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Bogolyubovo The road to Bogolyubovo still follows much the same route as the old one which led from Vladimir, the capital, to the Grand Prince's castle at Bogolyubovo. Outside the village of Dobroye, on the right of the main road, traces of the oldest Stone Age settlement in the area were discovered during clay quarrying. Further along on the ridge of the high left bank above the Klyazma there are remains of earthworks belonging to a twelfth-century fortress built on the site of a Slavonic-Merya settlement dating back to the ninth century overlooking the head of a gully and the bends of the Klyazma. Along the gully flowed the small river Sungir. This fortress guarded the border of the Vladimir lands on which the capital itself stood. The small town on the Sungir comes into sight when the road rises after crossing the bridge over the Sungir gully. The large village of Bogolyubovo played an extremely important role in Russian history and culture during the twelfth century. It is beautifully situated on high hills with an excellent view of the Klyazma water-meadows, the sharp bends of the river, the forests beyond and the gleaming white Church of the Intercession on the Nerl in the distance. The buildings that have survived in Bogolyubovo take us back to the turbulent early period of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky's reign, the years 1158-1165, when Vladimir had become the new capital of the principality and was being adorned with a multitude of beautiful new buildings. The royal residence at Bogolyubovo was also built during this period. The Klyazma has since changed course southwards, but at that time it used to run along the bottom of the Bogolyubovo hill and has left a marshy lake there called Old Klyazma. Above it rose a bank almost fifty feet high, from which you could see the bright, calm waters of the Nerl flowing into the Klyazma from the heart of the Suzdal lands, the fertile, open meadowland. The Nerl formed an important link between the Klyazma and the Volga, cutting diagonally across the vast, rich lands of northeast Russia. The powerful, wealthy boyars of Rostov and Suzdal with their selfish interests, had extended their influence over the whole of Zalesye as far as the Moskva River. The transfer of the capital to Vladimir, a comparatively young town consisting predominantly of small artisans and traders, was a tremendous blow to the independence of the boyars, threatening to undermine their political influence. Control of the confluence of the Nerl and Klyazma was an extremely important factor in the ensuing struggle. It was here, therefore, that prince Andrei built a new fortress and the sumptuous royal castle of Bogolyubovo. As in the case of Vladimir, the site of the fortress was determined by the natural relief. The deep gully running down to the Klyazma from the north became the western limit. The plateau had no natural borders to the north and east and the builders from Vladimir were obliged to encircle it on all sides with earth ramparts, adding a deep moat on the north and eaSaint All trace of these fortifications has disappeared in the Northwest section, but they have been excellently preserved along the western edge above the gully. The main road cuts through what was once the earth ramparts. On the left you can see their broad slopes now covered with old elms, and on the right, on top of the mound, is a new white Convent wall. The main road enters Bogolyubovo at exactly the same point as the old road did in the twelfth century, and at this break in the ramparts stood the gate tower of the castle. In an account of Prince Andrei's building, the chronicle tells us that he "did build himself a town of stone". Scholars were not inclined to treat this seriously, since there were no traces of stone fortifications, and the idea of a stone fortress being built in the remote forests of northeast Russia during the twelfth century seemed most unlikely. However, excavation work carried out over the period 1934-1954 revealed remains of the foundations of a beautifully constructed wall or tower made of white stone on the southern slope of the hill, and the base of some very strong wall foundations made of stones set in slaked lime, on the ridge of the western rampart. So there is evidence that a stone stronghold really did appear between 1158-1165 on the bank of the Klyazma where it is joined by the Nerl. The Bogolyubovo fortress completed the chain of fortifications along the left bank of the Klyazma, consisting of Vladimir itself, the Monastery of Saint Constantine and Saint Helena, and the fortress on the Sungir. Like these other strongholds, the Bogolyubovo fortress stood on the site of a settlement dating back to the ninth century before the appearance of Russian settlers in these parts. Legend tell us that when prince Andrei was bringing the miraculous icon of Holy Virgin Mary from Kiev to Rostov, the horses bearing the sacred object stopped on this spot and refused to go any further. It was also said that the Virgin Mary herself appeared to Andrei when he was sleeping in his tent during the journey, and interceded on his behalf, taking him under her divine protection. This legend is reflected in the large icon of the Virgin Mary commissioned by Andrei and now in the Vladimir Museum. She is shown standing and praying to Christ with the Deesis on the upper border of the icon repeating the theme of Intercession and protection which was very popular in Vladimir art of the twelfth century. Judging by the fragments of the painting that have survived the icon was just as beautiful and expressive as the famous Vladimir one. It was called the Bogolyubskaya Icon (Icon of Holy Virgin Mary of Bogolyubovo). As a result of all these different legends the new town was also called Bogolyubovo (a place loved by God) and the prince became known as Andrei Bogolyubsky (Andrei from Bogolyubovo) The southern part of old Bogolyubovo is occupied by the Bogolyubov's Convent, founded in the thirteenth century after the castle had been deserted. Pilgrims are attracted the wondrous legends surrounding the spot, the Bogolyubskaya Icon, and reminder of Prince Andrei, who was glorified by the Orthodox Church in 1702. All this enable Monastery to build extensively. The white walls of the Monastery along the main road obviously follow the line of the old inner wall of the castle, which divided off the palace buildings. The royal servants and craftsmen probably lived in the northern half. Above the Monastery 's Holy Gates there is a huge bell tower built in 1841, with an impressive arch and a small Church under the belfry. Immediately behind the bell tower looms the huge Monastery Cathedral erected in 1866 in conventional Russian-Byzantine style. The bell tower and the Cathedral do not fit in with the dimensions of the natural relief and the remains of the twelfth-century palace. Their massive dimensions seem to dominate everything around. If we go through the gates to the left of the bell tower and stop in the middle of the small Monastery courtyard, we would stay now roughly in the centre of the castle's main courtyard whose surface, paved with white stone, lies about five feet below ground level under layers of rubble and earth. Little has remained of the ensemble. It would seem that after the death of Andrei his residence at Bogolyubovo ceased to be of interest to the Vladimir princes. It was sacked and looted for the first time in 1177 by Prince Gleb of Ryazan, and later the invading Mongol hordes razed its fortified walls to the ground. It is likely that the palace buildings were also severely damaged, their stone being used later by the Monastery for the erection of new buildings. On the southern edge of the wall stands the Church of the Annunciation, built in 1683 and considerably disfigured by alterations carried out in 1804. Legend has it that the Church of Saint Leontius was built by Andrei on this spot. Next to it is a seventeenth-century chapel which does in fact stand on the ruins of one of the most interesting buildings in the old residence. The palace's Cathedral of the Nativity of Holy Virgin Mary remained intact until the end of the seventeenth century. It is described in a chronicle written by the abbot of the Monastery , Aristarkh who also describes its sad fate. Apparently the abbot Ippolit wanted to have more light in the Church and ordered huge windows to be let into the walls, as a result of which the building collapsed in 1722. Fortunately part of its north walls remained intact, supported by an old passageway connecting it to the staircase tower. These remains were carefully preserved, as this was the sacred spot on which Prince Andrei was murdered. The rest of the Cathedral was demolished and the present Church was built on its foundations in 1751.