of this laboratory, S. N. Gorshin - the largest specialist who studied the condition of many ancient wooden buildings, somehow expressed an interesting and at first glance simple idea: "Why churches like Shirkov's churchyard could survive to this day? Because they were properly built. " This becomes especially clear when you see the monument not in drawings and photographs, but you are next to it, you can touch the walls of logs up to 70 centimeters in diameter (such trees have become a rarity in the central strip of Russia).
At the end of the XIX century, Shirkov Pogost became one of the largest villages on Lake Vseglug. Around a few kilometers there were no churches. The ancient wooden church turned out to be too small, besides it was not heated, and "praying in winter it was necessary to be present at the service in no other way than in sheepskin jackets and mittens". Therefore, the local residents, in order not to act "according to the established custom (that is, to sell it for demolition - A.G.), in order to improve the new temple with the money ... (this would be an unpardonable sin in relation to such a monument of antiquity). .. ", began to build a more spacious stone church with large windows and heating. Its construction was carried out very simply: "... parishioners ... appointed a poll tax, and so during the b-7 years they collected about 27 thousand rubles, for what amount a stone church in the Pogost Shirkov was built in rough" (in 1912).
A new church, the same age as the Olgin monastery church on the Volga-Verkhovye, differs little from it in its architectural and artistic qualities. An example for her composition was probably the churches of the 16th century, the side chapels turned into vestibules, open gulbis and bypass galleries into the baptismal room located in front of the altar. Being near the wooden church, on the same shore of the lake, the new stone perfectly complements the panorama, enhances the sound of the forms of the ancient monument of the XVII century. Immediately next to, under the mountain, above the spring in the gully, is a very simple, nadkladeznaya wooden chapel. Its four-walled log house with unpretentious completion protected the spring from pollution and frost. Twice a year, in summer and in winter, a religious procession was sent from the churches of the village, and a water consecration took place.
Downstream, behind the Shirkov Pogost, in the middle of the lake, lies a small island with a strange name - God's work. Old residents still remember on this islet a monastery, from which now only ruins remain. The monastery was called the Novosolovetskaya desert, unlike the Solovetsky monastery on the White Sea, but to local residents it was more known as God's work. This name was established beyond the island. There are several versions regarding the origin of the monastery. One (it was founded relatively late - in 1701), the first monk Joel, who came here and contracted the carpenters to chop the church, refused to pay them at the end of the works, saying that the construction of the monastery is "God's work" and the payment for it is not it is necessary. According to another version, the same monk, collecting alms, asked "to sacrifice God's work". The monastery was abolished in 1764, but was soon restored again, attributing to the Nilovo Desert.
Opposite the island, on the eastern shore of the lake, lies the village of Gorki. The traditional name of the village occurred, apparently, from the very hills, between which lay its wide street, which descended directly to the water. In the center of the village, on the slope of the ravine, was an inconspicuous chapel. Approaching it closer, you understand that it is different than those that are occasionally still found in Tver villages and villages. Unusually in itself the construction of the chapel on the slope, and only after carefully examining it, you can understand that it was built so not by accident. Once the entrance to the chapel was not from the side of the village, but from the staircase straight from the street that passed along the bottom of the ravine. A wide porch - a gulp on the outrigger consoles, overhanging the ravine - is enclosed by a parapet and surrounds the chapel itself on the north and west sides. The eastern side is deaf, facing directly to the ravine, and the southern side, with one window, to the posad. Another window from the north side goes under the canopy gangery. The chapel of the chapel is a cage type, set on boulders and built of thick logs. On the eastern side of the log are the Protasans, which immediately distinguish this part of the building among the rest. The chapel is crowned with a four-tented marquee with a simple wrought cross. The marquee was originally taller and slender, which suggests the direction of cutting from the rafters on the upper corners of the log. A shoestring of a doorway leading from the porch to the inside, and both decks of windows were scraped from the thick blocks. Inside the corners of the walls are rounded, the floor is made of wide boards, the ceiling is dialed "in the Christmas tree". The time of the appearance of the chapel is unknown. But logs, especially the lower wreaths, which have 50-60 centimeters "in front", the technique of processing their ends with an ax, the shape of the consoles under the guillotine, the wide carpets, the packs of window and door openings - all this indicates the early date of the monument, allows it to be attributed to the time construction of the church in Shirkov Pogost. Such chapels were sometimes built for one day, vowed, from the most accessible material, dedicated to a local event, a holiday or a local holy saint. Such simple works of folk architecture quickly deteriorated, replaced by more capital buildings or died in the fire of fires. Traces of the reconstruction of the chapel in Gorki are also clearly visible, but they did not distort the monument beyond recognition, and its ancient forms can be seen in almost every detail. Perhaps, this is the only well-preserved ancient wooden chapel.