Life in the villages around Lake Ilmen has always been inextricably linked with fishing. There is therefore little wonder the church in Navolok was consecrated in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, the patron saint of travelers and sailors at sea.
According to archival documents, the original wooden church was built in the village in 1624 and then fully revamped in the 19th century. By the 20th century, it had looked significantly different from the original, but older residents said the church was “300 years old.”
Architect Leonid Krasnorechyev replicated the old church based on the surviving descriptions and measurements from the mid-19th century and from 1919. It had a square cottage-like shape – an elevated main frame, with a rectangular altar and a large refectory. A gallery adjoining the refectory from the north and west connected it with a high octagonal bell tower crowned with a tent.
However, there is a surviving stone St Nicholas Church in Navolok, erected in 1891. Its architectural style is eclecticism: a square building with a semicircular altar apse and a rectangular porch. Its southern and northern facades are each dominated by a molded arch decoration with a keel top and protruding pilasters, framing a three-piece window. To date, the building has suffered significant damage. Its original five domes are gone, it has a different roofing, and the bell tower adjoining the porch has been dismantled.
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