Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Saint Petersburg, Russia

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 Nevsky, patron of the newly-founded Russian capital; however, the massive silver sarcophagus of St. Alexander Nevsky was relocated during Soviet times to the State Hermitage Museum where it remains (without the relics) today.

In 1797, the monastery was raised to the rank of lavra, making it only the third lavra in the Russian Church, in which that designation had previously been bestowed only upon Kiev Monastery of the Caves and the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius.

The monastery grounds contain two baroque churches, designed by father and son Trezzini and built in 1717–22 and 1742–50, respectively; a majestic Neoclassical cathedral, built in 1778–90 to a design by Ivan Starov and consecrated to the Holy Trinity; and numerous structures of lesser importance. It also contains the Lazarev and Tikhvin Cemeteries, where ornate tombs of Leonhard Euler,Mikhail Lomonosov, Alexander Suvorov, Nikolay Karamzin, Modest Mussorgsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Karl Ivanovic Rossi, Prince Garsevan Chavchavadze, a Georgian aristocrat, Sergei Witte and other famous Russians are preserved.

Today Alexander Nevsky Lavra sits on Alexander Nevsky Square where shoppers can buy bread baked by the monks. Visitors may also visit the cathedral and cemeteries for a small admission fee. While many of the grave sites are situated behind large concrete walls, especially those of famous Russians, many can be seen by passers-by while strolling down Obukovskoy Oburoni Street.

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Details

Founded: 1710
Category: Religious sites in Russia

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Madolou (5 months ago)
Peaceful place
Taro Mori (5 months ago)
The nice place to hear your mind. There is a cafeteria. It is a nice to take a rest.
Jesper Bexkens (10 months ago)
Beautiful place and rather authentic. Some of the staff are very friendly, others still use Soviet manners.
Mohammad Ebrahimzadeh (14 months ago)
So good but a little busy
Arthur Jenkin (2 years ago)
A simple stop at the end of Nevsky prospekt. The church has finally been restored and is open. You must stop at their bakery, else your visit will have been wasted.
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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.