In 1632 the future Patriarch Nikon attempted to escape from the Solovki to the Kozheozero Monastery in the south. As Nikon later recalled, a tempest broke out and his life was at peril. The monk began to pray to the holy cross and soon his boat was cast a shore on Kiy Island, where he erected a wooden cross to thank heaven.
Twenty years later, he went from Novgorod to the Solovki in order to bring the relics of Metropolitan Philip to Moscow. On his way he visited Kiy-Island and was pleased to see his wooden cross still standing. Upon becoming the Patriarch a year later, Nikon ordered a monastery to be established on the spot. The monastery was dedicated to the True Cross in 1656, whereupon 4537 peasants were declared its property.
Under Nikon's supervision, the Krestny Monastery became one of the richest in the region. The patriarch sent to the monks a huge cypress cross, commissioned by him in Palestine as 'an exact replica of the True Cross' and lavishly decorated with jewels. In 1660 he visited the monastery for the last time and dwelled there for a year. It is believed that the wayward patriarch personally selected the location of and designed most buildings to suit his taste. It was for his own use that a singular choir loft was built within the cathedral. A large portion of monastery buildings, including the cathedral, were constructed from local granite, to be in harmony with the rocky setting.
After Nikon's fall from grace, the monastery declined and its possessions were expropriated. The British Royal Navy sacked the island during the Crimean War on 9 July 1854. The following year it was damaged by fire but the Holy Synod decided in favour of restoring the complex. The Communists disbanded the abbey in 1922.
The granite heights of the island are crowned by the four-pillared Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross, dedicated in the presence of Nikon on 4 September 1661. Its monumental proportions are deliberately archaic but the overall effect is unusually spacious and light for traditional Russian architecture. There were formerly three domes but only the central one still subsists. Other buildings from Nikon's period include the chapel over the well (1661), the two-storey refectory church of the Virgin's Nativity (1689), the sadly disfigured All Saints Church (1661), and various outbuildings.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.