The Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross in Polotsk

The Vitebsk region, the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross in Polotsk

The town Polotsk is considered to be one of main cultural and historical centers in the Republic of Belarus. It was first mentioned in 862. In “The Tale of Bygone Years” it is stated that this location was established by tribes Krivichi on the bank of the Dvina. The advantages of these picturesque lands attract traveller fr om both neighboring countries and those further abroad. They come here to admire inimitable architectural compositions, numerous monuments, museums, cathedrals and its fascinating nature.

While travelling around Polotsk one can’t ignore the Cathedral of the Exaltation that is crowned with five domes with majestic crosses. The cathedral was constructed in 1897 with voluntary contributions of parishioners that had been raised for over ten years.

This cathedral is an architectural monument in Russian and Byzantine movement of Old Russian style. The richest history of the church is closely connected with the reorganization of the St Euphrosyne convent. This sanctuary is situated not far from the Savior Transfiguration Temple.

It should be taken into account that the cathedral admits over one and a half thousand people. Five domes rise above the cathedral, and it is divided into two chantries. The first chantry is in honor of St Nicholas, the second one – in honor of the Smolensk icon of the Mother of God.

The main sanctuaries of this cathedral are chains (so-called bonds) of Euphrosyne of Polotsk, holy images of Panteleimon and Great Martyr Varvara.

However, the main domain is the relicts of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk. Her tomb is made of sterling silver on the models of a genuine coffinette. The front of the tomb is decorated with bas-reliefs narrating the story of construction of the Savior Transfiguration Temple and the transfer of the relicts from Jerusalem to Kiev. On the top cover of the tomb there is an image of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk.

In 1910 there occurred an unforgettable event of the whole Polotsk land. On 4 June, on the eve of the feast day of St Euphrosyne, her relicts were transferred from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra to the Polotsk cell. The relicts of the Saint were transferred into the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross wh ere the vigil liturgy was read. The next day after the end of divine service the relicts were brought from the cathedral to the ancient Savior Transfiguration Temple.

The interior of the temple will not leave anyone untouched. The real pride of the temple is a tsar three-tier iconostasis installed in 1896, before the consecration of the temple. There are also two lateral altars that stylistically match the thematic interior of the main carved iconostasis covered with gold and precious gems.

Architects refer this magnificent Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross to Russian and Byzantine style. This brick snow-white temple looks like a cross in terms of its shape.

The central part is crowned with a dome resting on a huge dome drum. The exterior appearance is rather quiet. The facades are decorated with gables, arched vaults and perfectly circular medallions. In the temple one can feel favor and inimitable peace of mind.

Once in the Polotsk land you should visit the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross.