Annunciation Cathedral

Address:
Gorokhovets, Shkolny per., 2
GPS:
56.20693603, 42.67618958

At the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, the competition between the merchant clans Oparins and Ershovs was reflected in a peculiar way in the architecture of Gorokhovets: the most significant and prominent buildings in the town, both cult and secular, were built on their means. Almost simultaneously with the construction of the stone two-story Oparin’s house in the center of Gorokhovets, in 1700  Semen Ershov (he "sponsored" the building of the Trinity Cathedral of St. Nicholas Monastery) invested in construction of the Annunciation Cathedral on the site of the former wooden church. The cathedral was literally sixty meters from the Oparin’s house, suppressing it with its mass.

The five-domed monumental Annunciation Cathedral dominates the square, among low-rise buildings. At the base the cathedral has a rectangle of regular shape, covered with cross-domed vaults with five light wide drums and huge bulbs. The walls are divided by wide pilaster-strips into three parts, smooth pilasters laconically decorate the corners of the facades. The upper and lower windows of the cathedral are located in common wide enough niches, consonant with massive pilaster-strips. In the semicircles of the zakomars, the remains of fresco paintings depicting the twelve most important Orthodox holidays are preserved. The eastern facade is divided by three squat apses with a peculiar "x" -shaped decorative belt on the eaves. With its impressive view the Annunciation Cathedral resembled the capital's temples, which fully satisfied the tastes of the customer.

On the background of the power and strength of the cathedral, one feels the ease of the detached 37-meter tented bell-tower rising upwards. The impression of take-off is achieved by an understated quadrangle-base and more elongated proportions of the octagon above it. This is a purely Gorokhovets feature of the building, which is also evident in the bell-tower of the Trinity-St. Nicholas Monastery.

The main southern entrance to the cathedral is decorated with a massive porch with round pillars. This porch curiously influenced the merchant V. Oparin, whose beautiful house actually turned out to be blocked off by a massive cathedral built by his rival, S. Ershov. Oparin moves the porch of his house from the cathedral square on the side facing the river. Moreover, the roof of the porch rests on powerful supports, very close in form to the pillars at the entrance to the Annunciation Cathedral. This disproportionately massive porch in comparison with the size of the house was intended to reflect the high social status of the Oparins family.

Inside, the Annunciation Cathedral impressed with its space, divided by four slender round pillars. The interiors of the cathedral were repeatedly updated for its history and today lost its original appearance. There were several ancient icons in the temple, among which the icon of the Smolensk Mother of God was especially revered, to which miraculous properties were attributed. Within the walls of the cathedral the gifts of rich townspeople were kept, about which the church books tell in detail. Again rivalry of merchant families was manifested: S. Ershov donated silver vessels to the cathedral, I. Shiryaev presented a silver ark in the form of a church and a gilded cup in the form of a bunch of grapes.

The western gates of the Annunciation Cathedral are a unique work of local craftsmen (stored in the Gorokhovets Historical and Architectural Museum). They are covered with iron sheets with a thin slotted pattern of ornament through which sparkle, like precious stones, pieces of red and blue mica over birch bark.

Near the Annunciation Cathedral there is a small one-domed church of St. John the Baptist (the early 18th century). By its type it goes back to residential wooden buildings. Inside the church, through wide and squat arched openings, the refectory, the main quadrangle without pillars and the apse, are successively pass one into another. The external elegance and "secularity" of the temple are achieved due to richly decorated platbands: slender half-columns with lush capitals and exquisite oval endings. Similar windows adorn the facades of the Church of St. John the Ladder in the St. Nicholas Monastery, built on the funds of I. Shiryaev. Probably, he was the customer of the church of St. John the Baptist. With the grace of decoration and proportions, it confronted the Annunciation Cathedral – the offspring of his eternal rival, Semyon Ershov.

To the south-east of the cathedral is a chapel, with facades decorated in "Russian style". This is the latest building of the ensemble. It was erected in 1887 at the expense of the merchant M. Sapozhnikov in memory of the murdered emperor-liberator Alexander II, who visited Gorokhovets and made rich deposits in the Annunciation Cathedral.

Author: V. Korolkova