Monasteries in 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

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

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

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

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

Kizhi Pogost

Kizhi Pogost is a historical site dating from the 17th century on Kizhi island. The pogost is the area inside a fence which includes two large wooden churches (the 22-dome Transfiguration Church and the 9-dome Intercession Church) and a bell-tower. The pogost is famous for its beauty and longevity, despite that it is built exclusively of wood. In 1990, it was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and in 1993 ...
Founded: 1714 | Location: Kizhi, 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

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

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

Pechersky Ascension Monastery

Pechersky Voznesensky Monastery is usually said to have been founded ca. 1328-1330 by St. Dionysius, who came to Nizhny Novgorod from Kiev Pechersk Lavra (i.e., Kiev Monastery of the Caves, pechery meaning 'caves') with several other monks, and dug for himself a cave on the step Volga shore some 3 km southeast of the city. Later on, he founded at that site a monastery with a church of Resurrection of the Lord. The monast ...
Founded: 1328-1330 | Location: Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia

Pechenga Monastery

The Pechenga (Petsamo) Monastery was for many centuries the northernmost monastery in the world. It was founded in 1533 at the influx of the Pechenga River into the Barents Sea, 135 km west of modern Murmansk, by St. Tryphon, a monk from Novgorod. Inspired by the model of the Solovki Monastery, Tryphon wished to convert the local Skolts to Christianity and to demonstrate how faith could flourish in the most inhospitable ...
Founded: 1533 | Location: Pechenga, 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

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

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

Transfiguration Monastery

Transfiguration monastery was founded in 1192 by Martiry Rushanin, who built the wooden Transfiguration Church. At the time, the area belonged to the Novgorod Republic, and the construction of the church was approved by Grigory, the Archbishop of Novgorod. In 1193, Martiry himself was promoted to be the Archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov. Presumably, the wooden church burned down, and in 1198, Martiry founded the stone Tran ...
Founded: 1192 | Location: Staraja Russa, 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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.