Contemporary profile for ancient church

Murovanka village’s Church of the Holy Nativity of the Mother of God, in Grodno Region’s Shchuchin District, applies for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List

By Tamara Pastushenkova

The famous fortified church, constructed in the first half of the 16th century in Gothic style to honour the Nativity of the Mother of God, is a monument to Belarusian defence architecture; it is an historical and cultural treasure of world significance. Its unusual shape appears to have been inspired by Muslim minarets.

The church is a four-columned, one floored building, with 2m high walls and a lofty, double-pitched roof. Corner cylindrical towers, with two layers of holes to allow shooting with handheld firearms, give a severe, warlike appearance. Previously, the entrance in the western wall was closed by iron doors and a defensive latticed grille could be lowered from above.
The ancient Belarusian church remains operational, annually organising a festive liturgy on September 21st: the Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary.

The historical and cultural treasure is currently undergoing comprehensive analysis, since accurate data is needed to compile a profile for UNESCO. This year, its grounds are to be cleared, with the entrance gates and fencing around the church restored. Moreover, plaster coatings are being removed to reveal the character of its original construction and traces of reconstruction over the years. Earlier coats of paint and, even, frescoes are being discovered. Site scientific leader Gennady Lavretsky notes that each layer will be displayed for viewing. The church walls are now in order, proving informative and interesting to visitors.

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