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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.