Church of the Intercession on the Nerl is probably one of the most remarkable Christian buildings in Russia. A lot of people may know this picture: slim silhouette of a white temple rising out of the water. The metaphorical “way to temple” is getting a very interesting geographical nuance here. The nearest locality is a small Bogolyubovo village, and the church itself is surrounded by picturesque fields and meadows… however, first things first.
First stop. Bogolyubovo village.
Both Church of the Intercession on the Nerl and Bogolyubovo village are connected with the name of Grand prince of Vladimir-Suzdal Andrei Bogolyubsky (“Andrei the God-Loving”). He is mainly famous for transferring the capital to Vladimir, and turning it into a powerful economic and political center.
In 1158 Grand prince builds his own royal residence on the high bank of the Nerl River (13 km east of Vladimir) and gives it a resounding name – Bogolyubovo. And then the residence gives Andrei his “official” nickname which we know nowadays.
The main attraction is Bogolyubovo convent which used to be a part of the Prince’s palace of Bogolyubsky:
The distance between Bogolyubovo convent and Church of the Intercession on the Nerl is around 1.5 km. We are crossing the railroad tracks…
…and heading along the stone-paved road leading us to the temple.Church of the Intercession on the Nerl stands on top of a small hill. It’s surrounded by beautiful silent meadows. Every early spring the local miracle happens: the snow melts down and turns Bogorodsky meadow into a shining mirror-like water surface, and the slender silhouette of the church seems to rise up out of the water.
Church of the Intercession on the Nerl was built by Andrei Bogolyubsky in 1165 as a tribute to his son Izyaslav, killed in a battle against the Bulgars.
The temple features a surprisingly simple and elegant architectural design. White stone walls are decorated with delicate bas-reliefs: you can see the recognizable image of the wise King David as well as subtle motifs of plants and animals. The walls of the are slightly inclined inwards, so the building seems to be even slimmer and taller. Another secret of the temple is its five-meter foundation, extending deep into the bulk of the hill. It’s created to protect the church from flooding.
A hasty way back following the endless stone-paved road, bridge over the railway, small shops with those red village apples and touristy fridge magnets, and a bus ride to the city. Church of the Intercession on the Nerl and its meadows is a real ancient Russian fairy tale and the calmest place I’ve ever been to, and I wish everyone could visit it at least once in their life.