Photographer's Note

The Kalozha church of Sts. Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Grodno, Belarus. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.

The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Grodno Castle.

In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites

Description from List of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites:

The SS. Boris and Gleb (Kalozha) Church in the city of Hrodna was built in 1180s by architect Pyotr Milaneh on the high right bank of the river Nieman, opposite the Castle Hill, in the territory of the former Kalozha settlement. In the 16'h and17t' centuries it was restored, in 1853 it was partially destroyed by a landslide, in 1889 the southern apse collapsed. In 1910 and in 1935 conservation works were undertaken, and in 1970, 1985¬1987 conservation and repair works were carried out. Preserved are the southern wall and a part of the western wall, as well as 3 apses, and 2 western under-cupola pillars. The materials used in constructing the temple were brick, stone, glaze and lime mortar. The church was a building of 13.5x 21.5 metres, with three semicircular altar apses at the eastern side. The wall thickness was about 1.2 meters. The walls were made of thin plinths of 3.5-4x16.5x26-28 centimeters. On the ends of some bricks there are Slavonic letters and bas-relief signs whose meaning has not yet been fully understood. The rows of plinths alternate with thick lime mortar seams with added finely ground brick and coal. The foundation of the temple is 1.5 meters deep and it consists of earth or sand-covered boulders. A short step-like pedestal formed the lower part of the church. The brickwork of the facade walls includes large colored, face polished, granite and gneiss stones, and figured glaze-covered ceramic tiles of various sizes, shapes and colors, which form various geometrical figures and crosses. The church had three entrances: the central (on the western part) and two lateral ones. It was crowned by a cylindrical cupola. The upper part of the temple had arched windows. One cannot describe accurately the original outside view of the Kalozha temple: its upper parts and the southern wall with parts of the adjacent walls had slid down into the Nieman river. The main element of the interior decoration was the majolica floor made of diversiform plates of yellow, green, and brown color. The lower part of the northern wall has numerous bays. Fragments of frescos were discovered in one of them, and in the altar. Within the upper part of the wall there are horizontally buried resonators - clay jugs whose necks were exposed into the rooms. Six pillars about 1.2 meters in diameter were dividing the church into three naves. In the western part, over the entrance, there were choirs. A projection they rested on is preserved. Within the walls, there were passageway stairs leading to the choirs. One of the stairs, on the survived northern wall, is preserved. At present, the Kalozha church is an active place of worship.

Photo Information
Viewed: 1118
Points: 44
  • None
Additional Photos by Piotr Fagasiewicz (PiotrF) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 5025 W: 2 N: 9255] (44288)
View More Pictures