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The citizens of 13th-century Novgorod were noted for their shrewdness, diligence and prosperity, expanding from the Baltic to the White Sea.The architecture in Novgorod did not begin to flourish until the turn of the 12th century.The Novgorod Sophia cathedral was modeled after the original Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev; it is similar in appearance but smaller, narrower and (in a development of North Russian architecture) onion-shaped domes replace cupolas.Construction was supervised by workmen from Kiev, who also imported bricks.
The shape of the onion domes are a distinct feature of Russian architecture.
Further departures from the Byzantine model are evident in succeeding Novgorod cathedrals: St Nicholas' (1113), St Anthony's (1117–19), and St George's (1119).
The secular architecture of Kievan Rus' has barely survived.
The primary building materials were fieldstone and undressed limestone blocks.
It is said that the interiors were painted in frescoes, which have now vanished. The katholikon of Yuriev Monastery was commissioned in 1119 by Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovich.