Ancient church with pre-Mongolian frescoes to be restored in North Ossetia

Vladikavkaz, September 9, 2016


Specialists from St. Petersburg will restore an ancient church in the village of Nuzal in North Ossetia which is a monument of federal importance, reports the website of the Vladikavkaz Diocese.

They have conducted a visual inspection of the monument and architectural-archaeological surveys, and made a selection of mortar and masonry to study the materials’ conditions, reports the Vladikavkaz Diocese’s press service.

The method for strengthening the masonry will be defined according to the results of the laboratory analysis of the samples taken. This will enable the specialists to preserve the monument and its unique frescoes.

The monumental wall paintings of the pre-Mongolian [before the Mongol invasions which began in the 1230s—O.C.] and Mongolian periods have survived in this church which was transferred to the diocese in 2015. Similar examples of such early Church artwork are known mostly in the north of Russia, first of all in Veliky Novgorod and Pskov.

“Our current task is to determine the causes of the building’s deformation and to carry out conservation work in order to prevent its further destruction. The rigorous examinations and careful restoration will take at least several years. But neither we nor the specialists in restoring paintings have any margin of error, as this church is truly unique for North Ossetia and the whole of Russia alike. This should be undertaken methodically, attracting federal budgetary funds, because in this case little can be achieved using only the funds of private investors,” the head of the group stated.

Bishop Leonid has also assured that the Vladikavkaz Diocese is well aware of the need for careful and methodical work under strict supervision of skilled professionals.

“Both the church and the surrounding area should be thoroughly prepared because Nuzal is to become a kind of a open-air museum. Holding religious services in this church is not planned,” the ruling hierarch explained.

In their turn, the specialists strongly recommended denying public access to the monument throughout the period of the restoration work which may take a few years. “The space inside the church is no more than three square meters, while the frescoes on its walls are older than Dionisy’s frescoes. If a visitor incidentally touches a wall with his hand or leans his backpack against it he will cause irreparable damage to the frescoes; even someone's breath coming in from freezing cold could cause damage to the wall paintings," the expert stressed.

Translated by Dmitry Lapa


Suzanne Khetagurova9/10/2017 5:28 am
What a wonderful gem in Ossetia. We were there earlier this year and it is really tiny. Had no idea what was inside. Hopefully, there will be pictures posted for those of us who might not ever see the frescoes.
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