Monasteries in Russia

Vysotsky Monastery

Vysotsky Monastery is a walled Russian Orthodox monastery founded in the 1370s by Vladimir the Bold. It served for a long time as a border fortress defending the southern approaches to Moscow from the Tatars. The first hegumen, Afanasy the Elder, was a disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh, whose successor, St. Nikon of Radonezh, is believed to have been tonsured a monk in this monastery. After the Russo–Crimean War ...
Founded: 1370s | Location: Serpukhov, Russia

Luzhetsky Monastery

Luzhetsky Monastery is a medieval fortified monastery in Mozhaysk founded in 1408 by Therapont of Belozersk. Therapont founded Ferapontov Monastery in 1398, located in the Principality of Beloozero, which at the time was administered jointly with the Principality of Mozhaysk. The prince, Andrey of Mozhaysk, resided in Mozhaysk, and was a brother of Vasily, the Grand Prince of Moscow. He was also one of the main sponsors ...
Founded: 1408 | Location: Mozhaysk, Russia

Goritsky Monastery

The Goritsky Monastery of Resurrection is a Russian Orthodox female monastery in the village of Goritsy. Since the 1970s, the Kirillo-Belozerksy museum-zapovednik of History, Art, and Architecture has operated parts of the Goritsky complex. Parts of Goritsky convent were reopened for religious purposes two decades later, and as of 2011 Goritsky was one of the four acting monasteries in Vologda Oblast, and the only one for ...
Founded: 1544 | Location: Vologodskaya oblast, Russia

Konevsky Monastery

In the Middle Ages, the island of Konevets (Konevitsa or Kononsaari in Finnish) was considered holy by the Finnish tribes who particularly revered a huge boulder in the shape of a horse's skull, weighing more than 750 tons. This boulder is known as Kon’-Kamen’ (literally, "Steed-Stone") and gives its name to the island. The Konevsky monastery was founded around 1393 by St. Arseny Konevsky, who wished to conve ...
Founded: ca. 1393 | Location: Ostrov Konevits, Russia

Alexander-Svirsky Monastery

Alexander-Svirsky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery situated deep in the woods of the Leningrad Oblast, just south from its border with the Republic of Karelia. The golden age of this cloister was in the 17th century. It was founded in 1487, when a monk of the Valaam Monastery, named Alexander, settled between Roschinsky and Holy lakes, 20 km to the east from Lake Ladoga and 6 km from the Svir River. During his l ...
Founded: 1487 | Location: Leningradskaya oblast, 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

Valday Iversky Monastery

Valday Iversky Monastery was founded by Patriarch Nikon in 1653. In the 17th century, the Valday Iversky Monastery was one of the most influential monasteries in Russia and a significant cultural center. By the autumn of 1653, two wooden churches were in use. Nikon also ordered to transfer the relic of Saint Iosif of Borovichi to the monastery, which was done in February, 1654. In the same year, all lands around Lake Vald ...
Founded: 1653 | Location: Valdayskiy, Russia

Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery

Joseph Volokolamsk Monastery was the most authoritative and wealthy monastery in Russia in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was founded in 1479 by Joseph Volotsky. Over the next several decades, the monastery played a key role in the political and ecclesiastic life of the 16th-century Russia. It was also a stronghold of struggle against the opponents of church landownership and heretics. Its vaults were used as a prison ...
Founded: 1479 | Location: Teryaevo, 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

Ivanovsky Monastery

The Convent of Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is a former Russian Orthodox nunnery in Pskov. It is notable for the katholikon, one of Russia's oldest churches, dating from the first half of the 12th century. The church is located at the city center, on the left bank of the Velikaya River, in the Zavelichye quarter. It currently belongs to Krypetsky Monastery. It is the second oldest building in Pskov after the katholi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pskov, Russia

Theophany Convent

Bogoyavlensky Convent is one of the most populous Russian Orthodox convents. It is situated in Kostroma and is known as the location of the ancient Feodorovskaya Icon of God"s Mother. The convent was founded in the 15th century by Nikita, a disciple and a relative of St Sergius of Radonezh. The five-domed katholikon of traditional Byzantine design was constructed under Ivan the Terrible, starting in 1559. The Tsar accuse ...
Founded: 1559-1565 | Location: Kostroma, Russia

Vyazhishchsky Monastery

The Nikolo-Vyazhishchskii Stavropegial Women"s Monastery was founded in by the monks Efrosiny, Ignaty, and Galaktion and the hieromonk Pimen at the end of the 14th century (a charter from 1391 mentions it), with Pimen becoming the first hegumen of the monastery. It was first mentioned in the chronicle under the year 1411. The monastery was patronized by Archbishop Evfimy II (r. 1429-1458), who was hegumen of the mona ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Novgorodskaya oblast, Russia

Antoniev Monastery

The Antoniev Monastery rivalled the Yuriev Monastery as the most important monastery of medieval Novgorod the Great. It stands along the right bank of the Volkhov River north of the city centre and forms part of the Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings, a World Heritage Site. The monastery was founded in 1117 by St. Anthony of Rome (Antony Rimlyanin), who, according to legend, flew to Novgorod from Rome on a r ...
Founded: 1117 | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Khutyn Monastery

Khutyn Monastery of Saviour"s Transfiguration and of St. Varlaam used to be the holiest monastery of the medieval Novgorod Republic. The cloister was founded in 1192 by the monastery"s first hegumen, the former Novgorodian boyar Oleksa Mikhailovich, whose monastic name was Varlaam. The main church of the monastery was consecrated by Archbishop Gavril of Novgorod the following year, the same year Varlaam died. He ...
Founded: 1192 | Location: Velikiy Novgorod, Russia

Zverin Monastery

The Zverin Monastery is one of the oldest Russian monasteries, founded not later than the 12th century. It was first mentioned in the chronicles as a female monastery in 1148. By that time, the monastery already existed, and the wooden Intercession Church was destroyed by lightning. The name of the monastery, which derives from the Russian wordзверь - a mammal - originates from Zverinets, a wooden area where the mona ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Krypetsky Monastery

Krypetsky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery founded in 1485 by St. Savva Krypetsky, a Serbian monk from Mount Athos. Two years later, the Pskov veche supported his establishment by granting a large plot of land to the monks. Prince Obolensky had a road for pilgrims built through the mire to the monastery. St. Savva died on 28 August 1495 and was interred in the then timber cathedral, which was rebuilt in stone in ...
Founded: 1485 | Location: Pskov, Russia

Kamenny Monastery

Kamenny Monastery is situated on a small eponymous island in the very centre of the Kubensky Lake. It is distinguished as the first stone monastery of the Russian North. Kamenny Island (literally, 'Stony Island') is very small, measuring just 120 metres by 70 metres. It is so named after stony ramparts set up by the monks around the island"s perimeter in order to preclude its erosion. The lake is known for ...
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Vologodskaya oblast, 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

Arkazhsky Monastery

The Arkazhy Monastery was one of the most important monasteries of medieval Novgorod Republic. All that remains of it today is the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, which is visible on the road out to the Yuriev Monastery. The foundations of the medieval monastery were excavated by Soviet archaeologists in 1961. The monastery was founded by and takes its name from Arkadii, who founded it in 1153 prior to his ...
Founded: 1153 | Location: Pankovka, Russia

Antonievo-Siysky Monastery

The Russian Orthodox Antonievo-Siysky Monastery was founded by Saint Anthony of Siya deep in the woods, 90 km to the south of Kholmogory, in 1520. Currently the monastery is located in Kholmogorsky District of Arkhangelsk Oblast in Russia, inside the nature protected area, Siysky Zakaznik. Following the saint"s death in 1556, the monastery grew on the salt trade with Western Europe and developed into one of the for ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Arkhangelsk, 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.