The most ancient sight of Grodno and one of the oldest shrines in Belarus. It’s all about Saints Boris and Hleb Church or, as it’s called by locals, Kolozha Church.
It was built in the 12th century as a monastery church in the unpopulated lands near Kolozhan tract. Long ago that place was known for multiple streams and brooks (called kolozhans). It was sacred even in times of pagans.
But eventually the church was consecrated in honor of Russian dukes Boris and Gleb. In 1015 they were killed by their eldest brother Sviatopolk during the struggle for power. Boris and Gleb became the first canonized marters. Probably Kolozha was founded by the brothers but consecrated by their sons.
Initially Boris and Gleb were known as healers. Chronicles are full of stories about healings that took place at their tombs, about battles won with their help, and about the pilgrimage of dukes to their relics. They were intercessors and prayers.
But let's return to Kolozha. Sometimes locals are in no hurry to show the guests of Grodno city Saints Boris and Gleb Church. Though it is a monument of the 12th century, the church looks somewhat unremarkable, and is hard to get to from the city center. So it’s much easier to show
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Basilian convent or the church of the Bridgettine cloister – their appearance is more impressive, and you don't have to go far to look at the sights. But from the point of view of an architect Kolozha is incomparably more attractive than all of them.
We bet that you won’t find any similar church in the world. There are hundreds of Baroque cathedrals throughout the world, but no such unique churches as Kolozha. It belongs to the traditions of Byzantine temple architecture, but at the same time has no direct analogues either in Old Russian or Balkan architecture.
So, in case you decide to visit the church or to show it to Grodno tourists you’d rather know at least the main facts about it:
• Plinth. This is the name of the thin but firm fired clay brick from which Kolozha was built. You can find similar examples of it the temples of Ancient Rome, Byzantium and Russia
• The walls are 1.2 meters wide!
• Decor. The patterns on the walls are made of polished stones and majolica tiles and have retained their color for 8 centuries.
• Voice-jars or «golosniki». Numerous ceramic vessels with protruding outward are built into the vaults of the walls. Due to this, acoustics inside the temple is perfect.
• Columns. They have a round cross section, what is rare for Orthodox churches. Therefore, despite the small size of the building, the inside of the church seems spacious.
Even if you are not going to conduct excursions for tourists or dive into the research of Saints Boris and Gleb Church, remember that this is not just one of the city sights. Take a walk along the riverside, climb the steep cobblestone path and come to Kolozha. Take a look at it. This is our history.