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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Founded: 1710
Category: Religious sites in Russia

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Anastasia Ovchinnikova (11 months ago)
Very close the A Nevskiy square metro station, quiet historical religious spot. Opposite is peaceful memorial cemetery
Hobart Rocswell (11 months ago)
Very beautiful and old, calm place when less people there..
Erick Flores (11 months ago)
Very beautiful monastery showing the real beauty of this country. There are many things to see here and I suggest to see every church inside. I fell in love with everything. I truly recommend to come visit this beautiful place.
Yusuf Araba (16 months ago)
Very underrated place. So beautiful, so peaceful, so historical and valuable. Literally admirable.
Igor Naglić (2 years ago)
Very nice monastery at the top of Nevsky street. Walking to the monastery you will find entrance to two cemetery-museums with famous people buried there. Walking on you will go through a gate in a cemetery and in the middle is a monastery. You can buy lots of souvenirs, mostly iconography and books.
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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.