Monasteries in Russia

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on a ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Sergiev Posad, Russia

Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra or Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded by Peter I of Russia in 1710 at the eastern end of the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg supposing that that was the site of the Neva Battle in 1240 when Alexander Nevsky, a prince, defeated the Swedes; however, the battle actually took place about 12 miles away from that site. The monastery was founded also to house the relics of St. Alexander N ...
Founded: 1710 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery

Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery dates back to the 13th century. It was destroyed by fire in 1501, and the monastery as you see it today was mostly built in the 16th century. For centuries it was one of the biggest monasteries in Russia and by 1764 it owned vast amounts of land and had some 14,000 serfs. Almost every Tsar in history visited the monastery and it was behind its formidable walls that Minin and Pozharsky prepar ...
Founded: 1506-1516 | Location: Yaroslavl, Russia

Saint Euthymius Monastery

The Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius was founded in the 14th century, and grew in importance in the 16th and 17th centuries after donations by Vasili III, Ivan IV and the Pozharsky family, a noble dynasty of the region. Among the buildings erected during this period were the Assumption Church, the bell tower, the surrounding walls and towers, and the seven-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour. The cathe ...
Founded: 1352 | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery used to be the largest monastery of Northern Russia. The monastery was dedicated to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, for which cause it was sometimes referred to as the Dormition Monastery of St. Cyril. The monastery was founded in 1397 on the bank of Lake Siverskoye, to the south from the town of Beloozero, in the present-day Vologda Oblast. Its founder, St. Cyril or Kirill of Bel ...
Founded: 1397 | Location: Kirillov, Russia

New Jerusalem Monastery

The New Jerusalem or Novoiyerusalimsky Monastery was founded in 1656 by Patriarch Nikon as a patriarchal residence on the outskirts of Moscow. This site was chosen for its resemblance to the Holy Land. The River Istra represents the Jordan, and the buildings represent the "sacral space" or holy places of Jerusalem. In his time, Patriarch Nikon recruited a number of monks of non-Russian origin to populate the mo ...
Founded: 1656 | Location: Istra, Russia

Donskoy Monastery

Donskoy Monastery was founded in 1591 in commemoration of Moscow"s deliverance from the threat of an invasion by the Crimean Khan Kazy-Girey. Commanding a highway to the Crimea, the monastery was intended to defend southern approaches to the Moscow Kremlin. The monastery was built on the spot where Boris Godunov"s mobile fortress and Sergii Radonezhsky"s field church with Theophan the Greek"s icon Our ...
Founded: 1591 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Pskov-Caves Monastery

Pskov-Caves Monastery or Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox male monastery. It was founded in the mid-15th century, when the first hermits settled in local caves. The first cave Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos was built in 1473 (its modern facade was constructed in the 18th century). After the monastery had been destroyed by the Livonian feudals, it was rebuilt by a Pskovian Mikhail Munekhin-Misyur ...
Founded: 1473 | Location: Pskov, Russia

Alexandrov Kremlin

The tsar’s residence in the Alexandrovskaya village (also known as the Alexandrovsky Kremlin) is an old Russian fortress which served as the actual capital of the oprichnina (the period of Russian history between 1565 and 1572 during which Tsar Ivan the Terrible instituted a domestic policy of secret police, massrepressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats) in the Moscow state fr ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Aleksandrov, Russia

Ipatiev Monastery

The Ipatiev Monastery is a male monastery situated on the bank of the Kostroma River just opposite the city of Kostroma. It was founded around 1330 by a Tatar convert, Prince Chet, whose male-line descendants include Solomonia Saburova and Boris Godunov. In 1435, Vasily II concluded a peace with his cousin Vasily Kosoy there. At that time, the cloister was a notable centre of learning. It was here that Nikolay Karamzin d ...
Founded: 1330 | Location: Kostroma, Russia

Spaso-Yakovlevsky Monastery

Monastery of St. Jacob Saviour (Spaso-Yakovlevsky) is an Eastern Orthodox monastery situated to the left from the Rostov kremlin on the Rostov"s outskirts. Monastery was founded in the 14th century by St Iakov of Rostov. The earliest kept building of a monastery is Cathedral of Conception of St Anna. It has been constructed in 1686. Another 17th-century building is Savior Transfiguration Cathedral which once belonge ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Rostov, Russia

Yuriev Monastery

The St. George"s (Yuriev) Monastery is usually cited as Russia"s oldest monastery. It was used to be the most important in the medieval Novgorod Republic. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings. According to legend, the monastery was founded in the 11th century by Yaroslav the Wise (whose Christian name was George), but the first historically-reliable ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Solovetsky Monastery

Solovetsky Monastery was the greatest citadel of Christianity in the Russian North before being turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp (1926–1939), which served as a prototype for the GULag system. Situated on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, the monastery braved many changes of fortune and military sieges. Its most important structures date from the 16th century, when Filip Kolychev was its hegumen. ...
Founded: ca. 1436 | Location: Solovetsky, Russia

Valaam Monastery

The Valaam Monastery, or Valamo Monastery is a stauropegic Orthodox monastery located on Valaam island in Lake Ladoga. It is not clear when the monastery was founded. As the cloister is not mentioned in documents before the 16th century, different dates - from 10th to 15th centuries - have been expounded. According to one tradition, the monastery was founded by a 10th century Greek monk, Sergius, and his Karelian companio ...
Founded: Late 1300s | Location: Valaam, Russia

Ferapontov Monastery

The Ferapontov convent is considered one of the purest examples of Russian medieval art, a reason given by UNESCO for its inscription on the World Heritage List. The monastery was founded by Saint Ferapont in 1398 in the inhospitable Russian North, to the east from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, named after his fellow monk, Saint Kirill of Beloozero. The fame of the monastery started to spread under Kirill"s disc ...
Founded: 1398 | Location: Vologodskaya oblast, Russia

Nilov Monastery

Stolobny Island is the home of Nilov Monastery, which was founded by Saint Nilus in 1594, and previously welcomed up to 40,000 pilgrims each year. Most of the buildings of the monastery were built in the 18th and 19th Centuries in a neoclassical style. Today the monastery complex remains one of the most impressive ensembles of Neoclassical architecture in Eastern Europe. Some of its churches date back to the 17th century ...
Founded: 1594 | Location: Ostashkov, Russia

Tikhvin Assumption Monastery

The Tikhvin Assumption Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery founded in 1560. It hosts the icon of the Theotokos of Tikhvin, one of the most venerated Russian icons. According to the tradition, the icon of the Theotokos of Tikhvin was discovered in 1383 at the current location of the monastery. A wooden church was built to accommodate the icon. The consequent wooden churches burned to the ground three times, until in ...
Founded: 1560 | Location: Tikhvin, Russia

Mirozhsky Monastery

Mirozhsky Monastery is a 12th century Russian Orthodox monastery complex famous for its frescoes. It is located in The Christ's Transfiguration Cathedral. The name of the monastery is derived from the name of the Mirozha River, since the monastery is located at the place where the Mirozha joins the Velikaya River, on the left bank of the Velikaya. The catholicon of the monastery is one of the two pre-Mongol buildings whic ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pskov, Russia

Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery

The Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery was founded by Dmitry Prilutsky, formerly a hegumen of the Nikolsky Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky. Dmitry left Pereslavl since he thought it was too crowded, and moved north. He first decided to settle down on the Obnora River, currently in Gryazovetsky District of Vologda Oblast, but he was not accepted warmly by the local population, and he moved further north. At the currentl location of ...
Founded: 1371 | Location: Vologda, Russia

Goritsky Monastery

The Goritsky Monastery of Dormition was a Russian Orthodox monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky. It was supposedly established it early 14th century during the reign of Ivan I of Moscow (Ivan Kalita). No original architecture was preserved. The oldest parts of the current ensemble date to 17-18th centuries. The monastery was closed in 1788. In 1919 the Pereslavl-Zalessky Historical Museum was established within its territory.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia

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Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.